************ Sermon on Exodus 24:8,11 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 9, 2005
"The Blood and Meal of the Covenant"
The covenant. We usually think of the covenant in terms of the sacrament of baptism. But this morning I want us to think of the covenant as we celebrate the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.
We all realize, I am sure, that our God is a covenanting God. He wants a relationship with what He has made. Time and again He comes to us and says, "I will be your God, and you shall be my people."
God established a covenant relationship with man at the beginning of time already. The original covenant we know as the Covenant of Works. The great promise of the Covenant of Works was eternal life – man would live in the perfection of the Garden of Eden and forever enjoy God's presence there. The condition of the Covenant of Works was obedience, perfect and complete obedience: "you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Gen 2:17). The penalty for disobedience to the Covenant of Works was physical and spiritual death (Gen 2:17; 3:23). And the sign of the Covenant of Works was the tree of life (Gen 2:9).
We all know what happened with this Covenant of Works: it was broken – not by God but by man; man fell into sin; he ate from the tree God commanded him not to eat of; as a consequence he suffered physical and spiritual death.
Did you know that the Covenant of Works is still in effect today? God still holds before us the promise of eternal life. Man still owes God perfect obedience. Our failure to keep this covenant is the reason why we all suffer physical and spiritual death. And, it is because the Covenant of Works is still in effect that the Final Judgment is a judgment of works.
The Covenant of Works is still in effect. But after the Fall no man can live up to the obedience demanded by God in this covenant. Does this mean God has abandoned the covenant relationship He has established with man and all of His creation? No, not at all! The teaching of Scripture is that even though man constantly breaks the covenant God remains faithful forever; God continues to say, "I will be your God, and you shall be my people." Except now He says this to us only in and through and because of Christ. You see, in Christ God establishes another covenant, a Covenant of Grace, with us. It is called a Covenant of Grace because it is Christ – not us – who accomplishes the perfect obedience demanded by God in the Covenant of Works. In the Covenant of Grace Christ accomplishes on our behalf the perfect obedience demanded by God.
On this Lord's Supper Sunday the Scripture reading from Exodus 24 tells us two things about the Covenant of Grace: it is established in blood and sealed with a meal.
I Established in Blood
A According to Exodus 24 the Covenant of Grace requires the shedding of blood. Moses sent young Israelite men to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice young bulls as fellowship offerings to the Lord. Half of the blood Moses sprinkled on the altar. The other half of the blood Moses sprinkled on the people and said, "This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you ..." (Ex 24:6,8).
B What does this blood of the covenant do? We can't help but notice that it does something to both sides or both partners of the covenant relationship. It is sprinkled on both the altar – representing the presence of God – and on the people. What the blood of the covenant does is establish or re-establish the covenant relationship between God and His children. Remember, man broke the covenant by His disobedience. So now the terrible wrath and anger of God is directed against all those who are covenant breakers. Within this broken covenant relationship, the blood of the covenant does two things: it pays for or covers the sins of the people and it removes or appeases the wrath of God. Because of the blood of the covenant the people's sin is no longer seen and the wrath of God is taken away. The blood of the covenant, in other words, repairs and restores the broken covenant relationship.
The blood does for the covenant relationship what the marriage ceremony does for a man and woman: it unites, brings together, and forges unbreakable bonds. By the blood the people are assured that they belong to God and with God.
C Jesus uses the words of our text in the Upper Room when He institutes the Lord's Supper. There Jesus took the cup, gave thanks, and offered it to the disciples saying,
(Mt 26:27-28) ... Drink from it, all of you. (28) This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Jesus tells us here that it is His blood, represented by the wine of the Lord's Supper which:
-establishes or re-establishes the covenant relationship between God and His people
-covers the sin of man and appeases the wrath of God
-assures us that we belong to and with God
-reminds us of God's gracious covenant promise, "I will be your God and you will be my people"
The blood of the covenant. How important, how vital, that blood is.
Topic: ChristMany lives are eternally wrecked by the "yellow gospels" we are hearing today – bloodless theories that send men to their doom. What are these "yellow gospels"? There are some who say we can save ourselves. Others say that all roads, all faiths, and all religions lead to heaven. Still others say they don't need saving because they aren't all that bad.
Subtopic: Blood of
Title: The Yellow Gospel
Quite a few years ago a terrible railroad accident occurred, killing many people. A commuter train had stalled on the tracks just a few minutes before a fast freight was due to arrive. A conductor was quickly sent to flag down the approaching "flier." Being assured that all was well, the passengers relaxed. Suddenly, however, the speeding freight came bearing down upon them. The crash left a ghastly scene of horror. The engineer of the freight train, who escaped death by jumping from the cab, was called into court to explain why he hadn't stopped. "I saw a man waving a warning flag," he said, "but it was yellow, so I thought he just wanted me to slow down." When the flag was examined, the mystery was explained. It had been red, but because of long exposure to the sun and weather it had become a dirty yellow.
The fact is, only Christ's blood of the covenant can redeem your soul. Don't be deceived by a "yellow gospel" that is powerless to save you from everlasting destruction.
The blood of the covenant. This morning we remember and we believe that Christ gave that blood so that ours can be a living relationship with the covenanting God.
II Sealed with a Meal
A In our Scripture reading we see not only that the covenant relationship is established in blood but also that it is sealed with a meal. In the Ancient World, covenants or treaties between nations and kings were usually sealed with a meal. Breaking bread together was a sign of trust, openness, and fellowship. The covenant meal ratified the covenant.
In Exodus 24 Scripture tells us that Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel had a covenant meal. "They saw God, and they ate and drank" (vs 11). These 74 men ate and drank in fellowship with God as representatives of the people.
B Scripture adds a curious note here. It tells us "God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites" (vs 11). What does this mean? We have to go elsewhere to find the answer. There was a time when Moses wanted to see God face-to-face; he wanted to see God in all His glory and splendor and majesty (Ex 33:12f). But God said to Moses, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live" (Ex 33:20; cf 19:10-13,21-24). Yet, in our Scripture reading 74 leaders of Israel are able to do exactly that – they saw God, and they ate and drank.
How come? Why is it that this time the leaders can look on God and live? Why is it that they can enjoy table fellowship with the Lord? There is only one possible reason: the blood of the covenant. The blood, which removes man's sin and appeases God's anger, enables sinful man to approach the holy God without being struck down.
That covenant meal on Sinai gave the representatives of Israel a foretaste of the glory that awaits God's people in the heavenly kingdom. For then we will all see God face-to-face. Then in the presence of God we will all participate in the marriage feast of the Lamb and His church.
C The elders of Israel gathered to seal the covenant by meeting with God and eating and drinking with Him. In the same way, at the institution of the Lord's Supper the apostles met with the Lord of the new covenant – Jesus Christ – to eat and drink with Him. In that meal they sealed the new covenant established through or in His blood.
This morning, congregation, ours is the privilege to participate in the covenant-sealing meal. Like the elders we can meet with God because the blood of the covenant enables us sinners to approach the table of the holy God. Like the elders, we too get a foretaste of the marriage supper of the Lamb and His church.
Today, my brothers and sisters, we have the privilege of participating in the Lord's Supper. As we eat and as we drink remember God's promise: I am your God and you are my people. As we eat and as we drink remember that this covenant relationship is established in blood and sealed with a meal.
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