A Bloody Confirmation and Covenant

April 6, 2015 at 10:45 am | Posted in Exodus | 9 Comments
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God had given His people the lex talionis and the right to execute the death penalty, but He warned them against doing this lightly, and of being swayed by deceit. Then He pronounced one of the major themes of the whole Bible.

Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.

Exodus 23:7

This theme is repeated again and again throughout Scripture.

It is the thread that doesn’t get talked about nearly as much as the scarlet thread of God’s grace and Christ’s redeeming blood that also runs throughout Scripture. The lines of God’s justice and God’s mercy/grace/forgiveness run parallel and they can never truly intersect – UNTIL the Cross of Calvary, where God does what would never have been possible with men. He bridges the divide between justice and mercy, between kindness and holiness, between forgiveness and wrath – between love and hate.

This is such an extreme theme – such a different way of thinking from any man-conceived way of thinking about death or the after-life – that in the next chapter (Exodus 24), when the Covenant is confirmed and ratified by the people, there is this stark and amazing and unforgettable ceremony. Not the mere signing of papers, not even an iron bolt through their ear lobes, but this bloody spectacle.

And 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 hath said will we do.

Exodus 24:3

This was a very solemn vow, and it was characteristic of a suzerainty treaty. There is no indication that this was done grudgingly on the part of the people, although certainly it was done with fear and trembling.

And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord.

Exodus 24:4-5

This was a major undertaking.

And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.

Exodus 24:6

This would have been a tremendous amount of blood. Some of it was designated as “belonging to God,” and some of it was for the people.

And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.

Exodus 24:7

The vow was repeated and reiterated.

And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.

Exodus 24:8

The blood would have remained on their clothes for days or years. Getting blood splashed all over you at a ceremony like this is something you would never forget. According the Word of the Lord, redemption (and therefore forgiveness) requires the shedding of blood. Atonement with God requires death. Here the animals were sacrificial substitutes, but to justify the wicked, the blood of a man – a perfect Man – would one day be required.


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  6. […] Exposed (Exodus 23:2-3) 42. The Forbidden Recipe and the Special Angel (Exodus 23:19-21, 20:22-23) 43. A Bloody Confirmation and Covenant (Exodus 23-24) 44. Restriction and Freedom in Worship (Exodus 24-25) 45. Worship Is about Sacrifice […]

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