Verses of Exodus 24
Exodus 24:11 Commentary - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)
A SIGHT OF GOD IS A FEAST TO THE SOUL
Exo 24:11. They saw God, and did eat and drink.
GOD is every where present, but no where visible, unless he please to draw aside the veil, and reveal himself to us. It is in heaven alone that his unveiled glory is continually seen. There have however in former times been many occasions whereon he has discovered himself to men, sometimes in human, sometimes in angelic form, and sometimes in a bright appearance, in which no similitude could be traced, and of which no representation can be made. The manifestation of which the text speaks, seems to have been of the last kind. It was vouchsafed to a great many persons at once: and while they beheld his presence, they feasted before him.
In discoursing upon this interesting event, we shall notice,
The circumstances of the vision are particular, and deserve an attentive consideration—
[The persons to whom it was vouchsafed were Moses, and Aaron with his two eldest sons, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the “elders of Israel,” who are also called “nobles.” Who these nobles were we cannot absolutely determine; but it is most probable that they were persons of consequence in the different tribes, who were selected to represent the nation at large; and, if six were taken out of each tribe, they might in round numbers be called seventy, though strictly speaking they would amount to seventy-two.
The time at which they were thus favoured, was after they had consented to the covenant which God had made with them. Subsequent to the publication of the moral law from Mount Sinai, God ordained a variety of statutes, which were peculiar to Israel as a nation; and at the same time made with them a national covenant, partaking of a covenant of works, and partly of a covenant of grace. In this, they undertook to serve God; and God undertook to protect and bless them. This covenant had been confirmed by a sacrifice, in which the different parties had met, as it were, and given their consent to it. God was represented by the altar; and the twelve tribes were represented by the twelve pillars which Moses had erected near the altar, as well as by the seventy elders, who had been chosen out from among them. The blood of the sacrifice had been sprinkled on them all; on the altar, the pillars, and the people. The book of the covenant also had been sprinkled with it [Note: Heb 9:18-23.], to shew, that, though God did not relax the demands of his law, he would not be extreme to mark the unallowed violations of it. After this covenant had been thus made and ratified, God called Moses and the others to come up higher on the mountain; and revealed to them his glory.
The manner also in which God revealed himself, is worthy of notice. There had been a manifestation of the Deity prior to this: but O! how different from it! That display which God made of himself at the giving of the law was in “blackness and darkness, and tempest; and attended with such tremendous thunderings and lightenings, that all the people, yea, and “Moses himself, exceedingly trembled and quaked.” But, in this vision all was light and serene, and calculated to inspire the beholders with joy and confidence. The appearance of the Deity was beyond the brightness of the meridian sun; and underneath it “the pavement, as it were, upon which he stood, was like the sapphire” stone, or like the azure sky, bespangled with stars [Note: 0.].
Thus the vision altogether was suited to a new-covenant state, wherein the people were introduced into communion with their God, and honoured with these astonishing tokens of his love and favour.]
Such a vision is now vouchsafed to us under the Gospel—
[We shall not indeed behold God precisely as they did; for such visions have long since been discontinued. But there is a spiritual view of the Deity, which we may, and must, partake of; and which. we are authorized to say, was typified by the vision before us. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the preceding context is expressly quoted, and that too with some additional circumstances not related by Moses [Note: Heb 9:18-23.]: and we are told that the event there referred to, was “a pattern of the heavenly things,”, which we enjoy under the Gospel. The view which we have of the Deity, prior to our embracing the new covenant, inspires us with nothing but terror: but when we have accepted the covenant of grace, which was confirmed by the sacrifice of Christ, and have sprinkled on our consciences die blood of that sacrifice, then we shall be admitted to a more clear, but less terrific, new of God: his justice will appear more awful in the sacrifice which it demanded, than even in the curses it denounced: but it will be seen tempered with mercy; and ready to harmonize with mercy in every act of love. This vision we are to enjoy, not through the medium of representatives, but every one of us for himself. It is of Christians in general, and not of some distinguished favourites only, that the Apostle says, “God hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ [Note: 2Co 4:6.].” Here, by the way, we see where we are to have this vision: it is to be “in our hearts:” it is an object of contemplation to the mind; and not of sight to our bodily organs.]
Together with their vision, it will be proper to notice also,
It was generally supposed that none could see God and live [Note: Gen 32:30.]: but here the seventy elders, as well as Moses and Aaron, beheld him, and yet “he laid not his hand on any one of them” to hurt them [Note: This is the meaning of the words preceding the text.]. On the contrary,
They feasted on their sacrifice in the divine presence—
[They had sacrificed burnt-offerings, and peace-offerings. Of the latter, the offerers were allowed to eat, in token of their acceptance with God. Indeed it had long before been customary for parties covenanting with each other, to feast together at the ratification of their covenant [Note: Gen 31:54.]. And here, if we may so speak, the different parties feasted together: God’s part of the sacrifices had been consumed upon his altar; and the remainder was eaten by the offerers. And doubtless it must have been a precious feast to those, who had so lately trembled at the thunders of Mount Sinai. Their souls must have been yet more refreshed with a sense of the divine favour, than their bodies by the provision thus allotted for their support.]
But their feast was. no less typical than their vision—
[Christ, who is our sacrifice, calls all his people to “eat his flesh, and to drink his blood.” But we must not imagine that this refers to corporeal food: our Lord speaks of spiritual food, of which our souls are to partake by the exercise of faith on him. Yes, his atonement is indeed a feast to the soul: in this sense it may be truly said, “His flesh is meat indeed; and his blood is drink indeed [Note: Joh 6:53-56.].” On this we are to feed in the immediate presence of our God. However “far off we are, we may draw nigh by the blood of Jesus [Note: Eph 2:13.],” yea, “we may have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus [Note: Heb 10:19.]:” we may see God reconciled to us in him; and may rejoice in him as our God and portion for ever. The wonders of his love are to be the continual banquet of our souls. His “exceeding great and precious promises” are “a feast of fat things, of wines on the lees well refined [Note: Isa 25:6.].” Of these we are to “eat freely, and abundantly [Note: Song of Solomon 5 :l.]:” we are to “sit under his shadow; and his fruit will be sweet unto our taste [Note: Son 2:3.]:” yea, “we shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness [Note: Psa 63:5.] ;” enjoying a “peace that passeth all understanding,” and being “filled with joy unspeakable and glorified [Note: 1Pe 1:8.].”]
Those who are afar off from God—
[The prohibition given to the Israelites, is cancelled with, respect to you. The veil of the temple was rent in twain at the death of Christ, in token that a new and living way was opened to all, and that all who believed, were constituted “a royal priesthood [Note: 1Pe 2:9.].” Will ye then decline the invitation that is sent you? We are commissioned to go forth into the highways and hedges to call you to the feast, which a God of infinite love has prepared for you. O come, and partake of it. But remember that, in order to enjoy it, you must first accept, the new covenant, and submit to be saved by the free mercy of God in Christ Jesus. Sprinkle yourself with the blood of Christ, your all-atoning sacrifice; and then you may have fellowship both with the Father and the Son, and feast before God for ever on the provisions of redeeming love.]
Those who are inclined to rest in external privileges—
[Such was the case with the greater part of those to whom the text refers. One would have supposed that they could never have forgotten their obligations to God, or have ceased to serve him: but, alas! in a very little time, Nadab and Abihu were struck dead for their impiety; and of the seventy elders, not one, as far as we know, held fast his integrity. They were ready, as indeed were all the people also, to profess their allegiance to the Deity; “All that the Lord hath said, will we do, and be obedient:” but they soon forgat their pious resolutions, and revolted from their duty. Beware, Brethren, lest it be so with you. It will be to very little purpose to say at last, “Lord, Lord, have we not eaten and drunk in thy presence [Note: Luk 13:26.] ?” If you have “not been steadfast in his covenant.” your outward professions, or past experiences, will avail little. Maintain therefore continually your dependence upon Christ; and, in his strength, exert yourselves to fulfil his holy will.]
Those who are coming to the table of their Lord—
[We ask not whether you have a deep experience of divine truth, but whether you have fled to Christ from the terrors of the law? Have you seen yourselves condemned by the covenant of works: and are you seeking mercy through the covenant of grace? Are you really sprinkling yourselves with the blood of Christ, your great sacrifice, and coming to God through him alone? If so, behold, there is a table spread, and you are called to come and feast upon your sacrifice in the presence of your God. Come thither in faith; and your God will make his glory to pass before your eyes; yea, Christ will “reveal himself to you in the breaking of bread [Note: Luk 24:31; Luk 24:35.],” “and fill you with “his loving-kindness, which is better than life itself.” Thus shall you be strengthened for all future services, till at last you shall be called to “eat and drink at Christ’s table in the kingdom of your Father. [Note: Luk 22:30.].”]
Verses of Exodus 24
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Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)
Charles Simeon (1759 - 1836) was an English evangelical Anglican cleric.
Horae Homileticae reflects the rich source of Biblical understanding of Simeon, a towering figure in the history of evangelical theology.