September 17, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Now He said to Moses, ‘Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar. And Moses alone shall come near the Lord, but they shall not come near; nor shall the people go up with him.’ So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words which the Lord has said we will do.’”—Exodus 24:1–3 (NKJV)
The chapters leading up to this point provide specific detail about the various laws God assigned to Israel. Chapter 19 begins with the proposal and acceptance of these laws, including the Ten Commandments. Now, in Chapter 24, we see the Mosaic (or Sinaitic) Covenant officially ratified. As we read above, this covenant began by giving a distinct group of men an invitation to “come up.”
Yet, it was a limited invitation essentially saying, “Yes, come up (but only some of you). Yes, worship Me (but only from afar). Moses, you are set apart (only you come near).” Was God being insensitive with such limitations? Unloving? Aloof? Not at all. He wouldn’t have had the people there if He was any of those things. However, God, by His very nature, is holy—and that holiness necessitated a physical distance be placed between Himself and the people because of their sin nature.
Contrast this event with the invitation we have now to come and worship our Lord. The late, great minister and evangelist J. Vernon McGee wrote, “How different things were under the law than they are under grace.”
How different, indeed. From the cross until now, there’s a bridge of grace that only the blood of Jesus could build. Only His blood is sufficient to atone for every unholy thought and sinful deed of mankind. Jesus revolutionized the way people could have fellowship with God in a way they had never experienced before. At Calvary, the love of God collided with the sins of mankind; a new covenant was created; an invitation to the world was established. In that place, He took our place. Now, all who believe in Him can draw near; they can humbly and confidently come into solemn communion with God (James 4:8; Hebrews 4:16). We can worship Him not from afar, but from where we are with the blessed assurance that those “who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13 NKJV).
If you believe in Jesus, you share in this invitation. Just like the men in today’s verse, you’ve been brought near. In the latter part of his life, Billy Graham shared his thoughts on the three ways Jesus invites us to join His mission: First, there is the invitation to rest (Matthew 11:28); then to discipleship (Mark 1:17); and, ultimately, to live in the realm of God (John 15:4).
If you live in a state of constant weariness and unrest, Jesus invites you to come to Him. Along with that invitation, He will teach you and equip you to tell others about who He is and how the cross is the gateway through which they can experience peace with God.
Finally, as you hold fast to this faith and allow Jesus more control over your life, you’ll find that everything you need is found in Jesus. It’s an invitation to not just come up, but to be identified in Christ.
Pause: What do believers under the new covenant experience that people in the Old Testament did not?
Practice: Do you take full advantage of this grace and invitation to draw closer to God? Read Psalm 91 and think about how special those words of God are for you.
Pray: Thank You Jesus, because of You, I can go to the Father—I can worship from my shower, in my car, or in the most silent place of my home. Lord, I ask You to meet me in those places and impress upon me the joy of my salvation. Amen.
Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.