Eating in the Presence of God

In Exodus 24, we see the ratification of the covenant between God and Israel. In chapter 19, the people had agreed to submit to what the Lord commanded. In chapter 20, God gave the Ten Commandments, the basic terms of the agreement between himself and Israel. Then, from 20-23, God gave a set of laws that are examples of how Israel would obey his commands.


By chapter 24, the people were again willing to affirm, now for the third time, that they want to be God’s people, under his rule and protection, and they want God to be their God. And so the nation takes part in the covenant ceremony. Animals are sacrificed. Sacred elements are sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice. Even the people have the blood placed on them, the blood of the covenant.


Then look at what happens next:


Exodus 24:8-11 – 8 And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” 9 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 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. 11 And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.


As was common in those days, the confirming sacrifice of the covenant ceremony is followed up by a meal between the two parties entering into the agreement. This time, the meal is stunning. Representative leaders from Israel climb up Mount Sinai to eat a meal in the presence of God. Here these leaders have some form of a glimpse of the glory of the Lord, they dine in his presence, and they live. That is amazing, since to see God in his holiness would, under most circumstances, lead to their death—God is holy and men are sinful after all.


This passage is fascinating, but if we only stop there, we miss something very important to our Christian lives. This passage is fascinating, and it reminds us of something. This reminds us of the night of Jesus’ betrayal and the institution of the Lord’s Supper.


Think about it. Jesus sat with his disciples. He declared to them that a New Covenant was being made, as Jesus would pour out his own blood for the forgiveness of our sins. When Jesus held up the cup, he called it the blood of the covenant. And this was all done in the context of a shared meal. The disciples ate a meal in the presence of God the Son as they looked to the institution of the New Covenant.


And that is not fascinating enough. Jesus commanded that this ceremony be repeated in the life of the church. For some it is week-to-week. For some it is monthly, quarterly, or some other time interval. But, on a regular basis, Christians gather together for worship and they remember the New Covenant in the blood of Jesus. Not only do we remember, we eat and drink in commemoration. And we do so together, as the body of Christ, in the presence of the Lord. WE share a covenant meal in the spiritual presence of God, and we look forward to a meal that we will physically share with the Lamb of God at the great marriage feast upon his return.


Christians, let this stir your heart to love and treasure Lord’s Supper. This meal is not a magical ceremony. It does not infuse you with more grace. The elements remain bread and wine. It is commemorative.


At the same time, the spiritual life and blessing of this meal is more than a memory. Something sacred is going on, something mysterious, something glorious. People who are redeemed by Christ, under his covenant grace, are united in remembering his death on their behalf as they look forward to his return. And The Holy Spirit of god, the Spirit of Jesus, is with us at that moment. This is not just an empty ceremony of memory alone. It is dining together in the presence of God as we fellowship together. It is longing for his return. It is looking forward to an eternity beyond this sin-filled life. It is a glorious time of refreshing the soul. And it is certainly to be a major highlight of the Christian’s worship.