Today’s Exodus reading is hard to follow, but the whole of that short passage is important. Let me do my best to help the reader understand. It is easiest to interpret the action if you pair the events of verses 1-2 with those in verses 9-11, while treating 3-8 as necessary preparation for verses 9-11. God tells Moses to bring companions with him further up Mount Sinai, but Moses alone is to approach God (vss. 1-2). When Moses and company approach God, God surprisingly allows them to see Him; contrast this with later writing in Exodus which states that no one can see God and live (Exodus 33:20). How we are to understand this? First, verse 11 makes clear that this occasion is exceptional, and this exception occurs because God is confirming His covenant and laws with His people. Second, the imagery focusing on pavement under God’s feet (24:10) suggests that these men are only seeing God’s feet and not His fullness, just like Moses would later see only God’s back (Exodus 33:21-23).

In 24:9-11, God kindly confirms His covenant without a complete unveiling of His holiness, demonstrating His desire for full relationship. The necessary preparations for this relationship transpire in 24:3-8. This section mentions two kinds of sacrifice: burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Burnt offerings are made to cover over sins, and fellowship offerings are made to cleanse people for fellowship purposes. These dual offerings and many to come in future readings prepare us for one ultimate offering that gives us both atonement and fellowship with God.