Last Sunday after Epiphany
Exodus 24:12-18 – The Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.’ So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. To the elders he had said, ‘Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.’ Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and nights.
Summary – In this passage in Exodus, we read of Moses going to the mountain of God to receive the Ten Commandments in tablets of stone. Moses had already spoken these commandments to people (ch. 20) and explained their application (ch. 20ff). Moses is now called into God’s presence to receive the actual tablets of stone for the instruction of the Israelites (v12). It is in this context that God reveals His plans for the tabernacle (Ex. 25:9), the place for the Israelites to worship and draw near to Yahweh. As the last verse in this passage explains Moses was on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights.
Insight – This is one of those extraordinary events which form the foundation of Israelite life. Moses receives direct revelation from God about two primary pillars: the Law and the Tabernacle. This Sunday in the Church Year is sometimes referred to as Transfiguration Sunday, because the readings are about Christ’s transfiguration on the mountain (e.g., Note the Epistle, 2 Peter 1:16ff and Matthew 17). The connection is going to the top of the mountain meet God. As is indicated in the beginning of the passage, the tablets of God as well as the tabernacle of God were for the instruction of the Israelites. Both of these pointed to something beyond themselves. Ultimately they pointed to Christ the “end of the law for righteousness” (Rom. 10:4) and the true Tabernacle who has come among us (John 1:14). Another connection is the 40 day theme which is very fitting as we approach the lenten season, remembering Christ’s wilderness fasting and temptations.
Catechism – How long did Moses stay on the mountain with God? 40 days and 40 nights.
Discussion – What are some other 40 day periods in the Bible? Which one do you think is the most significant?
Prayer – Lord our God, we thank you for revealing to us your word in the law of God and your purpose for drawing near to us in the tabernacle. We thank you that now we worship in spirit and truth as we approach You through the blood of Jesus Christ our Savior. Grant that we may ever be faithful to obey your word and draw near in your presence, in Christ’s name, Amen.