Exodus 24 Sermon Notes


Pastor Rick Duncan

How close is your connection with God? What’s your fellowship with Him like? How often do you draw near to God?  Let me show you from God’s Word, why this should matter to all of us – no matter what problems we might be facing.  

When we live in His presence we gain! I spent some time this week surveying Scripture to build a list of the benefits we gain from drawing near and living in the presence of God.  

Rest. My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. Exodus 33:14 

Shelter. He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence. Revelation 7:15b 

Renewal. Times of refreshing… come from the presence of the LordActs 3:20a 

Strength. Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually! Psalm 105:4 

Help. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16 

Reward. Whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.  Hebrews 11:6 

Joy. In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 

Exodus 24 

I want to remind you what God is doing in Exodus. He has rescued His people from slavery in Egypt and is now bringing them to a new home, to the Promised Land.  Why? Over and over, we’ve been told why. So that everyone will know Him as LORD (Exodus 6:7, 7:5, 7:17, 8:10, 8:22, 10:2, 14:4, 14:18, 16:6, 16:12).  He wants the people of Israel, the surrounding nations, and ultimately the entire world to know Him, to be in relationship with Him, to live in His presence. And here, in Exodus 24, we see the people of God getting a taste of what it’s like to be in His presence.  

In the beginning, in the Garden, in Genesis 1 and 2, Adam and Eve walked and talked and fellowshipped with God. Togetherness. Closeness. Intimacy. Unity. Love. All these words described the kind of presence God enjoyed with His people.  

But when they rebelled against God and sinned, everything changed. They hid from God. And we’ve been hiding ever since. We have a God-shaped vacuum in our hearts that can only be filled by God Himself. Deep down, we know that. But we still resist Him. We try to fill our lives with things other than God. Food, drink, sports, fun, work, church… But none of that fills us up. Sin separates us from God.  

Now, it’s good for us that God is not OK with that! He’s seeking to restore our relationship with Him. God wants to rescue rebels so that they will come close. He wants to turn His enemies into friends.  He wants togetherness, closeness, intimacy, unity, love. He wants to be seen and known, to be loved and obeyed, to be followed and served. He wants us to walk with Him, to live life in His presence.  We should want that, too! Because with Him comes joy and rest and strength and help!  

God doesn’t want us to be close to Him because He’s insecure. As our Maker, He knows that when we come to know Him and love Him and serve Him, it will be good for us. It will go well for us. We will be blessed. So, what we have in Exodus 24 is an invitation for 70+ representatives of the people of God to come closer.  

God gives the people a taste of what they’ve been missing and a taste of what is to come. We are meant to see that this God is unlike any other so-called god in the ancient world. You couldn’t come close to those gods. But the LORD? He’s the only true God and, even though He’s holy and awesome and fearful and majestic, He can be approached. 

Is He a consuming fire? Yes! Is He accompanied by lightning and thunder and earthquakes and smoke? Yes! Should we only dare approach Him with great reverence, respect, fear, and trembling? Yes! All true. Nevertheless, He invites us to come close and receive gifts.  

We’re looking at how the people of God approached God at a specific point in ancient days. And as we explore this story, we’re going to see some principles about how we can approach God in our day.  

How can a sinful, broken, dirty, law-breaking, rebellious enemy of a holy, awe-evoking God come close? It’s right here in Exodus 24. We can come close because of…  

3 gifts from God:  

  1. The Book of the Covenant,  
  2. The Blood of the Covenant, and  
  3. The Bread of the Covenant.  

Now, a covenant is a formal promise between two parties. Marriage is a covenant. That’s a promise between two equals. But with God, it can’t be a promise between two equals. It’s a promise initiated by God. And then He enables us to fulfill our side of the promise! He says, “I will be Your God and You will be My people.”   

The Book of the Covenant.  

God had a special mission for His people, the Jews. God is creating a new community to accomplish His purpose of blessing the world.  So, in the preceding chapters, He has given them the law. In chapter 20, we have the 10 Commandments – Laws that will help individuals, families, communities, and nations to flourish. And in chapters 21 through 23, we have additional laws. Kyle taught us last week that these laws show us that God values human life and seeks to protect the people that are most vulnerable – the poor, the refugees, the widows, and the orphans.  These laws demonstrate the very heart of God, that He is a God who is compassionate and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 

3 Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.”  

So, Moses tells the people the word of God: The Ten Commandments and what’s called the Covenant Code, Exodus 21-23. And they say, “We’ll keep all these rules.”  

4 And Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD.  

Moses writes down the Word of God. God Himself writes the 10 Commandments on stone. Then Moses, under divine inspiration, writes down chapters 21, 22, and 23. If you love to hear or read the Bible, this is a big deal. Scholars say this is the beginning of the written Word of God! Time passes while Moses writes… 

7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.”  

Again, the people promise to keep all the rules! “We are ready to enter into this covenant relationship.” (By the way, God knows that they aren’t going to be able to keep all these laws!)  

During this series, we’ve talked about the New City Catechism. Question 15: Since No One Can Keep the Law, What Is Its Purpose? That we may know the holy nature and will of God, and the sinful nature and disobedience of our hearts; and thus our need of a Savior. 

Because of the Book of the Covenant, I see the very nature in the character of God in His commands. He is looking out for the weak and the vulnerable and the poor. He hears the cries of those who are being treated unjustly. And I want to be close to a God like that.  

But I also see that my heart is inclined not to look out for the vulnerable. I look out for me, myself, and mine. I am not like God. The law convicts me of my sin, God’s righteousness, and judgement to come. I see my sins and shortcomings. I don’t treat people with justice. I have broken all 10 of the Commandments. I am not a commandment keeper. I’m a commandment breaker. I should be cast away from God’s presence forever. I need forgiveness. 

So, how is it possible that a law-breaker like me can come close? Well, it’s through this second gift. Not only does God give us the Book of the Covenant, He gives us… 

The Blood of the Covenant

We cannot come into fellowship with God apart from a sacrifice. An innocent animal has to die in my place. A substitute takes the punishment that should be mine. 

5 And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD.  6 And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar.  

Why is a blood sacrifice necessary? We’re sinful and we’re in need of atonement. It demonstrates the awfulness of sin. It forces me through the gruesome of the sacrifice to be reminded that my sins against the holy God and against the people that He loves are not trivial. If an innocent lamb has to die so that I could be forgiven, then my sin – my lawbreaking – is worse than I could possibly imagine. 

8 And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” 

Half of the blood is thrown on the altar. So, it’s covered with blood. And then Moses throws it on the people. A sacrifice is necessary to establish the relationship between God and His people. Because in God’s economy, the shedding of blood brings about the forgiveness of sin. 

Read Hebrews 9:19-22. 

As gruesome as it might sound to our 21st Century ears, it’s sacrificial blood that buys our forgiveness and brings us into a relationship with God. It’s sacrificial blood that keeps us from God’s judgment. It’s sacrificial blood that brings us into His presence.  

Now, in the Old Testament, the cleansing was temporary. All those sacrifices for all those years were pointing to an cleansing that would be permanent.  

Remember! On the night that Jesus was betrayed, Jesus held up a cup filled with wine as symbol of the bleeding He would do the next day when He would be scourged and nailed to a cross. And He quoted this very language from Exodus 24. He gave the cup to His followers and said, “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.”    

We can come close because… God gives us the Book. God gives us the Blood. And… God gives us the Bread

The Book of the Covenant declares me a law-breaker.  

The Blood of the Covenant declares me forgiven.  

The Bread of the Covenant is an invitation to come close. 

The people are learning how to interact with God. Yes, He does seem scary. But He invites representatives of the people to come close.  We see here both the transcendence and the immanence of God. Transcendence: He is above and beyond. Imminence: He invites us to come close. We can go into the presence of consuming fire and not be burned.  

9 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 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.  11a And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel… 

Now, if you know a little about the Bible, you might be wondering, “They saw God?” You might know that later in Exodus 33 God says, “You cannot see My face, for man shall not see Me and live.” And in I Timothy 6:16 we read, [He] alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see.”  

Think about it. Without special glasses or lenses, we couldn’t look directly at that solar eclipse last week. How much more impossible would it be for a sinful person to look directly at a holy God? He’s too perfect, pure, dazzling, bright.  So, what does this mean that they saw the God of Israel?  

Well, they see some kind of a manifestation of God. They get a glimpse of God. No description of God is given here. The only thing described is what’s under His feet: a pavement of sapphire as clear as the sky itself.  

It’s as though they saw that the God of heaven and earth, standing with His feet on the sky! They got a glimpse of just how high and mighty and majestic and glorious He is. In Isaiah 66:1 the Lord says, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool.” They got a glimpse of that!  

And then the representatives of God’s people get a taste of the very reason for the Exodus. This God, who is high and lifted up, gives them Bread – a meal, an invitation to fellowship.  

11b … they beheld God, and ate and drank. 

About this verse, Pastor Ligon Duncan says, “God says to them, ‘Slide your knees up under My table and eat a meal with Me.”  

See, covenants in the Old Testament were often ratified with a meal. And that’s happening here. We share meals together and get to know one another. Shared meals establish greater intimacy in our relationships. We like hanging out and eating with people we love. And these leaders of Israel are invited to sit down and have a meal with God.  

It’s a picture of communion. That’s the goal of the covenant. God longs for you and me to have communion with Him.  

The Book of the Covenant declares me a law-breaker.  

The Blood of the Covenant declares me forgiven.  

The Bread of the Covenant is an invitation to come close. 

As we look back from our vantage point at Exodus 24, we’re meant to see Jesus. He’s called the incarnate Word of God in John 1:1. We could say He’s the living Book of the Covenant; He is the visible expression of the invisible God. And Jesus is the One who shed His Blood for us on that cross when He died in our place for our sins… The Blood of the Covenant. And He even called himself the Bread of life.  

He Himself is the gift – the Book, the Blood, the Bread. He is the invitation and the way for us to come close, to experience the presence of God. In fact, one of His names is Immanuel, which means “God with us!” His very name is an invitation to gain the benefits of living in God’s presence! No wonder it says about Jesus… 

We have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,by the new and living way that He opened for us… let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  

Read Hebrews 10:19-20, 22. 

When God is present, there is beauty and glory and dignity. Ugliness will flee. We’re humane. We’re who we were created to be.  

Jesus makes it possible for us to draw near for more… 

  • rest
  • protection 
  • renewal 
  • strength 
  • help
  • reward
  • joy. 

If people are making fun of you at school… If you don’t have friends… If you’re depressed… If your marriage is on the rocks… If you couldn’t make the house payment last month… If you’re on thin ice at work… If your kids never call you… there are no easy answers, no quick fixes…  

But God has made a way for you to draw near to Him in the midst of all your pain. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).   

Yes, you’re a law-breaker. Me, too. But He’s not going to reject us. He’s made a way for us to draw near. We can abide… day-by-day and with each passing moment.  Maybe today is your day to draw near for the very first time. We are saved by grace through faith. Sometimes, it’s helpful to express our faith in prayer. 

Dear LORD, I believe that in Your presence I will find rest, protection, renewal, and strength. But I am a sinner who hides from You. And I forfeit Your help, reward, and joy. But You have made a way me to draw near to You. Thank You for Jesus who died and rose again so I could be forgiven. Today, by faith, I draw near to You. Amen.  

Brother Lawrence was a 17th century monk in France. He was assigned to kitchen duty in the monastery, cooking the food for the day and cleaning up after. A dull task. But Lawrence began practicing the presence of God when doing his chores. He decided to have ongoing conversations with God. Lawrence believed God could be invited into everything he did. He believed God’s presence could be enjoyed anytime.  

Steve Case wrote a book, God Is Here, which is a modern look at Brother Lawrence’s book, The Practice of the Presence of God. pp. 26-27, 104-105. 

We can train ourselves to turn to God not just at the beginning or end of the day, but from moment to moment – from task to task. If you get distracted and lose your connection, don’t beat yourself up. Just get up. Dust yourself off. And try again.  

Don’t be satisfied with distance – going through the motions. What if you began to develop habits? 

  • to look constantly? (What are You doing in me, around me, for me?) 
  • to listen repeatedly? (What are You saying through this situation?) 
  • to talk continuously? (I see You. I hear You. I need You.)  
  • to ask frequently? (Help me. Guard me. Guide me. Forgive me.) 
  • to thank regularly? (I’m grateful for this blessing… and this burden) 
  • to sing routinely?   

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 24-25