|Exodus 23 (NKJV™)|
|14||"Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year:|
|15||"You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty);|
|16||"and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.|
|17||"Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD.|
|18||"You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread; nor shall the fat of My sacrifice remain until morning.|
|19||"The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk.|
|20||"Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.|
|21||"Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him.|
|22||"But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.|
|23||"For My Angel will go before you and bring you in to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will cut them off.|
|24||"You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works; but you shall utterly overthrow them and completely break down their sacred pillars.|
|25||"So you shall serve the LORD your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you.|
|26||"No one shall suffer miscarriage or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days.|
|27||"I will send My fear before you, I will cause confusion among all the people to whom you come, and will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.|
|28||"And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before you.|
|29||"I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beast of the field become too numerous for you.|
|30||"Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land.|
|31||"And I will set your bounds from the Red Sea to the sea, Philistia, and from the desert to the River. For I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you.|
|32||"You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.|
|33||"They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against Me. For if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you."|
|Exodus 24 (NKJV™)|
|1||Now He said to Moses, "Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar.|
|2||"And Moses alone shall come near the LORD, but they shall not come near; nor shall the people go up with him."|
|3||So 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 has said we will do."|
|4||And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel.|
|5||Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD.|
|6||And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar.|
|7||Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, "All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient."|
|8||And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, "This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words."|
|9||Then Moses went up, also 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 sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity.|
|11||But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank.|
|12||Then the LORD said to Moses, "Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them."|
|13||So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up to the mountain of God.|
|14||And he said to the elders, "Wait here for us until we come back to you. Indeed Aaron and Hur are with you. If any man has a difficulty, let him go to them."|
|15||Then Moses went up into the mountain, and a cloud covered the mountain.|
|16||Now the glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.|
|17||The sight of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel.|
|18||So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.|
New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.
In this study from Exodus 23-24, we discover some interesting parallels between Israel and the church. We'll consider three Jewish feasts, the Promised Land, and the covenant relationship between God and his people through a mediator.
Beginning in the brickyards of Egypt and ending in the tabernacle filled with God's presence, the book of Exodus chronicles the deliverance of God's people from Egypt and records the end of their oppression under Pharaoh. It also provides an account of the beginning of a prophecy fulfilled: God promised Abraham descendants beyond number, and on the pages of Exodus we see Israel become a great nation.
In this verse-by-verse study, Pastor Skip Heitzig presents an in-depth look at Moses, the ten plagues, the ten commandments, the desert wanderings, the construction of the tabernacle, and more. As we study, we'll see the grace of God, witness the glory of the Lord, and a catch a glimpse of Israel's coming Savior.
Visit expoundabq.org for more information on this series.
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Hebrew Terms: שבועות Shavuot: weeks; שָׁכַן ; shakan - shekinah; to dwell; sefer ha berit: the Book of the Covenant
Greek Terms: paidagōgos – a boy's guardian or tutor, a slave who had charge of the life and morals of the boys of a family, not strictly a teacher;
Figures Referenced: Rabbi Shammai; C. H. Spurgeon
Cross References: Genesis 32:30; Exodus 18; Exodus 33:18-20; Deuteronomy 16:16;
When my son Nate was growing up, I had laws that he had to follow. He didn't always like the laws but there were laws nonetheless. For example, if he wanted to ride his bike to a friend's house, no problem, ride your bike. But as soon as you get to your friend's house, get on the phone and give us a call and tell us that you've arrived safely.
Now that law was simply so that he would remain safe in the environment which he found himself and we would know where he's at at all times. That was the law, he had to do that. If he blew that, there was an infraction. There could be consequences next time he wanted to ride his bicycle.
Another law that we put into a place was he wanted a dog and we got him a dog but he was responsible to watch this dog and feed that dog and clean up after the dog and the reason for that law was simple, we wanted to place within him responsibility for ownership in life.
Another law that we had is he was in bed by 8:30, and that's because we wanted his body to get sufficient strength to be able to handle school the next day and any projects that he might want to get involved in. And so these were laws. As I say, he didn't always like them but there were laws. But as he grew up and matured and has matured and now has a son of his own and he's married and he's taken on responsibilities, those laws are no longer in place.
They don't need to be in place. The laws were leading somewhere and that was to his maturity. Once a child becomes mature, those same laws aren't in effect. How foolish would it be if I said, "Nate, I want you in bed by 8:30. And when you get home, I want you to give me a call and tell me you've gotten home." They wouldn't fit in this context in which he's in today. He's matured.
Well Paul the Apostle tells us likewise the laws of Moses, under the heading of "The Law" was in his word in Greek, a Paidagogos, a tutor, a schoolmaster. Like in those days, they would take a child along and put requirements on that child and send him to school, eventually the child would mature and the child wouldn't need those laws or that schoolmaster or that tutor any longer.
So listen to what Paul writes about the law, 1 Timothy Chapter 1. He says, "The law was not given for a righteous person but for the lawless and the insubordinate. Not for a righteous person. So, we are pointed to Christ by the do's and don'ts of the law, we come to Christ. He puts a new nature within us which is very different from the Old Covenant, because the law was given not for a righteous person as I quoted but for the unrighteous and the insubordinate.
In other words, it was to tether the ragings of the old nature. But, once we have a new nature placed within us, we live in an entirely or should live in an entirely different level. So we're not bound by the law. We're servants. We're slaves of Jesus Christ. And it's not like we live lawless lives, we live better lives than the law could ever provide. It's things we want to do now because we're in love with Jesus, not because we have to do them.
Somebody said in something that I read that in the Third Century, one of the great rabbis, Rabbi Shammai, stated that there were 613 laws given by Moses. Some of you have heard this before, 613 laws; 365 were negative, 248 were positive. So, Third Century, 613 laws, that's what one rabbi said. David in Psalm 15 reduced the precepts to 11 precepts.
Isaiah reduced the number of precepts in Isaiah 33:14 and 15 to six precepts. Micah in Chapter 6 Verse 8 reduced it to three precepts. "He has shown you a man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you to do justly. Love mercy, walk humbly with your God." By the time we get to the Prophet Habakkuk in Chapter 2 Verse 4, he reduces all of the law to one precept, "The just shall live by faith."
All of that points toward the New Testament where Paul quotes that a few different times, "The just will live by faith." So the law was important, we're going to touch on a few of these things tonight but appointed to Christ.
A beautiful little poem I remember years ago that I've committed to memory is pretty simple, do this and live, the law commands, but gives me neither feet nor hands. A better word the gospel brings, it bids me fly but then gives me wings. What the law could never do, Jesus Christ can and will do in a relationship that we have with him.
So that's all preparatory for where we want to pick up now tonight in Chapter 23 where we left off, we're going to pick it up in Verse 14. If you remember, this chapter has been full of regulations on property rights and followed after the property rights, the Sabbatical Law or the Law of the Sabbath and then the Laws of the Festivals when they were to meet. That's where we picked it up in Verse 14.
Three times, you shall keep a feast to me in the year. You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. You shall not eat leavened bread for seven days as I commanded you at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt, none shall appear before me empty or literally empty handed.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread was right after the Passover. The Passover took place on the 14th day of the first month of the Jewish calendar. The following day began the day of unleavened bread or the Feast of Unleavened Bread, from the 15th of the first month to the 21st of the first month. So, our March, April, mid-March to mid-April would be that basic timeframe.
Now unleavened bread is bread without yeast. It harkens back to the children of Israel leaving Egypt, they didn't have enough time to let their bread rise and so they would have make unleavened bread, get some nourishment, eat it, get out of town.
So to commemorate the Passover was a 7-day stint called the Feast of Unleavened Bread in which this matzah bread, have you ever had matzah bread? It's made with five different grains and if you try to go to Israel and eat anything but matzah bread, when you're over there for this time period, good luck, you can't find it. The whole country is shut out of leavened bread and they eat this matzah made with five grains, I find it wonderful and tasty.
Now it says, notice in verse 15, "You will not come before me empty." That's explained in Deuteronomy Chapter 16 a little bit better. It says, "You will not appear before the Lord at these festivals empty handed." And then God explains what He means, that you are to give out of the substance with which God blessed you or in proportion to how God blessed you, you give back to the Lord for the Lord's work in accordance to how He has blessed you, all out of gratitude.
So that's the first festival, Feast of Unleavened Bread. Second, Verse 16, the Feast of Harvest, the first fruit of your labors which you have sown in the field, now that will become known as the Feast of Pentecost because it's 50 days after the sheep offering. And the third feast, Verse 16, the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year when you have gathered the fruit of your labors from the field.
The Feast of the Harvest or Pentecost fell on the sixth day of the third month of the Jewish calendar. It's sometimes called the Feast of Weeks, Shavuot, because it's seven weeks after this Festival of Unleavened Bread. The Feast of Ingathering comes in the seventh month. From the 15th day of the seventh month to the 22nd day of the seventh month is this Feast of Ingathering.
Now something to know here, these three feasts, these three times during the year which people would gather or congregate, are given here in terms of agricultural festivals, later on they will simply be called Passover, that would be the main reference, it will be Passover more so than the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It will be the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost, more so than the Feast of Harvest. And it will be called the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles rather than the Feast of Ingathering.
But at first, they're given to the children of Israel based upon their agricultural year, God will bless them agriculturally and they are to worship agriculturally before the Lord. Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles, those are the three times they had to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem for these huge feasts.
Now Passover speaks of redemption, the blood of the lamb slain in Egypt. They were redeemed out of Egypt. The Feast of Pentecost speaks of provision, God blesses them and the harvest and they give back to the Lord and they rejoiced, thanking God for provision.
The Feast of Tabernacles is all about protection, even while they were in the wilderness as they were coming into the land of Egypt. And they lived outside. They lived in tents and in booths. Every year they're to setup these little booths, these little lean-to's and leave their homes, their air condition, their bed and live in these booths. They still do it to this day. So redemption, provision, and protection sum up how they're to worship the Lord during the year. Those are the festivals.
Verse 17, "Three times in the year, all your males shall appear before the Lord your God." Now it says males because they had to come. But you ought to know that families really went together to the feast, they made it a family gathering. They wanted the kids and the wives to come along and be a part of a family convocation, a family gathering of worship. It brought unity to the nation as families from all over the land three times a year would make a pilgrimage up to Jerusalem. Socially and spiritually, they were united.
Now, we gather, how often? Well, sort of a trick question. We gather frequently. It says in the book of Hebrews that we shouldn't forsake the assembling of ourselves together but encourage one another. And even more so as we see the day approaching as the day of the Lord gets closer and closer. It's a lot closer now today than it was 2,000 years ago. It could happen in our lifetime.
And so we're to gather frequently for the same idea. I love the fact that the Jewish year revolved around God. God redeemed us. God provides for us. God protected us. So their whole lives were lived around in their calendar year what God had done in their past and wants to do in their present, all revolves around him.
Verse 18, "You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread, nor shall the fat of my sacrifice remain until morning. The first of the first fruits of your land, you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk." Or as the old King James says, "You will not seethe a kid in its mother's milk." Here it's translated, "You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk."
Now I read that and I go, "Okay. I promise I'll never do that." This is not an issue and I read this as pretty straightforward. I'm not to boil a young goat in its mother's milk. However, as a result of this verse, did you know that Jews today separate meat from dairy? It's called a kosher kitchen based upon this verse. And what they say, even though to me it's pretty straightforward as I said, I'm not going to boil a young goat in its mother's milk, promise, never be an issue with me.
What they say is well, if you eat meat and you eat dairy together, it churns in your stomach, the meat is boiling in the acids of the stomach. And there's milk or dairy and it could be that that milk is milk or dairy related to the mother of the meat that's in your stomach. So we want to prohibit any trace of breaking the law so we separate meat from dairy.
Now if you go in a tour to Israel and you get up in the morning at the hotel and you have breakfast, first of all, it's the best breakfast on planet earth, in my opinion. Fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, grains, you'll have dairy, you'll have all sorts of bread as a I mentioned but you'll have no meat at all. If for lunch you go to a place where they serve meat, they won't serve dairy. And if you ask about that, it's based upon this text, "You will not boil a young goat in its mother's milk."
Now, can I just say that I believe that's a stretch of interpretation? I'm not a Jewish rabbi. I'm not a Jewish scholar. I've got lots of discussions and I would say that this is a stretch. I don't get that interpretation. I would say that that's really straining at the interpretation. To me, this is as far fetched as the Jehovah Witnesses who say, "You can't have a blood transfusion because the bible says don't drink blood."
Now, I'm not going to drink blood. Promise. But in the medical emergencies, somebody needs a blood transfusion, give it to them unless they die. But the Jehovah Witness says, "No. It's unbiblical." Because the bible forbids you to drink blood which was a Pagan practice. So what's up with this? Here's up with this. It's straight forward. You're not to take a young goat and boil it literally in its mother's milk. You go, "Oh, why is that even in the bible? Why does God ever need to say that?" Here's why. According to archaeology, there's a town up in Syria, ancient Phoenician town known as Ras Shamra excavation. Digs were done in Ras Shamra up in Syria. And they discovered according to the sum of the tablets that were found, that an ancient Pagan Phoenician practice was to boil a young goat in its mother's milk as part of the worship to Pagan god. So what God is simply saying is, "I don't want you to be like Pagan people. Don't pick up their false practices in their worship. I want a separation from that." So again, it's pretty straight forward.
By the time we get to the New Testament, I think Jesus is putting his finger on some of these far reaching interpretations when he says, "Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites!" Listen to what he says. "You strain at a gnat, but you swallow a camel." Some of you laughed, that's good because it was meant to be funny. It was really like cracking a joke. You strain at a gnat. You see according to Jewish law, you can't eat anything unless it's completely bled. What if you're talking to somebody in a gnat that has a blood system, flies into your mouth and you swallow it. "Oh, no!" You strain at a gnat. And while you're straining at the gnat, you swallow a camel. In other words, here's what he's saying, you're majoring on minor issues. It's not the point. Stick with the point. And I believe the point has been stretched with this verse.
Verse 20, "Behold, I send an angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared." I like this. What a great promise. God's saying, "I'm going to send you an angel." I've never met an angel, only one. I've met -- I married her. Other than that, I'm not cognizant that I've ever seen an angel but the bible says that you could have entertained angels without knowing it, interesting possibility. But God promises his angel. There's a further description, "Beware of him and obey his voice. Do not provoke him, for he will not pardon your transgressions; for my name is in him."
Okay, this is getting really interesting now. My name is in Him. But if you indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and adversary to your adversaries. So you're going to go in the battle and the key to your victory is it's going to be this angel that I'm going to send, that has my name in Him. It will be the key to your victories. For my angel will go before you and bring you into the Amorites. That is their land where they live, where they congregate and the Hittites, huge kingdom, ancient kingdom and the Parasites and the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusite, and the Termites. No, if you're reading your bible, it's not written that way and I will cut them off.
Fast forward to the Book of Joshua. Joshua Chapter 5, after the battle of Jericho, after the battle of Ai. On the other side of Jericho, opposite where Joshua is standing. He sees a man with a sword drawn. And Joshua, the general, the leader of the Israeli army asked this man with the sword drawn, "Are you for us or are you for our enemies?" And the man with the drawn sword said, "No." It's an interesting way to answer that question, isn't? Are you for us or enemies? No. In other words, wrong question. You're missing the point. You said, "No, but as the captain of the Lord's armies, I have come."
Joshua, the bible says falls down and worships, that man with the drawn sword. And then, that man with the drawn sword says, "Take off your sandals, your shoes. You're standing on holy ground." Now, that was like a light in Joshua's mind because Moses heard that from the Lord God. "Take off your shoes Moses, you're on holy ground." Now this man with the drawn sword says, "Joshua, you're not in charge, I am. You're asking me if I am for you or against you. Actually, I'm the commander of God's armies, not you. I am the guy who is doing the battle." I believe that's the angel of the Lord. And the fact the he takes his shoes off and worships him in the same manner that Moses worshipped God could suggest that the angel of the Lord in the Old Testament as many believed is none other than a pre-incarnate form of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament in some visible form known by theologians as a Theophany or better yet a Christophany.
Now, we fast forward to the New Testament and we get some interesting verbiage by Paul, the Apostle. 1 Corinthians 10:4. I'll read it to you. "For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them and that Rock was Christ." Several verses transpire. This is 1 Corinthians 10:9. "And let us not tempt Christ as some of them, who are in the wilderness, tempted him and we're destroyed by serpents." It's hard to know exactly, but it could mean that Paul was suggesting that in the Old Testament, Christ himself was the angel of the Lord and responsible for their victory, protecting them and guiding them through that desert.
God says, "I am sending my angel. He's going to make your enemies my enemies all fight against them. The key to your victory is that angel of the Lord." Verse 24, "You shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do according to their works, but you shall utterly overthrow them and completely breakdown their sacred pillars. So you shall serve the Lord, your God. And he will bless your bread and you water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you. No one shall suffer miscarriage or buried in your land. I will fulfill the number of your days. I will send my fear before you and cause confusion among the people to whom you come. And I will make all your enemies turn their backs on you."
Now, you can see that these are pretty hefty, tremendous promises especially when maybe the people are thinking, "Okay, we're going to be here at a long time perversing this desert, not as long as they -- it was longer than they thought. And what accounts for their preservation, how could you remain out there in the elements 40 years? Where do you get all your in your provision? So God was saying miraculously, he's going to preserve them, stave off sickness, provide, prepare, et cetera.
Verse 28, "And I will send hornets before you --" this is cool, "--which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before you." Now, this could be literal hornet infestations. But since we have no record in subsequent history of hornets actually invading the land of Canaan, though it could have happen and it's not recorded. Some believed that the hornet was a metaphor as lot of bugs were metaphors in the Old Testament for invading armies that God would use, other invading armies known as hornets because when they come at you, it's like a swarm of bugs.
To displace those people on the land that God was giving to them. Verse 29. "I will not drive them out from before you in one year." Now, watch this. "Less the land become desolate and the bees of the field become too numerous for you." If you get rid of all of these people instantly, and then the bees -- the animal population grows and they are feeding off the land and growing more in numbers, it could be a big problem to you. "Little by little I will drive them out from before you until you have increased and you inherit the land."
Now, this is exactly what happened. Once they get into the Promise land under the leadership of General Joshua, it wasn't instant. It took several years to divide up the land and for the tribes of Israel to settle. And he went into the middle of it dividing north from south, so we have a middle land that campaign, a northern, and then a southern campaign to take the land. But it wasn't occupied for a period of years. And the land was settled.
There are few things that I want to remark on. And I want you to sort of take this to heart. Number one, Canaan, the land of Canaan, the Promise land, was a gift. It was a free gift. What I mean by that is the children of Israel didn't earn it because they were good little boys and girls, so God gave them the land. They were bad little boys and girls. They complained against God. They disobeyed God. They worship idols for a long time. That whole wilderness wandering was a failure and a preview of coming attractions. So it's not like they deserve it, they earned it. It's not like that was their land or they were entitled to it. It was a gift of God. It was grace. And somebody will say today, "Well, Israel is occupying the land in the Middle East and the Israelis are not entitled to that land." You're absolutely right. They are not entitled to that land because God gave it to them as a free gift. That's the point. "I'm giving this to you Abraham and to your descendants forever." It's a gift. Now, how much is that like salvation? It's very much like salvation.
Ephesians Chapter 2, "By grace, you have been saved through faith." Not of yourselves. It is a gift of God. None of the works(ph), is like any man should boast. It's a free gift. You didn't earn it. You didn't deserve it. You're not entitled to it. I want to be a good boy and a good girl, and I'm going to go to heaven, not going to work. So, it's a free gift. Canaan was a free gift.
Number two, occupying Canaan was a process. Little by little, step by step, one battle at a time, and do you know what this would do to them? This would make them depend upon God everyday. If they just went into the land and said, "Whoosh, Abracadabra" and all the enemies went away. Boy, they could get very cocky. So the fact that every battle they had to depend on God, trust in the Lord. And they learned that because the second battle, they say, "Oh, this is just a piece of cake." And they were defeated at Ai. So this was a process, it wasn't instantaneous and so it is with us.
Let me ask you something. Is Christian maturity instantaneous? No, is it like a light switch? Can you just turn it on and go, "Ping! I'm holy now. I'm perfect now. I'm a mature now. I've claimed it by faith." Well, if that would work, I would be the first in line. If Christian maturity came by a spiritual high or going to some great worship service and having something delivered out of me and then I was not perfect and holy. I'd be the first in line. But it's little by little. It's not all at once, so that I form daily dependents for sanctification upon the Lord.
Listen to what Paul, the Apostle said, "Not as though I have already attained or I'm already perfected, but I press on." That's Paul. I, Paul press on. It's not instantaneous. It's not a light switch. We would love it if the Christian life was all mountain peak experiences. David said, "Ye though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death." We don't like verses like that. We would love it if some people in their theology have told us that the Christian life can be victory after victory, mountain peak after mountain peak, I don't want any valleys, Lord from this mountain peek.
From this mountain peak, airlift me to the next mountain peak. I don't want the valley, airlift me to the next mountain peak, I don't want the valley. It's not going to happen so that's why Paul refers to this whole thing called Christianity as a walk, a walk. That's one step at a time, a little bit of progress at a time. "Walk in the spirit," he said. He didn't say sporadically sprint in the spirit or be instantaneously zapped by the spirit but it's walk in the spirit.
So Canaan is a free gift. Occupying Canaan was a process. Now look at it at the next verse and I will set your bounds from the Red Sea to the sea, that's the Mediterranean, Philistia and from the desert, that's down in Egypt to the river. Anytime you see "The River" it typically refers to the biggest river in that near that east which is the Euphrates River.
Now listen to where the boundaries God promised them are. It's all the way over in Iraq. God promised them that. "For I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand and you shall drive them out before you." You get that part? I'm giving you the land. It's a process but you have to put your foot on it so you have to take what I'm saying and actually walk through that land and claim it and appropriate it for yourself. You have to be involved in this process.
Here's the third thing I want you to notice based on this verse. Canaan was never totally possessed, did you know that? If you were to measure where God gives them the boundaries, God promised the children of Israel a land mass of 300,000 square miles. That's huge. At their peak, at their pinnacle under David and later on under the expansion of King Solomon they only occupied 30,000 square miles. God promised them 300,000 at their best moment. They only took a tenth of everything God promised. In fact, they won't occupy this until the millennium. In the millennium they'll occupy it. Their land borders will stretch all the way as God had promised them.
Now let's take this to what -- here's the sad truth when it comes to Christianity. The sad truth is we as Christians often settle for far less than what God has promised us to take and occupy. In fact, don't you think it's accurate to say some Christians are wandering still somewhere between Egypt and Canaan? These are wandering in the wilderness like for a long time, a lot of their Christian life and not enjoying all that God gave them. It was Charles Haddon Spurgeon; I'm going to try to quote it as best I can remember it. He said some Christians as to the river of experience are only up to their ankles. Others will wade up to their knees in that stream. A few find it waist thigh and oh, but a few find it a river to swim and the bottom of which they cannot touch.
How far will you go in this Christian walk that God has given to you? This experience with God while you're waiting for heaven and you're walking with God upon the earth, how far will you go? A lot of it is up to you. You can grow as much as you want to grow. Let me just commend the chapter, not for you to look at now, just for you to take a note of and go home and read. Peter II, chapter one, just to meditate upon that, with that question how far do you want to go. Peter II chapter one because Peter says, you know, you've been redeemed but you can add to your faith, not to your salvation. You can't be more saved. But you can add to your faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control and a bunch of virtues. And these things can be in you and abound. You can grow as much as you want to in your Christian walk.
Verse 32, you shall make no covenant with them, that is the people of that land nor with their gods. Okay, stop right there. You're going into land. I'm giving it to you. It's a process to get it. When you're there I don't want you to make any deals with these people, these people of the land and I don't want you to make a deal or a covenant with their gods. Now they're going to do both unfortunately and lose out.
They shall not dwell in your land lest they make you sin against me for if you serve their gods it will surely be a snare to you. Now here's what you're going to discover. By the time we get to Joshua chapter 9, and Jericho has been taken and the City of Ai has been taken and the children of Israel sort of on a victory spree. They're taking over portions of the land and settling in it. And the enemies are sort of fast tracking what are we going to do now? One group called the Gibeonites who lived in the land, they occupied part of the land. They decided to try to fake out the children of Israel and they did.
So what they did is they took old wine skins and old sacks that were torn and sewn back up. They put on old sandals and old clothes and put dust all over their animals, dust all over their body so by the time they got to the children of Israel which is only like over the hill because they lived there. But it made it look like they were from a far country traveling through, that they didn't occupy the land of Canaan, that they were visitors.
So they come to the children of Israel they go, "Man, we've traveled a long way and we've heard about you guys. We're not from this land." They're just over the hill. We're not from this land but we'd like to make a covenant with you. Now because the children of Israel failed to pray and ask God should we do this or not, you told us not to do this and maybe these people are telling the truth, maybe they're lying. Because they didn't ask God they were tricked and they made a covenant with the Gibeonites and it proved to be a snare to them. So God tells them, you're taking this land. Don't make a deal with the people and with their gods.
Exodus Chapter 24, in many ways I though it might not seem like it to you and I. This is the climax of the book, Chapter 24. It's a short chapter. We're going to be able to make it through. It's the climax of the book because here's why. The descendants of Abraham which were just a few, a little family have grown into a multitude in Egypt. They left Egypt and they're now becoming and will become in Chapter 24, a nation. A nation with a covenant that has drawn up, written down, and ratified. A nation under God, one nation under God, a theocratic nation where God is calling the shots and they obey his laws.
Verse 1, he said to Moses, "Come up to the Lord, you, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu". Those were Aaron's two oldest sons and 70 of the elders of Israel and worship from afar, notice that, that's the end point -- key position in the Old Testament worship from afar. And Moses alone shall come near the Lord but they shall not come near nor shall the people go up with them. So God summons them up to the mountain to worship, this select group of people.
Can I just say that worship is the highest privilege in the Christian life? In a relationship, worship is the highest privilege. God tells you to come up, come up. Don't live in the lowlands. Come up and worship me. It's the highest privilege and it's the greatest responsibility. Now, we have crafted for our fellowship here many years ago, a little mission statement, a vision statement. We call that upreach, inreach, outreach and what we try to tell people is we believe that these three things are the cornerstone of who we are.
Upreach, our relationship to God, our worship of God. Inreach, building one another up, discipleship. Outreach, reaching the world. What I discovered is many churches make it all about outreach or inreach. We've got to reach the laws, we've got to reach the laws. I agree with you. We've got to disciple, we've got to disciple. I agree with you but I contend that both outreach and inreach are predicated upon upreach. You can't do either of those last two unless you have a healthy, strong worship intimate relationship with God and if you do, if you love God and you are intimate with him you're going to be effective as a discipler, you're going to be effective as an evangelist in outreach.
Come up, come up, God says to this place of worship. So they all went up but they had to worship from afar except for -- who? Moses. Why? Because Moses is the key word, mediator. Go between, a mediator. So he'll act as the representative between God and the people. He's going to represent Israel to God and he's going to represent God to Israel.
So he's going to act as both a prophet and a priest. He's going to be the mediator.
In the New Testament, the Bible says there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ. God has a mediator in this new covenant and that's Jesus. It's not a pope, it's not a priest, it's not a pastor, it's not a pastor. It's not a rabbi. It's Jesus Christ. You don't need any person to go through to get to God. You come directly to God through Jesus Christ. And Jesus is the perfect mediator because as God incarnate, he can represent God to us perfectly. And as God incarnate or God in human flesh, as a man, he can represent humanity before God perfectly. One mediator, one go-between.
Now under the law, here's some really key here. Under the law, the people had to worship afar off. I want you to notice that phrase because I'm going to match it with one in the New Testament, Ephesians Chapter 2. It says "In Christ Jesus, you were who once afar off are brought near by the blood of Jesus Christ." You don't worship from afar any longer because Jesus is your mediator. He says, "Follow me into my Father's presence." Have and enjoy the intimacy, very different from Old and New Testament
So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, all the judgments and the people answered with one voice or unanimously and they said, "All the words which the Lord had said we will do." Now that's the second time they promised this. They said that a few chapters back, now they're saying it again. Everything God said, man we're going to do it all. I don't know. Call me weird but it sounds a little overconfident. It sounds like they're saying we're going to be able to meet all of God's standards on our own.
One of the deceptions that many people lived under is that I can please God on my own not knowing that God's standard is perfection, perfection. And that's why we need a mediator. And that's why we need a redeemer. That's why we need our sins atoned for in Jesus Christ because we overestimate ourselves and we underestimate God's standard. That's why the unbelieving world cannot figure out when you say we're all sinners. "Oh, I hate that word. Why do you say that? I try my hardest. She tries her hardest. We'll all get there, God will understand. He grades on a curve." They overestimate themselves and they underestimate God's standard.
Romans Chapter 3, according to Old Testament there is none righteous. No, not one. Now here's a little illustration and we'll move on quickly. Did you know that many people are allergic to chocolate? They're physiologically -- their body resists it. And it's not because chocolate is evil or poisonous. It's because there are benzenes within chocolate that their body resists and their body resists it in the form of an allergic reaction. Sometimes it's mild, sometimes it's severe, and sometimes people die. Not because chocolate is evil but because their body resists it.
Sin in men, sin and the law are like that chocolate in certain humans. You get to sin that is in all of us and the Law of Moses together and it brings death. Not because the law is bad or evil but because of the sin nature of man.
Listen to Romans Chapter 7. I'll quote it to you. "The law is not sinful. But it was the law that showed me my sin." I would have never known what coveting was and that it was wrong if the law had not said, do not covet. But sin took advantage of this law and arouse all kinds of forbidden desires within me. If there were no law, sin would not have that power. So the good law which was supposed to show me the way of life instead gave me the death penalty. The way the law reacts with the human sin nature is sort of like chocolate with some human beings. It looks good but it can kill you.
So the law was pointing to another direction, Verse 4. So Moses wrote all of these words of the Lord and he arose early in the morning and he built an altar at the foot of the mountain and 12 pillars according to the 12 tribes of Israel. Now this is the first mention. I always like to give you first mention. This is the first mention in all of the Bible of committing anything down to writing.
This is called the Book of the Covenant Moses wrote. Now, I've got to tell you something. For a long time, critics have said Moses couldn't have written anything down because writing wasn't invented yet. Really a lame thing to say especially as time went on and we started discovering things. We discovered that a thousand years before Moses people were writing things. In Egypt, there were things called hieroglyphics. And these hieroglyphics were pictures. These pictograms were actually words in a language. And then in 17 -- I think '98, the Rosetta Stone, not the language course, the actual stone was found and you can see it. It's in the British Museum. If you ever get over there and you're in London, take a dame(ph) and go see that museum and look at the Rosetta Stone.
The Rosetta Stone is a series of parallel languages and the way we were able to decipher what those hieroglyphics were is because one side is hieroglyphics and another is an ancient Egyptian script called Demotic script, and then on the other side is Greek so that if you could read Greek you could read that other Egyptian script and then the hieroglyphics. You get the message.
Now the Bible says that Moses was learned in all of the wisdom of Egypt. He would know hieroglyphics. He would know demotic script. He would know many of those languages that were very popular. Then there was an archaeological dig in Egypt called Tell el-Amarna and they discovered tablets and the tablets showed a cuneiform kind of a writing or a wedge-like writing which scholars believe now was the lingua franca or the common language, the universal language of that time that could be read, spoken, and understood in all of those areas of the ancient.
So Moses wrote it down. He could have written it down in cuneiform, probably he did that Babylonian cuneiform script. Verse 5, "Then he sent young men at the children of Israel who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord." Now, why? I don't know if you ever do this when you read the Bible, you read little things. Who are these young men? What are they doing? These young men, I'm going to guess are probably first born sons. And God said, "You dedicate to me" -- first-born sons who acted as priests until the priesthood gets established. It hadn't been established yet. It will be established in the process of these chapters. But until then the firstborn sons, these young men would offer sacrifices of oxen to the Lord. And Moses took half the blood, put it in the basins, half the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Why blood, why in the altar? To remind people that the sacrifice of blood had to be made to forgive sins. Blood represents the essence of life and it represents of the end of life, the ending of a life. For to get that much blood, something or someone has to die, the essence of life and the ending of life together because of sin.
Here's a text to throw in here, Hebrews 9:22, "According to the Law, almost all things are purged with blood for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin." Now what you're reading here becomes one of the most important teachings and doctrines in the Bible. It's called vicarious atonement, a big word, vicarious atonements. It means substitutionary atonement.
So that an animal dies, its blood is shed in the place of the person. And in our case, Jesus Christ died in the place of all of us so that we might be righteous before God and have forgiveness of sin.
Verse 7, "Then he took the Sefer ha-Berit" -- in Hebrew, the Book of the covenant -- "and he read it in the hearing of the people and they said 'All that the Lord has said we will do and be obedient." Third time they said it. "And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, "This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you according to these words." Now the Book of the Covenant that he writes are all that we have read from chapters 20, 21, 22 and 23. All of those instructions were written, codified by Moses called the Book of the Covenant.
Now does this remind you what you have just read where he says, "This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you according to these words." Does that ring a bell? Yeah, it does. When we get to the New Testament -- by the way "testament" is the English word from the Latin "testamentum" which is the Latin word for the word "covenant". So God made an old covenant by blood. Jesus made a new covenant by blood and at the Last Supper he said, "This is the new covenant in my blood" and those disciples knew this text, they understood. This is the new covenant that Jeremiah 31 predicted.
And Moses went up and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu and the 70 elders of Israel and they saw the God of Israel. And it was under his feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. Now there seems to be a bit of a contradiction. Yes, because on one hand it says here, or it says in the Bible that it's impossible to see God. John 1, "No man has seen God at any time but the only begotten son who was in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed him."
Remember Moses said "Lord, show me your glory." And God said, "If you see me, you'll die. I can show you as I pass by, you can see the glory of that but you can't look upon me. No man can see me --" he said, "and live". On the other hand there are passages where it seems that people have seen God and lived. We read one in Genesis 32 and Jacob was wrestling with the angel of the Lord and he called the name of that place "Penuel" which means the face of God. For he said "I have seen the face of God and I didn't die." And then we have this text that we just read here.
Now the rabbis will explain this as these people saw some manifestation of God but they didn't see God. Now I can buy it, I can kind of agree with it because here's the honest truth. For a human being to see God in unveiled glory would vaporize that human being. Just -- they're gone. They couldn't handle it. They die.
So I'm going to say it this way to explain this. They saw as much of the visible presence of God as they could without dying. Some visible manifestation may be an angel of the Lord, may be a vision like Isaiah Chapter 6, "I saw the Lord high and lifted up." That was a vision that he saw then, or maybe a vision like Ezekiel. Remember the one in Chapter one of Ezekiel later on and Chapter 10 of Ezekiel where he sees the throne of God lifted up, that crazy wheeled chariot that flies through. And the reason I say that is because of the mention here of sapphire stones, beneath his feet these sapphire stones.
Now as you're contemplating the texts here, let me read to you a couple of verses in Ezekiel. "And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in its appearance like a sapphire stone on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it." It could be a very similar vision that Isaiah, or that is Ezekiel had that Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and the 70 saw. But on the nobles of the children of Israel, he did not lay his hand, so they saw God and they ate and they drank.
You know when I first read that and I thought that's sort of a weird verse. Yup, they saw God and they had lunch. You know what this is all about? Covenants were sealed after the covenant was ratified, after the covenant was made by blood or by salt or whatever kind of covenant it was. It was often sealed by a meal. And the meal wasn't, "Let's just have a good meal and feed our flesh." The idea was to experience unity. They have just made a covenant together, and intimacy.
So they saw the Lord, they sat down to eat and drink. In other words, they were together in unity and in intimacy. Fast forward to Revelation Chapter 3, the church of Laodicea. Jesus said, "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man will hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and dine with him and he with me." So it's that active unity and it's that active intimacy. And you know what? We confirm the new covenant exactly the same way.
Next week, we're going to sit down and eat and drink. We're going to take the elements of the Lord's Supper, the bread and the juice, the fruit of the vine. Same thing, we're ratifying, consummating that covenant by these elements.
The Lord said to Moses, "Come up to me in the mountain and be there and I will give you the tablets of stone, the law, the commandments which I have written that you may teach them." So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua. Moses went up to the mountain of God and he said to the elders, "Wait here for us until we come back to you. Indeed Aaron and Hur are with you. If any man has a difficulty let him go to them."
Okay briefly, you recall the 18th chapter when Jethro said, "Moses, what you're doing isn't good. You're listening to everybody's accounts, you're trying to do it all, one-man show, one-man job, listening to the counsel or the problems of everybody, giving them counsel. You need to find people to spread out the load." Seventy elders were raised up for that. All of the hard cases went to Moses but while Moses is gone there might be some hard cases so he needs an executive team. And the executive team, are these two fellows here that are mentioned. One of them is Aaron and one of them is Hur. Now who's Hur? Well it's not him, it's her. No, Hur, it's not Ben-Hur either. Hur was Caleb's son and Hur is the grandfather of a guy by the name of Bezalel. How many of you have heard of Bezalel? I want you a show of hands. Raise them up.
Okay Bezalel, you'll get to in a few chapters was the gifted artisan who made beautiful artistic works for the tabernacle. And the Bible says, "He was filled with the Holy Spirit to make works of art." That's Bezalel and Hur is his grandpa. And Moses went up to the mountain and a cloud covered the mountain and the glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai and the cloud covered if for six days. On the seventh day, he called Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
Now you see in Verse 16 the word "rested", "the cloud rested.". The Hebrew word is Shekinah. It means to dwell. The Shekinah glory, the glory resting visibly in Mount Sinai, that's where it comes from.
The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain, the eyes of the children of Israel. So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went into the mountain and Moses was on the mountain for 40 days and for 40 nights. You know what he was doing for 40 days and 40 nights? Well he's getting Chapter 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31. Chapter 32, he'll come back down. In other words, when he's on Mount Sinai, this the second time he goes up.
When he's in Mount Sinai, he already got the law, now God calls him up for a set of blueprints. Blueprints, a tabernacle, a place of worship while they're in the desert and that's what we're going to be looking at in the subsequent chapters is what he got during this 40 days. Also, the number 40 in the Bible is often a number of testing or probation. And who was being tested for 40 days and 40 nights? Not Moses, the children of Israel. Did they pass or fail their test? They failed it because when Moses got down, he saw a golden calf. It already capitulated to idolatry, and they failed the test. Even though they said, "Everything God says, man will do it." And then they'll go, "That guy is not coming down he's been up there a long time like a month and ten days. Let's just worship false gods."
With every precept that God gave them, with every testimony, with every law, they had a choice. I'm going to obey this law or I'm going to disobey this law. I'm going to obey God and live or I'm going to disobey God and experience judgment and even death. And yes, the commandments of God, the law of God cannot produce eternal life and yes, they point as to Christ but God was tethering the old nature so that they can live harmoniously together. You have a choice. God says -- he always gives you choice. I set before you this day, the Bible says, "Life and death" therefore choose life.
I'll put it in our vernacular, our New Testament. I set before you eternal life through Jesus Christ or eternal damnation by not receiving Christ, which is it? Remember Indiana Jones in the Holy Grail thing, remember that movie? It's an old movie now. It's like Ben-Hur. In that movie there's this knight that's guarding the Holy Grail inside this cave, right? And there's Indiana Jones and this Nazi and they both want to find the grail, the cup, the chalice of Jesus.
And so the Nazi looks around and he finds this beautiful, gold, silver chalice and he is about to drink from it and the knight gives him a warning and he says, "Let me just warn you. Choose wisely." Because as the real grail has power to give life, the false grail has the power to take life from you. So the Nazi grabs it, pour something in it, drinks it and vaporizes. Indiana Jones looks around, sees an old clay cup and he said, "That looks like the cup of a carpenter." After the Nazi vaporizes the knight says, "He chose poorly." Yeah, he's dead. Indiana Jones drinks from the clay cup and the knight said "You've chosen wisely".
What will be said of you on the last day? She chose poorly. She chose wisely.
Father, thank you for a time of studying the word of God, part of an old covenant, a covenant of law not grace, a covenant by which men and women stood afar off, not up close. A New Testament you invite us close and intimate to experience unity in your presence, but you always let people make a choice; to receive Christ or to reject Christ. You stand at the door and you knock, you don't kick the door down. You don't force yourself upon people. You wait as a true gentleman to be invited into human hearts.
And even though this is a study in the Old Testament law it could be that that ultimate choice has been considered by a few people here who have not yet received Christ personally, who have not chosen wisely. You've made a series of choices that up to this point have been poor choices. They're living now with the guilt from those choices or the results of those choices, or maybe just a few people just feel empty and not fulfilled because they're not walking with human faith. Some remember what it was like to once walk in faith, make progress little by little, day by day, battle by battle with you but the freshness and the intimacy, the fellowship is gone. Lord I pray you bring them back to you.
Before we close our service and end with a song, if you're here tonight and you've never received Christ or you've turned away from him and you're willing to give your life back to him I want you to raise your hand up. And I'll pray for you as we close. I want you to raise your hand if that's a person, God bless you. Anybody else?
You're saying "I want to surrender. I don't want to follow afar off, I want to surrender." Bless you, sir. You in the back, on the side, anybody else? God bless you.
Father, for all of those with their hands raised, their hearts are poised, we pray Lord that they would understand your love, your forgiveness, your peace, you make all things new as they choose wisely in Jesus' name. Amen. Let's all stand.
I saw a few hands go up around the room, several actually and as we sing this final song I'm going to ask you if you raise your hand to put real feet on your decision. You raise your hand, now I'm going to ask your feet to move forward. And as we sing this song to find the nearest aisle, stand right up here and allow me to pray with you to receive Christ or to come back to Christ. No matter where you're sitting, if you're in the middle or in the back, as we sing even if you raise your hand and I didn't see it, or you're about to raise your hand and you didn't yet, your God is calling you. I want you to come now and stand right up here in the front and give your life to Christ. If you raised your hand, come up.
You who have come forward I want to lead you in a prayer. So I'm going to pray out loud. I'd like you to pray out loud after me. I want you to say these words from your heart, say them to God, say them to Him. Mean these words with everything that's in you. This is you giving your life to the one who gave you life to begin with. Ready? Let's pray.
Lord I give you my life. I know that I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe that Jesus died, that he shed his blood for me and rose from the dead for me. I turned from my sin. I turn to you as my savior. I want to follow you everyday. Help me. In Jesus' name. Amen.