Sunday, May 02, 2010
Pictures of the Supper: Covenant Meal - Exodus 24
The narrative of Exodus includes two prominent community meals. Exodus 18:12 records a meal of Jethro and the people of God. First an offering was offered, and then the community came together to eat “before God.” In Exodus 24:11, within the context of covenant renewal and after the sprinkling of the blood of atonement over the people, the Israelites share a meal. Here too, God is said to be present, for “they saw God.”
Neither of the meals recorded in Exodus are recorded as Passover observances. Even though they are not in the direct line from the Passover to the Lord's Supper, they have relevance and Eucharistic significance. They have similarities to the Passover in that a sacrifice or atonement precedes the meal. Commentator Peter Enns notes, “An element essential to both the Passover and the Lord's Supper, and one that is also prominent in Exodus 24, is the shedding of blood...the sprinkling of blood...is an integral element in a covenant celebration.”* The meal, then, is enjoyed in celebration of a reconciliation of the people and God through sacrifice. Both Exodus 18:12 and 24:11, also, record the meal as being in the presence of God. This apparently is enabled by the preceding sacrifice before the meal can be enjoyed.
The Exodus 24:11 meal also happens in the context of a covenant. In Exodus 24:11 covenant meal is the product of the Exodus redemption. The people had been redeemed by the blood of the lamb. Here, the people are sprinkled against with blood after the giving of the law in Exodus 20. Exodus 20 begins with the affirmation that “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:2) The imperatives of the law were given in light of the indicative of redemption. In Exodus 24, the people are reminded of the covenant (Exodus 24:7) and reminded of their redemption by blood (Exodus 24:8). In light of covenant redemption, the people eat and drink.
Although the Exodus meals are not a direct celebration of Passover, they share a covenantal nature with Passover. When Christ takes the cup and declares it to be “the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20) although we typically think of Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 34 with the language of new covenant, we also must think of Exodus 24 with the connection of blood and covenant. Passover, the Exodus 24:11 covenant meal, and the Lord's Supper, are all celebratory meals in light of the redeeming blood of the covenant. The Passover and covenant meal sacrifices required repetition, but the Lord's Supper happens in light of the “once for all” sacrifice of Christ. (Heb 10:10)
*[Peter Enns. Exodus: The NIV Application Commentary. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 2000), 496. And no this is not a full endorcement of all things Enns. However, his Exodus commentary is very helpful]