Exodus 24:1 - G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

Bible Comments

We now come to the story of the preparation for the true order of worship. The elders of Israel were called to approach in company with Moses. So far as it had been received, the law was repeated in their hearing. This was immediately followed by the offering of sacrifice and the shedding of blood. Thus at the very heart of these laws for the conditioning of national life the necessity for sacrifice was solemnly emphasized.

Perhaps there is nothing more august in all the inspired ceremony than the account of the approach of the elders. We are told that "they saw the God of Israel." No description is given of what they saw. It may be that God manifested Himself to these men in the Angel Presence which He had promised. However, in all probability it is better to leave the sublime statement as it stands, remembering that it may be interpreted by the facts which followed. Almost immediately afterward Moses went into yet closer union with God and, as we shall find in a subsequent chapter, notwithstanding that closer union he craved something beyond it. In response, he received the declaration that none could see God and live. Spiritual intelligence will easily understand that there is no contradiction here. These men saw God and yet the infinite and final Essence could not be seen. The vision was characterized for the elders by immunity from judgment, for on them "He laid not His hand," and, moreover, by a sacred act of communion in which they "did eat and drink."

After this, Moses was called to go beyond the elders into the midst of the mount. There we may not follow him. We may see only what the children of Israel saw during those days, an appearance like "a devouring fire." Into that fire Presence Moses passed to receive the law in fuller detail and to see the heavenly things and to learn the pattern of earthly worship.

Exodus 24:1-18

1 And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off.

2 And Moses alone shall come near the LORD: but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him.

3 And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.

4 And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.

5 And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD.

6 And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.

7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.

8 And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.

9 Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:

10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.

11 And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.

12 And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.

13 And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God.

14 And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them.

15 And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount.

16 And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.

17 And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.

18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.