- Exo 24:1-2 – The Lord called Moses, Aaron, Aaron’s children and the elders to worship Him, but only Moses to come near.
- Exo 24:3-5 – Moses shared with the people what the Lord had said and built an altar and 12 pillars. Young men offered burnt offerings and peace offerings
- Exo 24:6-7 – Moses put half of the blood of the offering in a basin and sprinkled the other half on the altar
- Exo 24:8-9 – Moses read the Book of the Covenant to the people. The people promised that they would obey the covenant and Moses sprinkled the blood on the people and went up the mountain with Aaron and the elders
- Exo 24:10-11 – They saw the Lord
- Exo 24:12-14 – The Lord called Moses to go on the mountain to receive His commands and the elders waited for him
- Exo 24:15-18 – Moses went up the mountain and the glory of the Lord covered the mountain with a cloud for 6 days, then the Lord called Moses and he went into the cloud for 40 days
This chapter gives more information on Moses’ encounters with the Lord.
After having received the Law, Moses shares it with the children of Israel to obtain their commitment to obey it. The covenant established was solemnized and confirmed by the burn and peace offerings.
Symbolism of the Physical Ceremonial
In this account, the elements of the physical ceremonial are symbols of spiritual realities that had been established before.
1- The Altar
Moses built an altar. The word for “altar” was first mentioned in the Bible in Gen 8:20, when Noah came out of the ark and offered sacrifices to God. The word in Hebrew comes from a root meaning “to slaughter an animal” or “to kill” or “to offer a sacrifice.” An altar was a place where ceremonial sacrifices were offered. The idea of sacrifice is even older than this and I will cover it later.l
2- The 12 Pillars
A pillar is a column. It is something stationary, a symbol of support. It is often used as a reminder of some event. Jacob built a pillar when he had the dream of the angels ascending and descending and met with God (Gen 28:18). Here they are a symbol representing the twelve tribes of Israel, standing before the altar in the covenant relationship established by their vow of obedience (Exo 24:4)
3- The Sprinkling of the Blood
The blood is the symbol of life and death. It was first was mentioned when Cain killed Able and God confronted him. (Gen 4:10-11)
4- The Sacrifices
The word sacrifice implies the slaughter of an animal. It implies that someone’s life is given in place of another for propitiation or reconciliation or redemption. This is explained in detail in Leviticus and Heb. 10:4-10, Psa 40:6-8, Isa 53:7 and many other scriptures.
The first time a sacrifice was made, was after the fall of Adam and Eve, when God provided for the covering of their nakedness with the skin of an animal (Gen 3:21).
However, all the sacrifices were inadequate to achieve redemption and only symbolized the coming perfect sacrifice The final and perfect sacrifice was that of Jesus offering His life for our sins (Heb 10:10).
5- The Burnt Offering
The Hebrew word for burnt offering implies the meaning “to go up in smoke” that is a complete destruction of the flesh. This was the offering made by Noah in Gen 8:20. This is also Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross (Heb 9:11-14) and the sacrifice of our flesh that we are called to make in Rom 12:1-2.
6- The Peace Offering
Peace offering goes further than burn offering. It establishes a covenant relationship between God and man. The blood is first sprinkled on the altar and then on the people (Exo 24:5-8) and it was done after the promise of obedience to God’s commands. Jesus’ sacrifice was also a peace offering for us (Eph 2:14-17)
Different Experiences of God
The Word of God says that God shows no partiality (Act 10:34), however, here we can see an important principle. Not everybody can come equally close to and equally experience God. Moses could get closer than anybody else. The others could approach God depending on their spiritual experience and development (Exo 24:9-11, 13-15).
This is important to understand because even if God treats everybody equally, not everybody is equal before God. There are different levels of experience and development (1 John 2:12-14), different gifting (Eph 4:11-12, 1 Cor 12:4-12) and different calls and degree of commitment, but God is the one who distributes these according to His will (1 Cor 12:11).
According to our spiritual experience, we will have different responsibilities (Exo 24:14).
The Revelation of How to Worship God
It is important to understand the symbolism of the ceremonial followed up to this point in the Bible. It was what God designed to worship Him and was part of His plan. Now Moses reaches a new level of revelation and understanding and the worshiping ceremonial becomes even more detailed and symbolic as we will see in the following chapters.
A Present Perspective
What is the difference in our worship experience today compared to that described in the Old Testament?
Prayer of Faith
Thank you Father for Your Word and the understanding that we have today of the Old and New testament because of Jesus’ coming and the Holy Spirit revealing the truth to us. We can appreciate and benefit from understanding how God operated in the past and how He operates today. We have the blessings to receive all that once was only a type and now is the fulfillment of God’s plan for us. I am grateful for everything you have done for me and everyone who has accepted Jesus’ perfect sacrifice.
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen!
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