Unique Encounter with God

Arctic sunsets aren't too bad! Taken with Google Pixel :)

Meeting the God of the Bible

In my quiet times with the Lord, I've been reading through the Law/Pentateuch. My eyes have been especially focusing on how God revealed Himself to His people. There are many really fascinating accounts of how God meets with people and what their responses are.

One unique case I found was in Exodus 24. This account takes place while Israel is in the wilderness of Sinai, soon after God rescues them from Egypt. During their stay at Sinai, God meets with Moses on several occasions as He sets the stage for His chosen people.

In chapter 19, God declares His intentions for Israel in verses 4-6a: "You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be My treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." If you want to know what this kingdom was designed to look like, that's what Leviticus is all about. We'll get there in future posts.

God tells Moses to establish His covenant with the people by giving the Ten Commandments and laws for them to obey. After these opening instructions, God chooses to reveal Himself in a special way to Moses, Aaron & his oldest sons Nadab and Abihu (track these sons through Leviticus and Numbers for an interesting study), and 70 elders of Israel. This revelation is intended to confirm this covenant with Israel. To show there really is a God behind what Moses is sharing.

Only Moses is allowed to come near to the Lord; the others are to "worship from afar" (Exodus 24:1). In verses 10-11 we read this encounter with the God of Israel: "and they saw the God of Israel. There was under His feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And He did not lay His hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank."

Pretty strange words; not what you typically hear about on Sunday morning. The description of God's "feet" and where He "stood" seems to imply a somewhat physical but not quite human-like figure. God didn't lay His hand on them? Is this good or bad? Most likely a gracious thing - who could bear such an act of a holy God? They "beheld" Him, and their response was what? Eating and drinking? I guess this appearance was enough to celebrate! They've been rescued from Egypt, and now belong to such a magnificent God! Interesting there's not the common response of falling to the ground in holy reverence.

So many interesting questions as I tried to visualize this event. This is, after all, the first time God revealed Himself to the Israelites in some form other than a pillar of cloud and fire (angel of the Lord). I was unable to find much commentary of this encounter. But I found it fascinating, as we should with all encounters with the Living God. How do you picture Him? How do you respond to His Glory? Do you view Him as He intends us to?

Interesting how God begins revealing Himself/His Glory to the people during this phase; only at the most critical moments does He show glimpses of Himself. And there's always a proper standard of holiness and worship required - lest they die as Nadab and Abihu discovered in Leviticus. I'm so thankful for how Christ fully covered that standard for us, once for all time (Hebrews 9:24-28)! We can come to worship Him with confidence (Hebrews 10:19-25).

Let me know what you think about this encounter in the comments below!