Exodus Chapter 34

New Stone Tablets

    • The Lord told Moses to cut two more stone tablets, come back up Mount Sinai alone the next morning and stand before Him. He said that He would re-write what He had written on the first set of tablets that Moses had broken. The Lord also told Moses to be sure that no one was on the mountain at all and to even keep the livestock from grazing in front of it.

    • Moses did just as the Lord had commanded. The Lord came down in a cloud and stood with Moses and called out His name- Yahweh. Then the Lord went in front of Moses and said, “Yahweh is a compassionate and merciful God. I am slow to be provoked to anger and I am filled with unfailing love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations. I forgive wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin, but I will not leave the guilty unpunished. The consequences of the father’s sin will affect their children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”

      • Guzik writes, “This means that God revealed His character to Moses. The specific aspects of His character are mentioned in this passage, yet this was far more than a lecture on the nature of God. Moses experienced the character of God in a dramatic way.”

      • “This revelation of the character of God to Moses forever puts away the idea there is a bad God of the Old Testament that is in contrast to the good God of the New Testament. God’s character of love and mercy and grace is present in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament.” (Guzik)

      • “The Creator who was revealing Himself to the Israelites, and through them to the world, is a God of grace. Neither his justice nor his sovereignty are underlined here, as true as those attributes are. If God were merely just, the OT would have ended at this point, or it would have picked up and started again with an entirely new family. This did not happen because God, in his unique character, is slow to anger and full of unfailing love and faithfulness. These qualities were the basis for his renewal of the covenant.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

      • “It has been said by someone that ‘the proper study of mankind is man.’ I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.” (Spurgeon)

      • Here again the question arises about whether or not God punishes children for the sin of their fathers. The NLT commentary sums this answer up well, “God’s unfailing love and His generous desire to forgive are not weakness or indecisiveness, not are they reason to sin. Sin will have its effects, because God created a world of cause and effect. The murderer may repent, be forgiven, and lead a new life, but the effects of his previous choices will continue to play out. We should not sin just because we know that God will forgive. Our sins affect future generations of descendants, but God restricts the natural effect of those sins to three or four generations.”

    • Moses bowed to the ground and worshiped. He then said, “Oh Lord, if I have found favor with You, please travel with us. We are a stubborn and rebellious people, but please forgive our sins and accept us as Your special people.”

Covenant Obligations

    • The Lord told Moses, “Listen, I am making a covenant. I will perform awe-inspiring miracles that have never been performed on the earth. Listen carefully to everything I tell you today. I’m going to drive the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites out of the lands I am giving you.”

      • NLT Illstrated Study Bible notes, “In Hebrew, the word translated ‘listen’ also means ‘obey.’”

      • Guzik writes, “This was God’s covenant, that Israel was invited to join. He did not negotiate the terms with Israel. Instead He dictated the terms to the people of Israel through Moses…God’s plan was to glorify Himself to all the nations (all the people) through Israel, and to show His glory through the great things He did among them… Israel had a choice regarding those great things. Either the great things would be blessings so impressive that every nation would know that God alone had blessed Israel (as was the case with Solomon). Or, the great things would be curses so horrible that every nation would know God had chastised Israel and yet kept them a nation (as was the case with the exile). Either way, God would glorify Himself through Israel among the nations.”

    • The Lord continued, “Be careful not to make a treaty with any of these people in the lands that I’m giving you or they will become a trap for you. Instead, tear down their altars and sacred pillars, and chop down their Asherah poles. Don’t ever bow down to another god because I am a jealous God. Don’t make any treaty with the people in these lands because when they worship and prostitute themselves with their pagan gods and invite you to join them, you will accept. Then your children will intermarry and cause your sons and daughters to fall into idolatry. Don’t make images of gods to worship.”

      • “There was a definite connection between the worship of the Canaanite gods and sexual immorality. Many of the Canaanite gods were fertility gods and were worshiped with ritual prostitutes and sex.” (Guzik)

      • “NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “Asherah was a Canaanite fertility goddess who would continue to be a temptation throughout Israel’s history. The poles seem to have been fertility symbols.”

    • “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread by eating unleavened bread for the seven days during the month of Abib that are the anniversary of leaving Egypt (occurs during present day March/April) because this is the time that I rescued you.”

    • “All of your firstborn male animals belong to Me. You can buy back a male donkey by offering a lamb or goat in its place, but if you don’t you must break the donkey’s neck. All of your firstborn sons belong to Me also- you must buy them back by making an offering in their place. No one can come to me without an offering. Six days of the week are for work, but the seventh day you must rest- even during plowing and harvest times.”

    • “Celebrate the Festival of Weeks with the firstfruits from your wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the harvest season.”

    • “All your males must come before Me three times each year. As long as you do this, I will drive the other nations out of your lands ahead of you so that you cannot be conquered.”

      • “God commanded that at three feasts each year (Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles), each Israelite man should gather before the Lord (Exodus 23:14-17). Here God even promised a supernatural protection for an obedient Israel when they went to the feasts.” (Guzik)

    • “Don’t offer the blood for my sacrifices together with anything containing yeast, and don’t allow any meat from Passover to be left over the next morning. When you harvest your crops, bring the very best of your first harvest to the house of the Lord. Don’t cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.”

      • Guzik notes, “Leaven (yeast) is often a picture of sin in the Bible. Therefore, it was forbidden to include any kind of leaven in a blood sacrifice (as previous stated in Exodus 23:18)…When Israel came into Canaan, they had a special responsibility to make a firstfruit offering to God, in addition to their regular firstfruit offering (Exodus 23:16). Giving God the first and the best honored Him as the Good Provider of all things.”

      • Regarding the command not to cook a goat in its mother’s milk, Guzik writes, “This command is repeated from Exodus 23:19. It was a command to not imitate the cruel pagan fertility rituals practiced among the Canaanites.”

    • The Lord told Moses to write down all of those instructions because they were the terms of the covenant that He was making with Israel. Moses stayed on the mountain 40 days and 40 nights and during that time he didn’t eat any bread or drink any water. And the Lord wrote the terms of the covenant on the two stone tablets- the Ten Commandments.

      • “This was a completely unique and supernatural fast. It is definitely possible (yet remarkable) for someone to live without food for 40 days, but by any account it is a miracle to go without water for this long. This kind of fasting is never repeated or recommended in the Scriptures.”

Moses’ Radiant Face

    • When Moses came down Mt. Sinai with the two tablets he had no idea that the skin of his face was shining radiantly as a result of speaking with the Lord. When Aaron and the Israelites saw his shining face they were afraid of him!

      • “Moses, who had asked to see the glory of God, wasn’t aware that his own face reflected that glory.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

      • Spurgeon writes, “We read of only two men in the Bible whose faces shone like this: Moses and Stephen (Acts 6:15). Both were humble men. “I am afraid, brethren, that God could not afford to make our faces shine: we should grow too proud. It needs a very meek and lowly spirit to bear the shinings of God.”

      • Paul writes about this incident in II Corinthians 3:7-18 as an explanation of the Old Covenant the Israelites were under versus the New Covenant that we are now under. He refers to the commands written on the tablets of stone as the “ministry of death” (and also the “ministry of condemnation”) and says that if the glory of that ministry, which was ending, had so much glory as to make Moses’ face shine so radiantly that the Israelites couldn’t bear to look at him, imagine how much glory is contained in the new “ministry of the Spirit”- the “ministry of righteousness”. He says in comparison to the surpassing glory this new ministry has, the old seems to have none.

    • Moses called Aaron and the Israelite leaders. They came to him and he talked to them. Afterwards, all the Israelites came to him and he gave them all the commands that he had been given on the mountain. When he had finished talking, he put a veil over his face. When Moses would go to speak to the Lord he would uncover his face, then he would go before the Israelites to tell them what God had said and the Israelites would see that his face was shining. Then, Moses would put the veil back on until he went to speak with the Lord again.

      • Guzik writes, “It is easy to think that Moses wore the veil so the people would not be afraid to come near him (Exodus 34:30), or that the purpose of the veil was to protect others from the glorious radiance of Moses’ face. Yet the Apostle Paul explained the real purpose of the veil: not to hide the shining face of Moses, but so that the diminishing glory of his face would not be observed because the glory was fading…Moses, who put a veil over his face, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away (2 Corinthians 3:13). The Old Covenant had a glory, but it was a fading glory. God didn’t want people to see the fading glory of the Old Covenant, and lose confidence in Moses.”