Eating & Drinking With God
"Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
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." (Ex 24:8–11).
Can you imagine?
Can you imagine going to a meal with God?
This little passage has always blown me away. It's tantalisingly short, and yet so full!
What would it have been like, to be there? To stand on that mountain and see some manifestation of God?
How could you even bring yourself to eat in awesome and overpowering presence of the Lord?
We know that no mere human has ever seen God in his essence and fullness (John 1:18). Even Moses, the "God-seer," who would converse with God like a friend (Ex 33:11), only saw the "back" of God's glory (Ex 33:23). In fact no one may see God's face and live! Even without God's face, the prospect of dying at the sight of God was clearly in view, because the passage mentions "God did not raise his hand against [them]..." Amazingly these mere men were able to see something of God, at least his feet, and live!
And not only live, but share a meal in the presence of the Lord!
Yet do you notice what came immediately before this amazing experience? The people of Israel entered into a covenant with God.
God rescued these folks out of Egypt, and then he entered into a gracious agreement with them to care and protect them. They were joined to God in a special relationship and then they were allowed to come into His presence. They had obligations in this relationship, but it is worth seeing just how lopsided the covenant was - God did all the hard work! It was built on God's mercy.
It is on the basis of God's love and mercy that people can come into his presence. He rescues them, and joins them to himself.
This scene on Saini, seeing God and eating in his presence, looks forward to the work of Jesus Christ. Because of the New Covenant that Jesus made with his own blood, we can "approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Heb 4:16).
While we are even now united with God, and free to come into his presence figuratively, the day is fast approaching when we will no longer be physically separated: "Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death" (Re 21:3–4). Like Israel dwelt with God in their midst, like the 70 elders ate before the Lord, those in Christ shall live with God, but now with no threat of death.
The LORD has has in store a future day of feasting on a mountain top, when death is finally destroyed. I long for that day.
"On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The LORD has spoken." (Is 25:6–8).