Exodus 24:5. Young men. These were of the firstborn, who were entitled to assist at the altar.
Exodus 24:8. The blood of the covenant, without which no man can approach the Lord.
Exodus 24:9. Seventy elders. All these witnessed the divine authority of the law, and of the ritual obligation, being nearly the same number that went down into Egypt. They saw [the glory of] the God of Israel; not his face, as Moses once asked. The pavement seemed to be studded with gems which refracted the beams of uncreated glory. Certainly this was one of the sublimest manifestations of the Divinity that the eyes of mortals ever beheld. It demonstrated to the heads of the nation the absolute characters of divine revelation, requiring perfect obedience.
Exodus 24:11. Laid not his hand. They saw imperfectly the divine glory, and were not struck dead, but were permitted to feast on the declivity of the mount.
Exodus 24:12. Tables of stone, that the precepts might be preserved in perfection to future ages. But these laws of holiness should be written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit, as the tables were written by the finger of God.
Exodus 24:15. Moses went up into the mount. The LXX read, Moses and Joshua; yet it would seem from chap. 32. that Joshua remained where the elders had eaten of the sacrifices.
Exodus 24:18. Moses fasted forty days. During these days, six of which were spent in preparation, he neither ate nor drank. Exodus 34; Deuteronomy 11:9. The vision and enjoyment of God was to him a happy substitute for food. Joshua is understood to have waited in the place where the elders had stood before.
Guilty and trembling man, conscious of sin, and apprised of the approach of death, has need of a sure covenant to which he may with confidence adhere. The Lord therefore was graciously pleased to give, and to ratify his covenant, in the following solemn manner. First, the words of the covenant are written in a book, containing the fifty seven precepts, in which God engages to give them the land, to deliver them from all their enemies, and in due time to send them the promised Seed, or hope of Israel. Secondly, the people promised by oath to keep this covenant, for they said three times, “All that the Lord hath commanded that will we do.” Thirdly, this covenant extended to their wives and their little ones, to the strangers who were among them, and to all future generations; hence the basis of it was, the new or Gospel Covenant, which shall never be done away. Pardon, holiness, and heaven, were all typically implied. Fourthly, the witnesses called to attest this covenant were no other than the heavens and the earth. Deuteronomy 32:1. And after the violation of this covenant, God appeals to these witnesses in a fine apostrophe. “Hear oh heavens, and give ear oh earth; behold I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” Isaiah 1:2. Lastly, the holy God, covenanting with a sinful people, required them to approach with sacrifices, and with the sprinkling of blood. The Testator, not being as yet incarnate, could not die; therefore beasts were slain to presignify the oblation of his body, and the sprinkling of his blood. Nor can he have any thing to do with man, nor with any of his services, till all his soul, and all his works are covered with the blood of atonement. And in this solemn manner must every christian covenant with his Maker. See Deuteronomy 29; Jeremiah 31; Hebrews 8. Nature, so corrupt as ours, needs to be bound by every tie, human and divine.
When God gave the law, it was with smoke and flame, with lightnings and thunders; but now covenanting with his people, the glory of his cloud is merely “dark with excessive brightness.” So it was when he discovered his glory on the mount to the three disciples. The pavement under his feet resembled sapphire, the foundation of his throne was bespangled with gems; angels and saints place themselves at his feet, and shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and ever.
Moses waited six days in sanctifying awe, before he was called into the glory of the cloud, nor did he see more than the glory of it. It is not till the six days of labour and toil, and the tears of life are past, that we shall be called to the mount of glory. Let us wait that short period in holy awe and earnest expectation, for we know not the day when he shall say, “come up hither.” And whenever that shall be, we shall not have to return any more to a backsliding and rebellious people. Joshua was also favoured in this view, though less so than Moses. He was designed to succeed Moses and in the arduous task he needed the support which a partial sight of the divine glory is calculated to inspire. The king's friends must have special marks of the king's favour; and the Lord is ever wont to favour those who are remarkably called to do and suffer his will with reviving views of his glory by faith. He will afford them strength adequate to every duty, that they may boldly speak and nobly act, as in his immediate presence.