September 4th, 2018 | Exodus 24:1-11
Formal ceremonies include rituals or practices that convey the seriousness of the occasion. Closing on a home requires signatures on legal documents. Testifying in court means swearing on a Bible to tell “the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” Getting married entails vows before witnesses. In that example, seriousness is mixed with joy and celebration, especially at the reception following the ceremony.
The ceremony affirming the covenant at Mount Sinai was of this sort, involving both solemnity and celebration. Just as meeting God on the mountain had been transformative for Moses, so meeting Him on the mountain was now spiritually transformative for Israel as a nation.
During the special event narrated in today’s reading, the people promised, “We will do everything the L has said; we will obey” (v. 7). Twelve pillars were set up, one for each of the twelve tribes. Sacrifices were offered, the blood of the covenant between God and the people (v. 8). The Book of the Covenant was read aloud. And the leaders were invited to a solemn, celebratory feast in honor of this momentous occasion. Moses was God’s primary messenger, but a second layer of leadership included the priests, 70 elders, and perhaps Joshua (vv. 1–2, 13).
The feast included eating and drinking, of course, as well as an amazing vision of God. He allowed them to see Him in a limited or indirect way, through a “pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky” (v. 10) They might have expected to die for the privilege,
but “God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank” (v. 11). The covenant was thereby fully ratified, for sharing a meal indicated that its parties were at peace and in close fellowship.
APPLY THE WORD
Eating and drinking together can be an act of both hospitality and worship (see Neh. 8:1–12). After all, according to 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Plan such an occasion soon! It might be a family dinner, a church potluck, a holiday meal, or a picnic in the park.
Today in the Word’s Devotion is a production of Moody Global Ministries
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