Have you ever made a promise to someone else? Were there conditions to the promise? For example, did you specifically agree upon what conditions the promise could be broken or what must be done in order to ensure that the promise would be kept? As far as this chapter goes, the people of Israel agreed to keep the conditions of the covenant made between God and them. But there is a significant aspect of this chapter that adds more significance to the covenant…
Then the Lord instructed Moses: “Come up here to me, and bring along Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of Israel’s elders. All of you must worship from a distance. 2 Only Moses is allowed to come near to the Lord. The others must not come near, and none of the other people are allowed to climb up the mountain with him.”
3 Then Moses went down to the people and repeated all the instructions and regulations the Lord had given him. All the people answered with one voice, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded.”
4 Then Moses carefully wrote down all the Lord’s instructions. Early the next morning Moses got up and built an altar at the foot of the mountain. He also set up twelve pillars, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 Then he sent some of the young Israelite men to present burnt offerings and to sacrifice bulls as peace offerings to the Lord. 6 Moses drained half the blood from these animals into basins. The other half he splattered against the altar.
7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it aloud to the people. Again they all responded, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded. We will obey.”
8 Then Moses took the blood from the basins and splattered it over the people, declaring, “Look, this blood confirms the covenant the Lord has made with you in giving you these instructions.”
9 Then Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel climbed up the mountain. 10 There they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there seemed to be a surface of brilliant blue lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself. 11 And though these nobles of Israel gazed upon God, he did not destroy them. In fact, they ate a covenant meal, eating and drinking in his presence!
12 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain. Stay there, and I will give you the tablets of stone on which I have inscribed the instructions and commands so you can teach the people.” 13 So Moses and his assistant Joshua set out, and Moses climbed up the mountain of God.
14 Moses told the elders, “Stay here and wait for us until we come back. Aaron and Hur are here with you. If anyone has a dispute while I am gone, consult with them.”
15 Then Moses climbed up the mountain, and the cloud covered it. 16 And the glory of the Lord settled down on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from inside the cloud. 17 To the Israelites at the foot of the mountain, the glory of the Lord appeared at the summit like a consuming fire. 18 Then Moses disappeared into the cloud as he climbed higher up the mountain. He remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
The covenant was signed with the blood of a bull. This blood was essential to the union. Without blood this covenant was not binding. Therefore it was through the life that is found in the blood that God set apart the Israelite nation. A portion of the blood was sprinkled upon the altar. This signified that the people had consecrated themselves—body, mind, and soul—to God. A portion was sprinkled upon the people. This signified that through the sprinkled blood of Christ, God graciously accepted them as His special treasure. Thus the Israelites entered into a solemn covenant with God. It would be through the blood of the Perfect Sacrifice that we would all be set aside as a special people of the Lord. Therefore, “You are royal priests, a holy nation, and God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9). The wonderful aspect of this promise is that Jesus has already fulfilled His promise. Our actions of appreciation are all in response to what God has already done for us. We abide by His conditions because of His love for us. We love Him and keep His commandments because He first loved us. It is by allowing Jesus to live in our heart that we can fulfill His will for our lives.
Dear Jesus, we want to fulfill your perfect will in our lives. Help us to abide in You and allow You to abide in us. In your name, Amen.
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Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.