The Shechinah Glory Settled on Mount Sinai

24: 12-18

    DIG: How did God’s time alone with Moses prepare the way for the subsequent revelation of the construction of the Tabernacle and the formation of the priesthood?

    REFLECT: How does your time alone with the LORD prepare you for your day? Your job? Your stresses? Your relationships? Your life?

    After ratifying the covenant, ADONAI said to Moses His mediator: Come up to Me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you tablets of stone, with Torah and commands I have written for their instruction (24:12). We learn later that the LORD gave no images of Himself to bring down the mountain of God. He gave only two stone tablets (Deuteronomy 4:13), and written on them were the words of the covenant (34:28). The Oral Law was not given on Mount Sinai (see my commentary on The Life of Christ Ei - The Oral Law). Each tablet was probably complete with all Ten Commandments. We also learn that the tablets were written by the finger of God (31:18). It was common for suzerain covenants to prepare duplicate copies of the treaty, so it seems likely that the two stone tablets did not have different commands written on them, but were duplicate copies.469

    Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God (24:13). The expression, the mountain of God, refers to the place where God revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush (3:1). Joshua began to appear more frequently as God was preparing him to succeed Moses. He accompanied Moses to the foot of the mountain, where he remained until Moses came down. Consequently, he was not present when the golden calf incident occurred. When Moses was preparing to ascend the mountain with Joshua, he told the elders to wait in the camp until their return, and appointed Aaron and Hur as administrators of justice in case any disputes broke out among the people while they were gone (24:14; also see 31:2).470

    Therefore, Joshua and Moses set out to climb the mountain together. At some point, Moses left Joshua and continued up the mountain by himself. When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it and the Shechinah glory, or the visible manifestation of God Himself, settled on Mount Sinai (24:15-16a). In Genesis 15 the Shechinah glory was used to seal ADONAI's covenant with Abraham, and here in Exodus 24 it is also used to seal His covenant with Moses.

    For six days the cloud covered the mountain and Moses camped outside of it, but on the seventh day ADONAI called to Moses to enter the cloud, or Shechinah glory (24:16b). The six/seven formula reminds us of the creation account. The number seven is the climax of the Jewish calendar. Here the climax occurs on the seventh day when Moses entered the cloud. To the Israelites the Shechinah glory of ADONAI looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain (Exodus 24:17; also see Deuteronomy 4:24 and Hebrews 12:29). The Shechinah glory was also visible to the people who had settled in the valley at the foot of Mount Sinai.

    Then for the second time, Moses entered the cloud alone as he went up on the mountain. And he stayed alone on the mountain for forty days and forty nights to receive further instructions from God (24:18). We learn later that Moses ate no bread and drank no water for forty days (Deuteronomy 9:9). The length of time Moses spent in the cloud of the Shechinah glory is confirmed by other passages (Exodus 34:28 Deuteronomy 9:9, 11, 18, 10:10). The dual purpose of this long time of fellowship was to receive the tablets of stone and to be given the instructions for building the Tabernacle. The number forty is often used to symbolize a period of trial, testing, or purification (Genesis 50:3; Deuteronomy 7:2; First Kings 19:8; Exodus 16:35; Matthew 4:2).

    When we look back it is easy to see how critical the Shechinah glory was to the ministry of Moses. The Shechinah glory called Moses to his ministry (3:1-10), led Isra'el in the wilderness (13:20-22), protected Isra'el from the Egyptians (14:19-20a), destroyed the Egyptians in the Sea of Reeds (14:24-27), provided the manna and the quail for the people (16:1-8), sealed ADONAI's covenant with Moses, and here, enabled God's prophet to receive the Ten Commandments and directions to build the Tabernacle. Wow!

    The believer has an equally glorious opportunity in this age for we are able to come into the very presence of God in the Most Holy Place because of the blood of Yeshua Messiah. Brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19). We no longer have to wait at the bottom of the mountain to hear from the LORD. Our responsibility is now to pray, read, listen for His voice and obey.471


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