The Bible tells us something about God that we sometimes forget, He desires to be in fellowship with us … in friendship and relationship. In an unlikely place to find this teaching, hidden away in a corner of Exodus is a paragraph that I find fascinating. God had given Moses the Ten Commands and followed with instructions on living the kind of life that reflects God’s holiness. Then he sent Moses to give those instructions to Israel. A covenant is established with sacrifices and the people agree to follow God’s teachings. And then God brings the leaders of Israel up the mountain closer …
Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. God did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; also they beheld God, and they ate and drank. ~ Exodus 24:9-11
I can’t really imagine how beautiful this setting must have been. Israel came out of Egypt following pillars of cloud and fire … but now God brings the leaders up close for a meal together. He revealed himself to them in what seems to me to be a royal image of stunning beauty.
Sapphires were to be a part of the High Priest’s breastplate (Exodus 28, 39). Job said that in God’s place of wisdom the stones are sapphires (Job 28). God’s covenant of peace with Israel would be laid on foundations of sapphire (Isaiah 54). Ezekiel saw the throne of God made of sapphire (Ezekiel 1). John’s vision of the New Jersusalem continues to see sapphire as worthy of representing God’s presence and power:
The wall is built of jasper, while the city is pure gold, clear as glass. The foundations of the wall of the city are adorned with every jewel; the first was jasper, the second sapphire… -Revelation 21:18, 19
What a privilege to eat and drink with God! To think that God lowered himself to appear to men and to fellowship with them, yet He retains his majestic separation from the lowliness of man. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the kind of fellowship God longs to have with His creation. One would think that these men would be forever entranced by the glory of God and be great leaders among His people.
But it was Aaron who would very soon make the golden calf and blame it on Israel. Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, would lose their lives when they performed their priestly duties in a drunken stupor. Moses would strike a rock and assume a role only God should have and would lose his chance to enter the Promised Land.
Before we are too critical, let’s look in the mirror. We have the testimony of Scripture to tell us all about the history of God’s covenant and the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Revivalist Leonard Ravenhill reminds us that Sodom had no Bible to tell them which way to go. What’s our excuse?
When you respond in faith to the gospel message, Jesus has washed and cleansed you of your sin. He promises that if you will open the door He will enter and fellowship with you.
Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. – Revelation 3:20