Sunday, November 01, 2015

Seventy-Four Of Them Saw Evidence of “God’s Appearance”


Exodus 24:9-12: Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they beheld God, and they ate and drank.
After the people had ratified the Covenant between God and them, seventy-four of them went up part way to the mountain and the text says, “they saw the God of Israel”.  To explain this we turn to commentator Chuck Smith who, on this verse, writes,
Now you say, "Wait a minute. What do you mean they saw God?" Because in the gospel of John, John declares, "No man hath seen God at any time, but the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath manifested Him"(John 1:18). What does it mean then, "They saw God"? I don't know, but I have to compare scripture with scripture, and the fact that we read "no man hath seen God at any time but the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." The scripture also declares that you cannot see God and live.

I must assume that when it declares, "and they saw the God of Israel and this crystal sea", that they saw Him perhaps in a vision form, as Isaiah and as Ezekiel, and as others saw God, in a vision form, but did not actually see God Himself, which is impossible for man to do. "No man has seen God at any time."
To support that thinking, I would also rely on the phrase, “there appeared to be”, an indication perhaps that they weren’t actually seeing what they thought they were seeing but only the ‘appearance’ of it.  David Guzik says the following:

It is difficult to say exactly what they saw. Most likely they saw a heavenly vision of God, after the pattern of Isaiah (Isaiah 6) or Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1).  The blue of the sapphire may suggest that the elders saw the sea of glass before the throne of God (Revelation 4:6).

Matthew Henry gives us the most details, including on the reference to the pavement of sapphire,
That is, they had some glimpse of his glory, in light and fire, though they saw no manner of similitude, and his being no man hath seen nor can see, 1 Tim. 6:16. They saw the place where the God of Israel stood (so the Septuagint), something that came near a similitude, but was not; whatever they saw, it was certainly something of which no image nor picture could be made, and yet enough to satisfy them that God was with them of a truth. Nothing is described but that which was under his feet; for our conceptions of God are all below him, and fall infinitely short of being adequate. They saw not so much as God's feet; but at the bottom of the brightness, and as the footstool or pedestal of it, they saw a most rich and splendid pavement, such as they never saw before nor after, as it had been of sapphires, azure or sky-colored. The heavens themselves are the pavement of God's palace, and his throne is above the firmament. See how much better wisdom is than the precious onyx or the sapphires, for wisdom was from eternity God's delight (Prov. 8:30), and lay in his bosom, but the sapphires are the pavement under his feet; there let us put all the wealth of this world, and not in our hearts.
Nadab and Abihu were Aaron’s oldest sons. The text says that God did not touch His visitors. David Guzik suggests, “This indicates that as glorious as this experience was, there was something missing or incomplete in the encounter. This was not a "face-to-face" encounter with God. These elders of Israel could see God, but there was no fellowship or communication between them and God. God allowed the elders of Israel to see such a spectacular vision to impress on them the reality of God's presence. After this experience they would be more likely to trust God when He spoke through Moses.
My reading of the statement puts emphasis on the word against and I am led to believe that while the author may have felt that God could have been upset with them for seeing as much of Him as they did, God actually was not.  Instead He allowed them to eat and drink there. What a glorious picture of God the Father this is.  Just when we think we might be chastised for our actions, God holds back His Hand against us and we are allowed to eat and drink in His presence.
So where are you today? When it comes to being in God’s presence, are you hiding behind some curtain? Are you staying way back down the mountain? Or are you at His feet, knowing perhaps what you deserve, but being ever so grateful of His grace towards you, and thus freely eating and drinking in His presence?
Get out from behind the curtain.  Go to Him confessing your wrongdoing. He will not strike His hand against you, but will let you, as a forgiven sinner and redeemed child of His, remain in His presence -- the place that cannot be surpassed for peace and safety and joy.
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