Theology Of Worship In Exodus 24 -- By: John W. Hilber

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 39:2 (Jun 1996)
Article: Theology Of Worship In Exodus 24
Author: John W. Hilber


Theology Of Worship In Exodus 24

John W. Hilber**

Worship is a subject of immense importance. A considerable mass of Biblical text is occupied with instructions, patterns and source material for worship, and worship encompasses a great deal of what faith communities do. 1 Within the context of the OT and the worshiping community of ancient Israel, Exodus 24 holds a prominent place for understanding worship. This is due to the climactic function of Exodus 24 in the tradition of the Sinai covenant and the close connection between covenant-making and cult. 2 This paper considers the exegesis and theology of worship in the covenant rati-fication ceremony of Exod 24:1–11. 3

I. The Context Of Exodus 24

1. Covenant and divine presence. Exodus 24 is the climax of the covenant-making experience that was formally initiated when YHWH descended on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19). 4 But the making of the covenant between YHWH and Israel has roots in the exodus experience and encompasses the entire book of Exodus. In this context the centrality of the divine presence to the covenant is seen in many passages: YHWH’s promise to “come down” to deliver his people (Exod 3:8); his presence “with” Moses and Israel during the exodus (3:12; 13:18–22); his promise to make the nation’s inheritance the place of his dwelling (15:17); the withdrawal of divine presence as a

* John Hilber is a member of the pastoral sta• at Believers Fellowship, 4112 Hunt Street NW, Gig Harbor, WA 98335.

consequence of breaking covenant (33:3, 14–15). Moses’ own exposition reveals the importance of divine presence to the covenant (Deut 4:7; Num 14:13–14). Along with the giving of law, the most conspicuous theme of the Sinai experience is the theophany on the mountain and the response of the people to God’s presence (Exod 19:9–25;

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