Understanding, now, that the angel of 23:20 is God Himself, we can see a little more clearly what He is saying in the closing verses of this chapter. He had just finished giving a series of regulations to be followed to the people. And then, through Moses, He makes the following points: 1. I will guard you. 2. I have prepared a place for you. 3. Pay attention and listen to me. 4. Rebellion now will not be forgiven. 5. If you obey me, I will fight for you and wipe out your enemies. 6. Do not adopt the idolatry or practices of the people whose land I am giving you. Demolish them and their ways and altars. 7. Worship me and I will bless your food and water. 8. Worship me and I will take away sickness from among you. 9. Worship me and you will have no miscarriages or barrenness. 10. Worship me and you will not die prematurely. He then states that He will “send my terror ahead of you” to throw into confusion all of those nations so they will “turn their backs and run.” He refers to this terror as ‘the hornet.’ This word is used only three or four times in the Bible and each time it refers to something God does to ‘sting’ people. I can only assume there is an idiom involved here, but I am not sure how to find out exactly what it is. Regardless, however, the picture is clear: those nations which oppose Israel are not going to like what is going to happen, and they are going to run from it. Because God says he will not drive the nations out in a single year, but bit by bit, we can eliminate a sudden natural catastrophe as being ‘the hornet.’ Something else is going on. Perhaps it is just the sudden advent of both fear and guilt into their lives in the face of a people who are intent on following God. God then tells the Israelites the extent of the land they will eventually occupy: from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates. And God warns again, Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. Do not let them live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you. As many times as God as said this and similar, it is easy to see He is very serious about this. As chapter 24 opens, God then is speaking directly to Moses, telling him to come up onto the mountain. The people may not approach, but Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu (Aaron’s two oldest sons – watch what happens to them later…), along with seventy elders are to join Moses in worship “at a distance”, first. Moses then tells the people what God has said. Their reaction? Everything the Lord has said we will do. It sounds good. Little do they know what lies ahead. And we then read, Moses then wrote down everything the Lord had said. This is very important to remember. These are written records we are reading, not ‘oral tradition.’ Please note that the rules for offerings have not yet been given by the Lord. And yet they were already known. Look at verse 5 of chapter 24: Then he sent young Israelite men, and theyoffered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the Lord. Moses then takes the blood of the offering and sprinkles some on the altar he has built. This is the sign of a Covenant – a blood promise; a promise involving life and death. The people have said they agree to the Covenant by proclaiming they will do everything the Lord has said. As Moses then reads the words of God back to them from what he has written, the people proclaim again, ”We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.” Blood of the sacrifice is then sprinkled on the people. This means they will die if they do not obey. We then have a brief mention of what must have been a startling sight. When the elders, Aaron and his sons, and Moses go to the mountain to worship, they SEE the God of Israel. This is no volcanic apparition, for there was some kind of clear, blue “like pavement” under His feet. The men are not struck down, but instead ‘eat and drink’ in His presence. This is probably a ceremonial eating and drinking and not a ‘come as you are’ dinner party, though! One point should be made about God not striking them down when they saw Him. That is the common interpretation of this verse (verse 11). But it may not be correct. The word translated ‘leaders’ (He did not strike down these leaders…) is used only this once in the entire Bible. It is not the normal word for leaders. The King James translates the word as ‘nobles.’ The Hebrew word comes from a primary root meaning to separate, and can also refer to an extremity. So the translators have all assumed this meant those who were separated out at this point to worship God: Moses, Aaron and his sons, and the elders. And while this may be entirely correct, it is wise to know that this word is not the normal word for leaders or nobles, but something else. The Lord then calls for Moses to come up on the mountain. Moses takes his aide, Joshua, and obeys. He tells the elders to wait for them here, where they are, where they saw the Lord and ate and drank. In order to understand what is going to happen next, it is very important to note the closing verses of chapter 24. What Moses writes in Exodus 24 is that WHEN he went up on the mountain, a cloud covered it, ”and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai.” Moses stays for six days, hearing nothing from God. On the seventh day, God calls to Moses from within the cloud. Now, NOTE VERSE 17: TO THE ISRAELITES THE GLORY OF THE LORD LOOKED LIKE A CONSUMING FIRE ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN. Moses enters this cloud, this Shekinah glory cloud of God’s, and stays for forty days and nights. To the people it looked, possibly, volcanic. At the very least deadly. Moses was there for over a month. What would YOU have thought happened to him? Chapters 25-31 of Exodus have to do with what God told Moses on the mountain. But chapter 32 is going to start, When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain…..