Monday 15 February 2021

Bible Book:

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. (v. 17)

Exodus 24:12-18 Monday 15 February 2021

Psalm 80


The Israelites, on their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, had Mount Sinai as their first destination, since it was from a burning bush on that mountain that God had called to Moses to lead the people out (Exodus 3:1-12). They arrived there in chapter 19, and Moses received the Ten Commandments and other laws from God on top of the mountain. In the chapter we are reading today the people have made a covenant to abide by all the words God has spoken, and then Moses with chosen elders of the people met God again to confirm or seal the agreement with a meal (v. 11).

 Now God instructs Moses alone to climb higher up the mountain in order to receive the stone tablets on which the “law and the commandment” have been written (using both sides according to Exodus 32:16). Whilst there is a strong tradition that it is specifically what we call the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) that are written down, the various biblical references are not consistent.

 Joshua accompanies Moses, asking the 70 elders to remain in the place where they had just had a special experience of God, under the leadership of Aaron and Hur. When Moses is absent for “forty days and forty nights” (v. 18), a phrase which is used to mean 'a long time', it seems that they did not remain, but instead returned to the people (32:1) who also turn to Aaron as their leader during Moses’s absence.

Cloud in Exodus is a symbol of divine guidance, communication and presence, as seen in the book’s closing verses (40:34-38). Verse 17, printed above, describes how God’s glory appeared to the people observing far below. Whilst a volcanic eruption would provide a spectacle of this kind, fire just like cloud, was already understood as a symbol of divine presence (13:21-22).


To Ponder:

  • In what way do you imagine that the meetings with God Moses enjoyed on top of the mountain differed from the encounters with God we are able to have  in our everyday world?
  • Do you find it easier to meet with God in a particular place? If so, what kind of place helps you to be aware of God’s presence?
  • Cloud and fire were symbols for Israel of God’s special presence. Is there a symbol – natural or otherwise – that helps you to be conscious of the presence of God?


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