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Exodus 24:12–18

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction’” (v. 12).

After the meal in the presence of God on Mount Sinai (Ex. 24:9–11), Moses and the other men present on that occasion apparently descended the mountain. We infer as much from today’s passage, which begins with the Lord’s telling Moses to come up to Him on the mountain to receive “the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment” that God Himself had written (v. 12).

Moses obeyed our Creator, taking with him his assistant Joshua (v. 13). The close association of Moses and Joshua here is important because it was an early indication that the Lord would eventually appoint Joshua to be the leader of Israel after the death of Moses (see Josh. 1:1–9). Because Moses knew that disputes among the Israelites might occur during his absence, he appointed Aaron and Hur to oversee the community while he was gone (Ex. 24:14). The choice of Aaron and Hur made good sense. Their support of Moses had been instrumental in Israel’s defeat of the Amalekites (17:8–16). Moreover, Aaron would be the first high priest of Israel (see 28:1), and Hur came from the tribe of Judah, from whom would finally come the rightful kings of Israel (see Gen. 49:10; Ex. 31:2; 1 Sam. 17:12; 2 Sam. 7:1–17). Moses ascended the mountain and entered the cloud of the Lord’s glory, where he would spend the next forty days and forty nights (Ex. 24:15–18).

There are two key takeaways from today’s passage. First, it again reminds us of the unique importance of the Ten Commandments. The tablets (v. 12) contained the Ten Commandments, the only portion of the law that the Lord wrote directly (see Deut. 4:13). God of course revealed all the law to Moses, using him to write it down (e.g., Ex. 24:4), but He, not Moses, inscribed the Ten Commandments on the stone tablets. This hints at the importance of these laws and suggests that they have an enduring place as a guide for God’s people in all generations. They are not like many of the other laws in the Mosaic code that are more limited to the ancient Israelite theocracy even if we can discern good principles for today from them.

Second, note that in the glory cloud, Moses received from the Lord the directions for the tabernacle, where Israel would gather corporately to worship God (chs. 25–31). The time spent in today’s passage describing in detail Moses’ entry into God’s presence calls attention to the directions to follow, suggesting their importance and that the Lord takes seriously how we worship Him.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

God’s law cannot be limited to the Ten Commandments, but they are the essential core of it. Since the Ten Commandments are the foundations of religious and ethical instruction, we will be ill-equipped to please God if we do not know them. It is a good practice to memorize these laws so that we will be ready to serve the Lord in all of life.

For Further Study
  • Exodus 34:1
  • Romans 13:8–10

The Covenant Meal

Shepherding the Lambs

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From the September 2022 Issue
Sep 2022 Issue