The Old Testament Lesson for Maundy Thursday is written in the second book of the Torah, Exodus. The text appointed for this special Holy Week service is Exodus 24:3-11 and is the strange account of Moses and 70 elders—along with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu (perhaps Joshua)—being called up Mount of Sinai to eat in the presence of God. The language used indicates this is the full manifestation of God, not simply the pre-incarnated Christ. However, the question is, “How can this be?” Sinful man cannot look upon the face of God and live, and yet, here are these men doing just that and not dying. This account is one of the places where God breaks His own rule. We have observed this with Moses as well when God shows him His backside. It is important to remember two things in this regard. First, God is the One who makes the rule, and therefore, He can opt to break it—man does not have that right or luxury. Second, whenever God does break one of His rules in the Scriptures it is always on the side of grace. Therefore, we need not fear that one day God will wake up and destroy us, hate us or abandon us because He decides to break one of His rules.

It is interesting to note how this text is chosen for Maundy Thursday and involves eating and drinking with God—in His presence, real presence. This is only possible with the shedding of blood. We see this in the Passover as the blood of the lamb averts the wrath of God and the Angel of Death passes over those houses. In this text the blood of the sacrifice (verses 6-8) averts the wrath of God and He allows the eating and drinking in His presence. In the LORD’s Supper, it is the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away our sin—death passes over us and God is no longer wrathful toward us. Indeed, all His wrath has been absorbed by His Son. There is much beautiful imagery in this text as well as a strong message of “real presence” in the eating and drinking.

24:3 וַיְסַפֵּר: (Vay-sap-Per) root: ספר (saw-far) Piel: “to speak; to recount; to tell”

נַעֲשֶׂה: (na-a-Seh) root: עשׂה (aw-saw) Qal: “to do; to carry out; to follow”

24:4 וַיִּכְתֹּב: (vai-yich-To) root: כתב (kaw-thab) Piel: “to write; to write down; to record”

וַיַּשְׁכֵּם: (vai-yash-Kem) root: שׁכם (shaw-kam) Hiphil: “to get up early; to rise early (in the morning)”

מִזְבֵּחַ; (miz-Be-ach) “memorial stone; pillar; sacred stone”

24:5 וַיִּשְׁלַח (vai-yishLach) root: שׁלח (shaw-lakh) Qal: “to send; to send out; to stretch out”

שְׁלָמִים (she-la-Mim) “peace offering; salvation offering”

24:6 וַיִּקַּח: (vai-yik-Kach) root: לקח (law-kakh) Qal: “to take”

בָּאַגָּנֹת (ba-ag-ga-Not) “a large bowl; basin (deep)”

זָרַק (za-Rak) Qal: “to sprinkle; to throw”

24:7 נַעֲשֶׂה וְנִשְׁמָע: (na-a-She ve-nih-Ma) “we will do and we will keep”

24:8 Note how the blood is used as a reminder and, therefore, a connection with the Covenant.

24:9-10 וַיִּרְאוּ: (Vai-yir-U) root: רְאה (raw-aw) Qal: “to see”

לִבְנַת (liv-Nat) “tile; pavement; flagstone”

הַסַּפִּיר; (has-sap-Pir) “sapphire”

לָטֹהַר (la-To-har) “purity; clearness”

24:11 אֲצִילֵי] (a-tzi-Lei) from: אציל (aw-tseel) “chief; noble”

וַיֶּחֱזוּ: (vai-ye-che-Zu) root: חזה (khaw-zaw) Qal: “to behold; to see; to look upon”

וַיֹּאכְלוּ, וַיִּשְׁתּוּ: (vai-yo-che-Lu vai-yish-Tu) “and they ate and they drank”