Monday, June 07, 2010

Exodus 24 - Wedding Vows and the Wedding Feast?

Exodus 24 is a funny chapter - it's a transition between the first giving of the law and the giving of the stone tablets and the tabernacle instructions (19-23, 25-31). In between which we get the response of the people to the law, and a response of the leaders to an invitation made to them. Next month I'll have about 20 minutes to preach on this chapter which is brilliant but not going to be easy!

The last words given to the saved-out-of-Egypt people are:
Exodus 24v1-2: Then he said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar. Moses alone shall come near to the Lord, but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.”
The conclusion of the word of God is an invitation. How very gospel.

Moses returns to the people with all the words the LORD has spoken and the people respond in faith - to which Moses answers with lots of blood - blood on the altar, blood on the people. Faith and blood, not human effort. A covenant established with vows and with blood - this is like a wedding ceremony.

Then the elders gather to respond to the final word of this phase of the law. What follows us stunning:
Exodus 24:9-11 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.
The elders go up and "they saw the God of Israel" - and are not destroyed. They "beheld God" and more that that they "ate and drank". These elders meet God, live and feast with him. How can this be?! Jacky Lam writes:
Remember John 1:18 – no one has revealed the Unseen God except for the seen God Christ himself. They saw the sapphire stone, the throne in heaven! (Ezekiel 1:26, 10:1). They ate and drank before JESUS! This is truly prophetic of what we will be doing with God in New Jerusalem, that we will be eating and drinking with Him at the wedding feast (Matthew 22). And what a fitting time it is to establish this wedding feast, when the wedding vow was entered between God and the Israelites (when Moses read the Covenant out to the Israelites, whereupon they responded in Exodus 24:3) – and after the wedding vow of course comes the wedding feast on the holy hill.
This makes sense to me - this must be a meeting with the Son who makes God known, the one on the sapphire throne (Ezk 1:26, 10:1) which is stunning.  And it's set in the context of a covenant and a feast - which can't help but make us think in wedding terms. This is not the way I tend to think about what happens when the law is given - The law led them to Christ (Gal 3:24)!

Matthew Henry:
"Thus the believer sees in the face of Jesus Christ, far clearer discoveries of the glorious justice and holiness of God, than ever he saw under terrifying convictions; and through the Saviour, holds communion with a holy God."
After the feast, Moses returns to the LORD. He goes to the mountain where "the glory of the LORD dwells" and where the appearance of the glory of the LORD is like consuming fire. Six days there and then on the seventh day God speaks. Moses will be from chapter 25-31 receiving stone tablets recording the words he's heard already, and instruction about the tabernacle, seeing the heavenly tabernacle and being told to build a model exactly fitting what he sees - a model of the meeting place not just for Moses and the elders, but for all the people to come by faith via the priests... and then finally through the greater priest who will enter the heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 8:1-6).

"They saw God and ate and drank"

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