We have been spending our time in the book of Exodus looking at God’s picture book of redemption. This book is not merely the story of Israel and how God redeemed them, making them his own people. This book shows how God was going to redeem true Israel and make them his own people. We last saw the people of Israel at Mount Sinai. God had spoken his Ten Commandments to the people. The people ask for Moses to go up to God to receive the rest of the laws and to tell those laws to the people. The Lord tells Moses what to tell the people concerning this covenant in Exodus 20:22-23:33. These laws are called the book of the covenant in this chapter (24:7). This brings us to chapter 24 of Exodus where we will be presented with God’s beautiful covenant with his people. But seeing what God does with the people with the covenant, we will see Jesus more clearly and our relationship to God through Jesus.
Preparing For Worship (24:1-2)
In Exodus 24:1-2 God tells Moses that Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel are going to come up the mountain and worship from afar. But Moses alone is going to come near the Lord. No one else is going to come near the Lord. Once again an important point is being made. Only Moses can come near to God. Aaron and two of his sons along with the seventy elders are going to worship on the mountain but they will do so from afar. Only Moses can come near to God. We have seen through the book of Exodus that Jesus is the new Moses which the gospels repeatedly paint for us in those accounts. Only Moses can come near and no one else. Only Jesus could come near and no one else. This chapter will bring us back to this scene in a moment. But before they come up something very important must happen.
The Blood of the Covenant (24:3-8)
Moses comes to the people and tells them all the words the Lord spoke and all of his just decrees. Listen to the response of the people: “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” They commit themselves to the covenant. God decrees the terms of the covenant and the people agree. Moses then writes down all the words of the Lord and builds an altar and the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars (24:4). The twelve pillars represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the altar represents the presence of God. Burnt offerings and peace offerings are made to God. But notice what happens next in verse 6. Moses takes half of the blood and throws it against the altar. Then he takes the Book of the Covenant and reads it in the hearing of the people. The people, after hearing the terms of the covenant, again respond, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” They declare their compliance to the covenant. Now look at what happens in verse 8. Moses takes the blood and throws it all the people. Listen to what he says, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” This is the sealing of the covenant between God and the people. First, the blood is thrown on the altar. Then, the law is read. Finally, the blood is thrown on the people. This is the blood of the covenant.
Blood is the basis for the relationship with God. God is teaching the people that the way to have a relationship with God is through blood. The blood sprinkled on the people indicated that they were now in a covenant relationship with God. They were now his people. They were marked as belonging to God. The New Testament implications of this image of staggering, showing us the role of Jesus and our belonging to the covenant.
The Blood of Christ
What happens here at Sinai is repeated in the New Testament. Rather than requiring the blood of animals from the burnt offerings and peace offerings, there was blood needed from somewhere else. This time, under the new covenant, the blood of animals would not be sufficient. Jesus would offer his own blood.
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:11–12 ESV)
This is a phrase found throughout the New Testament that is so easy to pass over: by his blood. Over and over again the scriptures described that we have been saved by the blood of Christ.
For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. (Romans 3:22–25 ESV)
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (Romans 5:9 ESV)
God desired to enter into a covenant with us. Jesus comes into the world and declares the laws and ways of God. Then Jesus sacrifices himself and through his blood we are able to enter into a covenant relationship with God.
Sprinkled With Blood
But this is not the end of the imagery. The scriptures also picture us as those people who have been sprinkled with blood. Listen to how the apostle Peter begins his first letter.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood. (1 Peter 1:1–2 ESV)
What are the elect chosen for? They are chosen for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood. This is a direct reference to this event at Sinai. Once the book of the covenant was read, the people declared that they would be obedient. Then the blood was thrown on the people. We have been sealed just as these people were sealed. We have been brought into relationship with God, belonging to him as his people and as his children. Isaiah pictured this would happen with the suffering servant. Listen to how the suffering servant song begins.
Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind— so shall he sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand. (Isaiah 52:13–15 ESV)
How will the Servant sprinkle many nations? When he is lifted up and exalted is when the nations will be sprinkled. Jesus said that he would be glorified when he was lifted up on the cross (cf. John 12:23; 7:39). Through the blood of Christ which was offered on the cross we are sprinkled with blood when we enter a relationship with Jesus. We come to Christ declaring that we will do what he has called for us to do. When we repent and confess our sins, we are saying that we will stop obey our desires and will do what God has called for us to do.
The Fellowship Meal (24:9-11)
Now look at what happens next in verse 9. Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders went up and they saw the God of Israel. Notice that what they saw was what was under his feet, which is a picture of how the earth is God’s footstool (cf. Isaiah 66:1). Are you stunned by what you just read? I am. They were able to come up the mountain and see God.
Do not forget what we were told earlier in Exodus 19 before God came down on Mount Sinai. God told the people that no one was to come near the mountain. If any person touched the mountain or any animal touched the mountain they were going to die. God is so holy and so mighty that no one can come near. We also noticed that God revealed himself in his words. He did not allow himself to be seen. But now that the blood has been sprinkled on the people and they have entered into a covenant with the Lord, now the seventy are allowed to touch the mountain and see God. What should have been fatal has now become a blessing! God should have destroyed them with divine judgment when they saw the Lord. But the blood of the covenant made this moment possible. But it is even more amazing that this. Look at verse 11.
And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank. (Exodus 24:11 ESV)
Rather than dying because they touched the mountain and saw the Lord, God did not lay a hand on them. They saw God and ate and drank. This is a picture of a banquet with God. It was common for ancient Near Eastern world to confirm the covenant through a meal (cf. Genesis 26:30). The breaking of bread together is also a symbolic act of friendship, even as it is to this day. We see this point made by Jesus in the upper room with Judas. The betrayer was eating bread with one who he was going to betray. This is the ultimate insult: to eat a meal with your enemy (John 13:18; Psalm 41:9). What an amazing scene that is given to us in Exodus 24! They beheld God and ate and drank. They ate these peace offerings as a sign of communion and their acceptance of the covenant.
Now think about in the New Testament how often Jesus is telling parables inviting people to eat a meal with him or have a banquet with him. Think about the symbolism that was happening at these times. The parables are teaching pictures of people banqueting with God. In fact, if you remember the parables were teaching the outsiders, the sinners and outcasts, were the ones joining in a fellowship meal with the Lord. Even more, Jesus feeding the 5000 also represented a picture of gathering the people together to eat with the Lord. John’s account directly ties the feeding of the 5000 to the Passover (John 6:1-4). This is the exodus imagery. Further, Jesus was eating in the homes of tax collectors and sinners. Jesus is eat with notorious sinners. Zacchaeus was hated and yet Jesus was going to his house to eat with him. Jesus is picturing what was coming: to see the Lord and eat and drink with him.
The Lord’s Supper
But then we have something today as Christians that is so staggering. Look at Exodus 24:8 and notice what Moses said at this event. “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” Moses calls this scene, “The blood of the covenant.” This term should be very familiar to Christians.
Please consider this setting. Jesus is in the upper room with his disciples and they are also having a meal. Matthew 26:26 says that Jesus and disciples were eating.
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:26–29 ESV)
When Jesus completes the bread, he takes the cup and calls it, “My blood of the covenant.” The Lord’s Supper is our communion meal with the Lord. The Lord’s Supper is picturing the fellowship we are able to have with God. The Lord’s Supper shows that we are in covenant with God. This is the blood of the covenant by which we are declaring that we will do all that the Lord has said and through which we are remembering the blood of Jesus that was given and sprinkled on us so that we are purified. This is the blood of the covenant so that we can behold the Lord and eat and drink with him. This is what is happening. How dare we ever turn the Lord’s Supper into a sacrament or an act of worship! This is a covenant meal symbolizing that we are friends with God, children of God, forgiven by God, and in covenant with God. The Lord’s Supper is a continuation of the Old Testament theme of covenantal fellowship through a meal. This is the picture of 1 Corinthians 10:16.
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16 ESV)
The layers and richness of the Lord’s Supper continues to amaze me. We are not just remembering the Lord’s death. We are not just remember the Lord’s resurrection. We are not just remembering that forgiveness of sins cannot come without the shedding of blood. We are not just remember the new covenant that established through Christ’s blood. We are also remembering that we are sealed in this covenant. This is the blood of the covenant, joining us to the Lord to be faithful to him and he will be in relationship with us. We are eating a meal with the Lord and beholding the glory of the Lord in the face of Jesus. This is a powerful reminder given to us each week about why we are able to come to Mount Zion and have access before the throne of God. We are coming to the blessings of Mount Zion and enjoying the privileges of his grace because the perfect Lamb in Jesus was slain and his blood has been sprinkled on us so that we can sit down with God and eat with him.
Think about this: we should not be on this mountain for God is holy and we are sinful. The blood of the covenant meets the problem of the book of the covenant. The people say that they will keep all that the Lord has said. But we know they will not. But the blood of the covenant solves our problem. God provided the blood of the covenant to keep us as his people. Oh, the wonder that we are able to have fellowship with God! Let us always enjoy the Lord’s Supper as a covenant meal with the Lord who has saved us from our sins.