Covenant and Communion
Tension: What must be done so that Moses and the others can experience the vision of God on the mountain?
Resolution: A blood covenant must be made by the God who is atonement because Israel can never keep their commitment to the covenant themselves.
Exegetical Idea: In order for Moses and the others to experience the vision of God on the mountain, a blood covenant must be made between Israel, who will never keep their commitment to the covenant, and God who must show himself to be atonement.
Theological Idea: God’s blood covenant with us in Christ gives us the privilege of communion with him.
Homiletical Idea: I can only communion with Christ because he has covenanted with and for me.
Big Idea: Because Christ has covenanted with God for me, I can have communion through him.
Exposition: Background of the Law
Ex 19:4-6a, 8
Introduction: Probably the most important question any of us will ever ask or answer is how can I have a relationship with God?
Inciting Incident: (Ex 24:1-2 ): God invites Moses, Aaron and his sons, seventy of the elders to come up to the Lord.
These people represent Israel. In inviting them to commune with him, all of Israel is invited to communion with him from afar.
Most of them will worship from afar, this is because of their sinfulness.
Moses only will come into his presence; Moses is the mediator between Israel and Yahweh
The Covenant Ceremony (Ex 24:3-8)
But something must be done: Before Israel and Yahweh can have communion with one another, they must form a covenant.
Moses reports the words
They agree to keep the covenant (vs. 3; Ex 19:8)
Moses wrote down God’s Word. God’s Word provides the basis for the covenant. (vs. 4)
Offered offerings on the altar: signalling past forgiveness of sins (vs. 5)
In a covenant ceremony, each party would take the blood on themselves and this was to represent each party saying, “If I don’t keep my end of the covenant, let my blood be spilt.” (vs. 6)
Then how will God take a blood covenant with his people? Because God has already said he does not allow idols. So however God takes the blood on himself is what the people of Israel will think of him.
Took half of the blood in the altar. God chooses to represent himself to Israel as the God who is himself atonement. (vs. 6) You see, before Israel ever takes the blood on themselves, God represents himself as the God who will forgive.
Moses threw the blood on the people. They vouch themselves to obey.
One altar, with twelve pillars around the altar. Twelve tribes representing the people of Israel (vs. 4) This pattern is repeated in the Ephod (Ex 28:15-30) and the pattern of the camp of Israel (Num 2).
The covenant between Yahweh is based on these two things: That Israel will obey and that God will forgive. Yet in this, it is evidently imperfect. The imperfection of the Old Covenant is that sacrifices must be made repeatedly. That sins must be repeatedly. And Israel themselves will never obey.
This is why the New Covenant we have with Christ is so much better.
Christ offers a sacrifice once-for-all: (Hebrews 9:26) which the altar never could
Christ offered up his own, perfect obedience (Hebrews 5:8-9), which Israel never could
Christ bore the penalty for our sins once for all (Hebrews 9:27-28), which Israel never could.
That God has drawn near through Jesus Christ to tabernacle among them (John 1:29).
What we see then is that we have a better covenant with Christ than Israel.
Communion with Yahweh
Because Israel had made a covenant with Yahweh, Israel is invited to commune him.
They are allowed to actually see God. (Ex 24:9-11)
But how can man see God and live (Ex 33:20)?
They only see God from afar (Ex 24:2)
They eat and drink in God’s presence: Only people who are at peace can eat and drink together. (24:11)
Moses ascends to the mountain to receive the Law. (Ex 24:12)
He leaves the elders there so they can govern until Moses returns (Ex 24:13-14)
Picture of the Church; Elders guarding over the church until Christ returns (1 Pet 5:1-4)
Moses goes up to the mountain
What is “the glory”?
Repeated imagery of Smoke and fire (Ex 3-4; 13:17-22). The glory is Christ. It is a preincarnate vision of Christ as smoke and fire.
Moses himself enters into the vision to commune with Christ.
Moses could only enter into God’s presence because of the covenant which secured his forgiveness.
Now, if the covenant that we have with God is greater than Israel, so is the communion.
Galatians 2:20, 4:19
Philippians 1:21, 3:8-11
Application: Our covenant in Christ gives us Communion with Christ and our Communion with Christ is only accomplished by our covenant with Christ. The whole Christian life needs to be thought of with these two things in mind. In this passage we see that the Covenant Christ makes for us paves way to our communion with Christ. And by the same token our communion with Christ can only happen by our covenant with him.
We need to know that the purpose of our forgiveness is to introduce us to communion with Christ.
We do not need any cheap grace. Salvation is not about forgiving you of your sins so that you can have a get-out-of-jail free card. It’s not a technicality. No, forgiveness before God is meant to bring you into joyful, eternal communion with him.
God does not want our joyless works if they are not done in relationship with him. Our good works are meant to be achieved only in relationship with him.
We also need to recognize that the only way we can have a relationship with God is if we have a covenant with him, only by the forgiveness of our sins.
Often you hear people say, “Well, I’m spiritual, and I’m committed to having a relationship with God, but I don’t worry about the specifics. ALl the blood and guts, the gritty and the knitty, the smoke and fire stuff, I don’t need it. There could never ever be anything said that is less Christian. Because the only way that you can have a relationship with God is through Christ. His body and his blood paves the road and washes the way.
When we read our Bible, when we pray, when we come to church, all of those things are to be done with the greatest gravity, because those are things that were purchased for us by the blood of Jesus Christ. We pray In the name of Jesus. We read the Bible because it tells us about Jesus. We gather, because Jesus has broken down the wall of hostility between us. These are not trite playthings. These are things of the greatest magnitude.
Conclusion: Conversation with Cindy