In Exodus 23:20-24:18, God reaffirms His covenant with His people on the mountain. Just like in any covenant, there are obligations of both parties. The people are obligated to do two things:
- Listen to, obey, and not rebel against the Lord’s representative, in this case the angel who is going to lead them (Exodus 23:21-22), and
- Not bow to the idols or the ways of the various cultures they are going to encounter. (Exodus 23:24, 32-33)
God, in return, outlines His commitment to His people in 10 “I will” statements:
- “I (will) send an angel before you.” (Exodus 23:20)
- “I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.” (Exodus 23:22)
- “I will take sickness away from you.” (Exodus 23:25)
- “I will fulfill the number of your days.” (Exodus 23:26)
- “I will send my terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come.” (Exodus 23:27)
- “I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.” (Exodus 23:27)
- “I will send hornets before you.” (Exodus 23:28)
- “Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land.” (Exodus 23:30) By the way, I just have to comment quickly on the fact that God specifically says that he is not going to wipe out all of Israel’s enemies at one time, but rather “little by little.” We always tend to get frustrated when God doesn’t act on our timetable, but God knows best and we are to trust Him. He even explains in this passage that the reason that He would not drive out all their enemies at one time is because that would lead to wild animal predators occupying the land – which would even be worse for Israel.
- “I will set your border from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates…” (Exodus 23:31)
- “…I will give the inhabitants of the land into your hand…” (Exodus 23:31)
Sounds a little one-sided, doesn’t it? God says, “If you will simply obey and follow Me, and refrain from serving other gods, I will take complete care of you.” But, in the end, God is going to have to even take care of man’s obedience issue through a mediator, Jesus Christ. And that Mediator between God and man is hinted at in this passage as well.
Notice that there are two mediators in this passage. The angel is God’s representative to lead His people in the defeat of their enemies. (Exodus 23:20-33) Moses is God’s mediator to meet with Him on the mountain and grant His people access to God, while they had to “worship from afar”. (Exodus 24:1-2) Moses went alone up into the cloud of God’s glory, described as a “devouring fire,” for six days. (Exodus 24:15-18) Now, check out Matthew 17:1-5. In this passage, the glory of God again is revealed from a cloud on a high mountain. This Scripture tells us:
“after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Matthew 17:1-5)
Scripture tells us that Jesus came to both destroy our enemies and to grant us access to God!
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:13-18)
Christ lived the perfect life of obedience which we were unable to live, died the death that is the just penalty for our sin, and then conquered death and the grave through His resurrection so that all who trust in Him could have unlimited access to the presence and power of God.