Exodus: Week 18 Study Guide

Where does our confidence come from as believers? In part 18 of our study through Exodus, we break down Exodus 23:20–24:18 and discover how God fights for us, why it’s important to live out our relationship with Jesus in community, and how to be rooted in the truth of God’s Word.


Below, you’ll find some key discussion points to consider, questions to personally reflect on and/or discuss in your small group, with your family, or in your circle of friends, and some action points for the week. 

Memory Verse of the Week: Exodus 23:20 (NIV)

“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.”

Covenants with Idols and Ideologies

READ: Exodus 23:20–33

In this last part of chapter 23, God commands the Israelites to “demolish” their gods and “break their sacred stones to pieces.” He commands them to not “bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices.” Basically, God is reminding them to have no gods besides Him and no idols or images. But when you look at this passage, you actually see God take it beyond just ridding the land of idols and pagan practices, because it can’t end there. He also tells them, “Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. Do not let them live in your land.”

What’s He saying here? Well, the Israelites were prohibited from making any sort of treaty with the people groups that inhabited the Promised Land by which they could share the land. Now, it was customary at the time for treaties between nations to contain an acknowledgment by each of the other’s gods. So, any treaty or partnership with a nation was a sort of treaty with its gods. There was to be a zero-tolerance policy for the worship of anything or anyone but Yahweh in the Promised Land.

Note: If non-Jewish people renounced their idolatry and trusted in the Lord, they could dwell among the people. We see this with Rahab, Ruth, and others.

Why such a policy? Because God knew without it, the people would sin against Him. And even a cursory scroll through the Old Testament would show you just how true this is. It happened countless times and always had devastating effects for Israel. And it happens to us, too!

Just like Lot was compromised by living so close to (and eventually within) the walls of Sodom and Gomorrah, and just like “bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV), when we allow ourselves to be immersed in and desensitized to worldly, post-modern, post-Christian, pseudo-spiritual, self-help, woke, progressive, or anything else THAT ISN’T THE GOSPEL OF JESUS, these things become a “snare” for us—a honey trap, the irresistible bait used to lure, trap, and enslave a victim in sinful patterns and practices.

So, how are we to live in the world without being conformed to it? The answer is in Exodus 23:20–21 (NIV): “I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to what he says.” That angel bears the name of God and is the pre-incarnate Christ, God in the flesh! The best way to avoid being uprooted by idolatry and pagan ideology is to be “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith . . . overflowing with gratitude” (Colossians 2:7 HCSB).

When we fix “our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV), when we abide in Him (John 15:4) and walk in obedience, we can be certain He will go before us, guard us along the way, conquer our enemies for us, and bring us to the place He has prepared and purposed for us!

Discussion Question 1: Why is it so dangerous to “make covenants” with and dwell together with idols and pagan ideologies? How does this look in the world today?

Discussion Question 2: Are there areas where you’re allowing yourself to be open and dwelling near to sinful and wicked ideology and idolatry? 

Reading Laws and Sprinkling Blood

READ: Exodus 24:1–8

Have you ever made a pact (or covenant) with a friend? Maybe you had to take an oath in court or as part of your job—like the oaths doctors and lawyers take. If you’ve been married, you both recited your vows during the ceremony. A covenant acts as a binding agreement and statement of intention, fidelity, and devotion on the part of the involved parties.

Here in Exodus 24, we see a few things happening. First, we’re told that Moses wrote down “everything the Lord had said.” Why? So God’s Word may be preserved in a tangible way for every future generation of God’s people. You see, God’s Word, His law, His commandments, and His way for life, worship, relationships, justice, and health were of such surpassing importance that it couldn’t be left up to human recollection or the creative nature of our flawed memories. It had to be written down!

This was an “everlasting covenant” (Jeremiah 32:40), and it would need to be passed down, cited repeatedly, re-read, referenced, studied, taught, memorized, internalized, meditated on, and lived out practically. Thus, it’s clear that Israel’s verbal pact to do everything the Lord said simply wasn’t good enough.

Second, what was the purpose of the building of the altar and the 12 stone pillars? Well, the altar symbolized the presence of the Lord (one party in this covenant/pact), and the 12 pillars represented the tribes of Israel (the other party).

Third, in this pact, the burnt offerings were done for the atonement of sins and also as a sign of dedication and devotion, while the peace offerings represented man’s gratitude for the mercies received from the Lord, as well as their communion with God and one another. Here, both were offered together to demonstrate Israel’s thankfulness for being taken into covenant with the Lord and Israel’s determination to be set apart unto the Lord.

Next, Moses read the law for all the people to hear because our covenant with God is based on His words and His terms, not ours. This was followed again by an acknowledgment: “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.”

Finally, Moses took the remaining blood from the offerings and sprinkled it on the people because it represents life (Leviticus 17:11). In Exodus 24:8 (NIV, emphasis added) Moses said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” Sound familiar? They’re the same words uttered by Jesus in the upper room! He said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28 NIV).

No longer the blood of bulls and goats, but the blood of God Himself poured out for an everlasting covenant that not only covers our sins but pays the full price and removes them! Even in the establishment of the pact here between God and His people, God was showing His hand and pointing us to the greater pact that was to come in Christ!

Discussion Question 3: Why is it so important that we have the written law? What can we learn from it? What does it show us?

40 Days and 40 Nights

READ: Exodus 24:9–18

In the previous chapters, God entered into a covenant with His chosen people and the Israelites agreed to uphold their part of the covenant. For six days the cloud sits over the mountain, and on the seventh day God calls Moses to enter the cloud where he spends forty days.

These may just seem like numbers, but don’t overlook their significance. To the original audience hearing this story, the seven days echo back to the seven days of creation, God’s number of completion and wholeness. Just as God made all of creation in six days and rested on the seventh, God on the seventh day calls Moses to go deeper in intimacy with Him.

The forty days would also bring to mind the flood where Noah and his family spent forty days and nights. The people didn’t yet know of their forty years of wandering in the wilderness or that generations later, the ultimate deliverer, Jesus, would also spend forty days in the desert. In the Bible, forty days symbolize a period of preparation or testing. While God called Moses deeper in communion with Him, and gave him instructions for the people, God was also refining and testing Israel’s keeping of the covenant.

This passage teaches us several things. First, God calls us to commune with Him. God invites us to experience intimacy with Him and to go deeper into His presence, so we may know Him more intimately and fully. Just as God called Moses deep into the cloud, God invites us daily to come to Him (Matthew 11:28).

Secondly, drawing closer to God means experiencing refinement and even testing. This testing doesn’t mean God is vindictive or trying to pull one over on Israel; rather, when God tests us, His tests are often opportunities to show our faith. In Israel’s case, the absence of their leader would lend itself to a period where each person would have to live up to the covenant they had just entered into with God. For us, a new opportunity or blessing can also lend itself to test our love for God over earthly things.

Lastly, intimacy with God is not just for us, but for those whom God has called us to impact. What God revealed to Moses was not only for his own benefit, it was also to better equip him to lead Israel. Likewise, the time we spend with God is for our edification, but it doesn’t stop there. It’s for us to use so we can make a difference in the lives of those around us—from our family members to our coworkers to our neighbors. God wants what He reveals to us to overflow and transform those around us! Today, God is also inviting us to go deeper, to make Him our ultimate love, and to be a blessing to someone. How will you respond?

Discussion Question 4: What is something that keeps you from growing in your relationship with God?

Discussion Question 5: What steps can you take to surrender these roadblocks to the Lord?


Write down the names of at least five people in your life you interact with daily or weekly. How can God use you to reveal Himself to them and to bless them?


In our next study, we’ll explore Exodus 25–27 and learn about the specifications for the Tabernacle of God, the place where His presence would reside amongst the people. Discover what each key detail means and how it points to the work of Jesus!

Additional Resources

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.