Daily Bible Studies
Series Theme: Exodus Studies (Series 2 of 3 - chapters 20 to 24)
The Law in Exodus
Chapter: Exodus 23
Passage: Exodus 23:20-26
A. Find Out:
1. Who was God sending to do what? v.20
2. What were they to do, and why? v.21
3. What will the Lord do if they listen? v.22
4. How will that work out in practice? v.23
5. What were they to do in respect of their idols? v.24
6. What were they to do in respect of God & what would He do? v.25a
7. What further will happen as a result? v.25b,26
1. What appears the role of an angel here?
2. What is the link between him and God?
3. How, therefore, were Israel to respond to the angel?
The word for angel here could also be simply translated, ‘messenger'. It could therefore refer to a member of the angelic host, it could refer to Moses, or it could refer to the pillar of fire. These are all options suggested by commentators through the years.
The call to Israel is to follow this messenger and listen to him and obey him, for he comes as God's representative. As with all calls to obedience there is linked to it an outcome; the Lord will oppose those who oppose Israel and when they go into the Promised Land, He will destroy all the occupants of that land.
Then comes an instruction as to what to do when they enter that land: destroy all the idols and ensure they don't take on the heathen practices of the occupants. Instead of worshipping man-made things they are to worship the Lord alone. Again, with obedience comes an outcome: the Lord will bless their food and water and will grant them heath and wholeness so they will be free of sickness. Good health and long life are God's promise of blessing on their lives if they obey all He says to them. What an amazing promise in a world that is so often full of sickness and infirmity. Being part of Israel wasn't just obeying commands, it was also receiving the blessings!
1. God's commands have very real, practical consequences – good!
2. God designed us. God knows best how we work!
Chapter: Exodus 23
Passage: Exodus 23:27-33
A. Find Out:
1. What did the Lord say He would do? v.27,28
2. What would He not do, and why? v.29
3. How would He do it? v.30
4. What was the extent of the land? v.31
5. What were they do in respect of the inhabitants and why? v.31b-33
1. What was the Lord's strategy for taking over the land?
2. What was Israel's part in it?
3. What was the greatest danger for them?
In verses 27 to 30 we find the Lord's strategy for clearing the land. First of all He will bring fear on the inhabitants who stand before Israel, and that will melt their hearts so that they will flee before Israel. How will He do that? We don't know but perhaps He just whispered into their minds and stirred terror of this massive force coming to take over this land. However, He will not do it all in one go or the land will be emptied before Israel have time to move in and the wild animals would take over. No, instead He will do it in small stages so that they will fall back as Israel come, and Israel can take over the land without the land being left fallow. It will also allow Israel to increase in numbers, increase in strength and increase in courage – in stages.
Verses 31 to 33 declare the extent of the land the Lord is giving to them, together with a serious warning. It is essential that Israel completely clear out all the idol-worshipping pagans who habit the land at the present. If they do not, the danger is that they will accept and even take on those practices of false idol worship themselves, and lose the reality of their relationship with the Lord. Although this may sound mundane to us and we may wonder how such a thing could happen, this was in fact, the greatest threat to the future existence of Israel. It did turn out in the years to follow to be THE thing that undermined Israel and eventually led to their exile. This was a critical instruction ignored.
1. God goes ahead of His people in the battles He chooses for them.
2. Separation to God is a critical issue for the people of God.
Chapter: Exodus 24
Passage: Exodus 24:1-4
A. Find Out:
1. Who did the Lord call? v.1
2. Who was to come near and who not? v.1c,2
3. What did Moses go and do? v.3a
4. What response did he get? v.3b
5. What did he then do? v.4a
6. What did he do next morning? v.4b
1. Reread 20:21. Where has Moses been hearing the Lord?
2. So what does he next have to do?
3. And what will follow that?
Moses, you will remember from Study No.9, has gone up the mountain a fourth time and it was on this occasion that he received the various laws that we have been considering. At the end of this conversation with the Lord, the Lord instructs him to bring near the priestly leaders and the seventy elders. So, according to the instructions, there will be the people at the bottom, the leaders will be part way up, and Moses further up meeting with the Lord.
So the next thing is for Moses to go down the mountain and convey this to the people and the leaders. However, before giving the new instructions to come up to the leaders, Moses conveys to the people all the laws the Lord has spoken to him. It has evidently been a very vivid encounter and he is able to come down and recount all of these laws which he then writes down (v.4). The next step will be to prepare the leaders to meet with the Lord on the mountainside.
We have thus seen how the first set of the Law has been conveyed to Israel from the Lord. The Lord spoke it and Moses wrote it. This did not include the Ten Commandments which the Lord spoke and then conveyed on two slabs of stone. In that sense they stood out and above the rest of the law conveyed by the Lord.
2. The other laws were important, spoken by God, written by Moses.
Chapter: Exodus 240
Passage: Exodus 24:4-8
A. Find Out:
1. What did Moses do next morning? v.4b
2. Who did he then instruct to do what? v.5
3. What did Moses do with the blood? v.6
4. What did he then read and with what response? v.7
5. What did he then do with the remaining blood? v.8
6. Read also Heb 9:18-22, Mt 26:28
1. What did we say earlier blood represented?
2. Why do you think blood played such a big part here?
3. What was actually taking place here?
When you stop to think of what was happening here it is quite ghastly! A number of animals (possibly one for each tribe) are killed and the blood drained off. The meat is either burnt (symbolically given to God in the burnt offering), or eaten (fellowship offering), and the drained off blood saved for use. Large amounts of this red liquid is gruesome.
We saw earlier in the Note after Study 21 that blood represents the life of a creature (Lev 17:11 ). These animals are dead because this blood has been taken from them. It represents their life. But it gets worse. Half of this large amount of blood is sprinkled over the altar. It's not poured out. That is too easy and too quick. It is sprinkled. It's like you might decorate a wall by sprinkling it with a different colour. It is slow and systematic and you have time to think about it. This altar is being covered slowly with the life of other creatures.
But it gets worse. The other half of this drained off blood Moses now sprinkles over the people. Imagine standing there and being splattered with this blood. Yuck! Messy and horrible. Everyone is the same. You have been covered with the sign of the life of another. This is the sign of the covenant. You have to be covered with the signs of someone else's life, someone who gave their life so that you can live, someone who stood in for you and took the capital punishment due to you for your sins. What a picture!
1. To walk with God your sins have to be dealt with.
2. Sins are dealt with by another taking your punishment.
Chapter: Exodus 24
Passage: Exodus 24:9-18
A. Find Out:
1. Who went up and saw God? v.9,10
2. What did they see and what happened? v.10,11
3. What did the Lord tell Moses to do and why? v.12,13
4. What provision did Moses make for the people? v.14
5. What happened on the mountain in the next seven days? v.15-17
6. How long did Moses stay up there? v.18
1. What seemed to be the first level of revelation, involving who?
2. What was the next level of revelation involving who
3. What seemed to happen at the two levels?
The Covenant has been made with the giving of the law and the reading of it and agreement to it by the people (v.3,7), followed by the ceremonial sacrifices and sprinkling of blood. One further thing remains for oriental agreements to be finalised, a covenant meal, and so Moses, Joshua, the priests and the elders go part way up the mountain and eat in the presence of the Lord. Here they are allowed a partial revelation of the Lord, for all that is described is the place where He stood. Yet this they are allowed to see and live. From here Moses is called alone higher up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments from the Lord in the form of the tablets of stone.
Moses initially takes Joshua, his servant, presumably who stops part way and acts a check to stop anyone else coming up. Moses continues up. A cloud comes down on the mountain top accompanied by the glory of the Lord, seen by the people below as fire. For six days Moses has to wait alone and on the seventh the Lord joins him, so to speak. Moses stays on the mountain for well over a month. Why? Presumably to commune with God and to receive the further revelation that is next given in the book. It is often assumed that Moses fasted but it may be that he took supplies from the fellowship offering that had just been made.
1. God is the one who always takes the initiative. Let Him lead.
2. God brings revelation of Himself to who He will. He is sovereign.
RECAP - "The Words (2)" - Exodus Chapters 23-24
In this final group of 5 studies we have seen :
- the Lord instructing them to follow His angel ( 23:20 -23)
- the Lord warning against idol worship ( 23:24 -26)
- the Lord explaining how He will clear the land ( 23:27 -33)
- the Lord instructing Moses to come up again (24:1,2)
- Moses making preparations to return (24:3-8)
- the leaders going up the mountain (24:9-11)
- Moses going up the mountain for forty days (24:12-18)
Having come to the end of the first laws, the Book of the Covenant, the Lord continues speaking, telling Moses how He will lead the people to enter the Promised Land, and how he will only gradually remove the existing people there. Finally He tells Moses to bring his leaders up on the mountain with him the next time he comes up.
Moses goes down and tells the people all that he has received from the Lord and then writes it in a book, hereafter known as the Book of the Covenant. The people twice declare their commitment to obey all these laws. Moses then prepares the people to encounter the Lord again by establishing an altar, and sacrificing as instructed. Finally he and the leaders go back up the mountain and he leaves them part way and goes up alone to meet with the Lord for the next forty days.
1. God leads, we follow. A call to obedience!
2. Obedience always brings blessing. We are to be a blessed people.
3. The Lord will deal with the enemy, His way and in His time.
4. When the Lord brings His word to us, He looks for a good response.
5. Salvation comes through the death of the Lamb of God.
Thank the Lord for the wonder of the salvation that He has prepared for us, for the Lamb that was slain to enable us to become the people of God, and for the life He has designed for us, whereby He provides for us, leads us, fights for us, and draws us near.
In these studies we have seen:
1. "The Words (1)" Exodus Ch.20
2. "The Laws" Exodus 21:1 – 23:19
3. "The Words (2)" Exodus 23:20 – 24:18
As we come to the end of these studies, we may wish to consider the following:
Encounters with God
These chapters have all been about Moses' encounters with the Lord on Mount Sinai, after the Exodus. Five times so far, the record shows Moses climbing the mountain to meet with the Lord and there he receives the Law.
Principles that may be suggested here are that:
Receiving from God
These chapters have also been filled with the early laws from God for Israel, first the Ten Commandments, then the other laws of the Covenant. These laws lay down the sort of community that God is creating through this people. They are laws that spoke to the practices of the day and ensured that there was a caring in the community and an ordering of life to bring fairness and justice when things went wrong. In all of this there is the awareness that mankind, including Israel , are sinful and therefore need rules to bring and maintain order, and care for the weak and vulnerable.
In addition to rules for society, there were guidelines for their relationship with the Lord. At its heart is truth and reality: there is only One God, so don't get led astray to any other belief. But this God is holy, different from any man-made or man-dreamt-up god. He is perfect and therefore whenever we have any contact with Him we realise our imperfection, our sinfulness, and our vulnerability to judgement. It is then that the Lord brings in the ceremonial law that provides a way for them to approach God, dealing with their failures by the means He gives. Within this we have a glimpse of the wonder yet to come – His Lamb, slain so that we can live in His presence without fear of destruction.
In all that God gives Moses, there is the expression of care and compassion, from a God who understands and makes an appropriate provision for us. Don't see the laws as harsh; see them as the provision of a loving, caring God for a sinful people, to restrain their sin and to deal with it when it breaks through. This is His salvation for this people if they will only receive it. That is what His salvation through Jesus also is for us. May we catch something of the wonder of it for them – and for us!