Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.
When this encounter took place God had spoken the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20.1, and sundry other laws relating to the organisation and conduct of his people. He then called Moses and Aaron with Nadab and Abihu together with 70 elders of the people to come up to him on Mount Sinai to worship. Of this group only Moses was to come near, but as our verses for today make clear (or is it clear?) they saw God.
Before they actually went up the people had affirmed ‘all the words that the LORD has spoken we will do’ and Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord (v.3b-4). He then built an altar, sacrificed and read the Book of the Covenant in the hearing of the people and again they declared ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do’ and the covenant was sealed with blood (v.10).
Then the designated group went up and saw the God of Israel and were unscathed!
How should we understand this in the light of chapter 33.20 “man shall not see me and live”, and John 1.18 “No one has ever seen God”?
Further what does it mean for our relationship with God with the promise of Matthew 5.8 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God’ and Revelation 22.4 ‘They will see his face and his name will be on their foreheads’?
The answer is Jesus.
But let’s unpack that very simple and yet profound statement.
What did the party on Sinai actually see? We cannot be sure but it was perhaps a partial vision the description of which left them lost for words so it was described in the best way they could as ‘something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli (or Sapphire), as bright blue as the sky.’
(Compare the description of the heavenly throne and the one who sat on it in Revelation 4 which we will be considering in more detail starting next week.)
We are told in Exodus 33.11 that ‘The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend’ and this was a unique relationship not enjoyed by any other Israelite, but even Moses could not look on God’s glory see 33.18-23.
As we consider Jesus who is fully God, reflect again on these so well known words
‘The word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth……… and from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, the only God, who is at the fathers side he has made him known.’ John 1.14-18
How blessed we are! Thank God for Jesus this day who has enabled us to see God.