Scriptures

Exodus 34

Introduction

‘The LORD said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain.” So Moses chiselled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the LORD had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands.’ Exodus 34:1-4

The New Stone Tablets

Earlier Moses broke the first set of stone tablets, the ones written with the finger of God, Exodus 32:19, which signified the breaking of the covenant between God and His people.

After God’s people demonstrated true repentance and returned to God, Exodus 33:4-6, it was time for God to renew the covenant. This is the reason why Moses ascended the mountain again in order to receive the law that was written on tablets of stone.

You will notice that on this occasion Moses would have to make the tablets, and God would write upon them, whereas on the first occasion God both made the stones and wrote upon them, Exodus 32:16.

When God first spoke the Ten Commandments to Israel at Mount Sinai, He commanded them to stay away, Exodus 19:12-13, and here they were still to stay away from the mount Sinai.

‘Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. “Lord,” he said, “if I have found favour in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.” Exodus 34:5-9

Notice again the mention of the cloud, this is no doubt the cloud of glory known as the Shekinah.

This is the same cloud of glory which covered Mount Sinai, Exodus 19:16. The same cloud which went with Israel by day, Exodus 13:21-22, and stood at the tent of Moses, Exodus 33:9-10, and the same cloud of glory which will later fill Solomon’s temple, 2 Chronicles 7:2.

It’s the cloud of glory which overshadowed Mary at the conception of Jesus, Luke 1:35, and was present at the transfiguration of Jesus, Luke 9:34-35, and it will be the same cloud of glory which will be present at the return of Jesus, Revelation 1:7.

When we read these verses, we read about the character and nature of God Himself, He is merciful, gracious, patient, abundant in goodness and truth and forgiving. God longs to show mercy to people, but the people must be repentant towards Him, Hebrews 6:4-6.

Throughout the rest of the Old Testament, God’s prophets quoted these words over and over again, Numbers 14:18 / Nehemiah 9:17 / Psalm 86:15 / Psalm 103:8 / Psalm 145:8 / Joel 2:15 / Jonah 4:2.

‘Then the LORD said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you. Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same. “Do not make any idols.’ Exodus 34:10-17

We can’t help but notice that God didn’t negotiate any terms and conditions with Israel in this covenant, instead He dictated the terms to the people of Israel through Moses.

What God is doing here is inspiring some awe into the lives of His people, he would do this by driving out the Canaanites before them and give them the land that He had promised to Abraham. In other words, God was going to use Israel to demonstrate His glory to all the other nations around through Israel.

Israel must be separate from the Canaanites in worship, Exodus 23:24, Israel was to destroy every image and idol that portrayed the false imaginations of the Canaanites. The images, or pillars, and the groves, the Asherah, were objects of worship of both male and female gods.

Notice also, Israel weren’t to ‘prostitute themselves to their gods,’ if anyone marries someone from another faith and who holds different beliefs, all too often they will adopt the faith and beliefs of the person they marry. If an Israelite is too marry, they must marry within the faith, in order to remain in the faith.

Notice again they are commanded not to make any idols, Exodus 20:4, this would have been fresh in the minds of the Israelites, especially after the golden calf incident, Exodus 32. We must remember that the sin isn’t so much in the making of the idol, but in the belief that motivates one to make the idol.

Not only were they to refrain from imagining other gods, they weren’t to make any image that would bring their imagination into the formation of something that is physical, Exodus 12:14-20 / Exodus 13:3-13 / Exodus 23:15.

Unfortunately, for Israel when they entered the promised land, they failed to do this, which resulted in them getting involved with idolatry, 2 Kings 21:3 / 2 Kings 21:7. This sinful behaviour eventually let them to becoming captives in Assyria and Babylon.

‘Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. For seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt. “The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock. Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem all your firstborn sons. “No one is to appear before me empty-handed. “Six days you shall labour, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the ploughing season and harvest you must rest. “Celebrate the Festival of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering at the turn of the year. Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD, the God of Israel. I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the LORD your God. “Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast, and do not let any of the sacrifice from the Passover Festival remain until morning. “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God. “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.” Exodus 34:17-26

The Feast Of Unleavened Bread

Passover began on the tenth and on the fourteenth they ate the Passover, and is the first day of unleavened bread, then for the next seven days, they would eat only unleavened bread, Leviticus 23:4-8 / Numbers 28:16-25 / Deuteronomy 16:1-8.

For the first Passover, the unleavened bread was a practical necessity, they left Egypt in such a hurry there was no time to allow for the dough to rise.

Leaven was also a picture of sin and corruption because of the way a little leaven would influence a whole lump of dough, and also because of the way leaven would ‘puff up’, the lump, even as pride and sin makes us ‘puffed up.’

Significantly, God called them to walk ‘unleavened’ after their initial deliverance from Egypt, symbolically, they were being called to a pure walk with the Lord.

Coffman, in his commentary says the following concerning the leaven.

‘Paul gave the spiritual application of it in 1 Corinthians 5:7, and Jesus mentioned it in Matthew 16:6-12. The only instance in which leaven might not have been intended to convey this meaning is that in the parable of the leaven hidden in three measures of meal, Matthew 13:33, and even there, if the true meaning is the final and total corruption of God’s church by the forces of evil, it would still retain the unfavourable denotation. In our interpretation of that we found no way to accept the premise of the final corruption of the whole church, Matthew 16:18, and therefore construed a favourable meaning of leaven there.’

Some suggest there was also a health aspect in getting rid of all the leaven, that since they used a piece of dough from the previous batch to make the bread for that day, and did so repeatedly, that harmful bacteria could take hold in the dough, so it was good to remove all leaven and start all over at least once a year.

The day following the Passover was to begin a week of feasting, Leviticus 23:6-14. For this entire week, God’s people were to eat unleavened bread.

On each day an offering was to be presented to the Lord. Once the Israelites were in the land, they would further celebrate this feast by bringing a sheaf of the firstfruits of their harvest. It was to be brought before the priest at the tabernacle.

On the first day of the week, he would take the sheaf and wave it before the Lord. Accompanying the sheaf would be the offering of a lamb and a grain offering with a libation of wine.

The First day of the week, the firstfruit sheaf, a sacrificed lamb, flour mixed with oil and wine. This is a picture of the resurrection of Christ. He is our Firstfruits, His resurrection is a promise of our resurrection which is to follow.

Because of that, we have a continuing observance, it is an observance of bread and wine. It remembers the sacrificed Lamb and it looks forward to the day when the firstfruits will be joined by the rest of the harvest.

Here God repeats the laws regarding the firstborn and their dedication to Him, Exodus 13:11-13 / Exodus 22:29-30. Israel were to resist the temptation of violating the Sabbath by ploughing when it rained or harvesting when the crop was ready on a Sabbath. Their desire to think of the things of this world mustn’t move them to violate the principle of the Sabbath.

Festival Of Weeks

This feast took place seven full weeks, or the fiftieth day, following the Feast of First Fruits and it was also known as Pentecost, meaning fifty. The Feast of Weeks commemorated the first fruits of the wheat harvest, which was basically a celebration of God’s provision.

As one of the harvest feasts, God’s people were instructed to present grain offerings to the Lord, Leviticus 23:1-19. They were also to offer several one-year old lambs without blemish, one young bull, and two rams, in addition to other offerings, Numbers 28:27-29. We also see God’s care for the poor and the foreigners during this period, Leviticus 23:22.

Because it occurred 50 days following the Feast of First Fruits, the date of the Feast of Weeks varied from late May to early June of each year. Like I mentioned the purpose of this feast was to commemorate the completion of the grain harvest.

Its distinguishing feature was the offering of ‘two leavened loaves’ made from the new corn of the completed harvest, which, with two lambs, were waved before the Lord as a thank offering.

The day of Pentecost is important for Christians as this is the day the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles, Acts 2:1-4. It was also the day the church was established when Peter preached the first Gospel message. Acts 2:14-41. The only other times the day is mentioned in the New Testament are in Acts 20:16 / 1 Corinthians 16:8.

Also notice God commands that at the three feasts each year, each Israelite man should gather before the Lord, Exodus 23:14-17. We also note that God will protect their land while they are celebrating.

The Feast Of Ingathering

Most of us don’t pay much attention to the agricultural cycles of nature but Israel was deeply aware of its own food cycles. The festivals of Judaism followed the agricultural cycle, Deuteronomy 8:8, the firstfruits of harvest were collected in baskets and taken to Jerusalem, Deuteronomy 26:1-11.

At sundown the Jewish festival of Sukkot will begin, the Feast of Ingathering, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles. By October, the harvest season came to an end when grapes, olives, pomegranates, figs, and dates were gathered in.

The feast was officially scheduled for the fifteenth day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, five days after the Day of Atonement, and it lasted for seven days.

One more festival day was added, Leviticus 23:33-36, according to the law, all Jews were to live in booths or huts during the celebration. These were outdoor shelters made from wild branches of olive, myrtle, palm, and other leaf trees, Nehemiah 8:15. A booth or tabernacle was a temporary dwelling.

Since this was the formal end of the harvest year, it was a time of celebration. The people joined parades of pilgrims at the Temple, and as they marched holding the lulav they sang the Hallel Psalms, Psalms 113-118. Ceremonies around the Temple were extensive, and celebrations were full. Sacrifice was another way they praised God during this feast.

But agriculture was not the only interest at Sukkoth or any of the other festivals. Passover tells the story tells of Israel fleeing Egypt. Pentecost reminds them of their coming to Mount Sinai to receive the covenant.

Tabernacles reminded them of the forty years in the wilderness, when they lived in the desert, they worshiped God at His Tabernacle and built shelters for themselves as well, Leviticus 23:42-43.

The Feast of tabernacles took place at the end of the dry season in Israel. In Israel, the rainy season begins in mid-October and ends in mid-April. In mid-April, the dry season begins and sometimes there is absolutely no rain for six months straight! The Feast of Tabernacles began at the end of the dry season, and this festival lasted for seven days, plus the added eighth day of rest.

The Feast of Tabernacles is a helpful reminder that thanksgiving is an important part of our daily lives. A thoughtful person knows that the capacities and opportunities we enjoy often should be credited less to ourselves and more to God. Tabernacles says, bring samples of what God has given you to the Temple and with them in hand, wrapped in your personal lulav thank Him.

Notice God says, ‘you shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk’ again, Exodus 23:19. It was a command to not imitate the cruel pagan fertility rituals practiced among the Canaanites.

‘Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.’ Exodus 34:27-28

The writing of the words was the renewal of the covenant that God had made with Israel. During the forty days that Moses was on the mountain, he wrote the remainder of the words of the covenant, though it was God who wrote the words of the ten commandments on the two stone tablets.

Moses is one of only three people who fasted without eating or drinking for forty days, that other two being Elijah, 1 Kings 19:8 and Jesus, Matthew 4:2. It’s clear that God was giving Moses the strength to do what he was doing because no one can survive without food or water for forty days and expect to live.

The Radiant Face Of Moses

‘When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the LORD had given him on Mount Sinai. When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever he entered the LORD’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD.’ Exodus 34:29-35

Coffman, in his commentary says the following.

‘Deuteronomy 10:1-5 tells us that when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, Moses made an ark of acacia wood in which to place them. This simple ark was the predecessor of the ark of the covenant described in Exodus 25:10-22. It was altogether a temporary device to serve until the Tabernacle and all of its equipment should be built’.

Because Moses had spent so much with God, his face was radiant. His face was so radiant that the leaders and the people of Israel noticed it and were afraid to go anywhere near him.

Notice that Moses, just like Stephen in the Book of Acts, Acts 6:15, was totally unaware of his radiant face, Numbers 12:3.

While he spoke with the people, his face glowed, but after he spoke, he put a veil on his face. The glowing of Moses’ face was a visual evidence to the people that He had been with God on the mountain, Luke 9:29-31 / Acts 6:15 / 2 Corinthians 3:7-18.

In the presence of God, Moses removed the veil from his face, but when he was among the people, he put a veil back on his face. We would be forgiven for thinking that he only wore a veil so the people wouldn’t be afraid to come near him. However, in the New Testament, Paul revealed the real purpose of the veil.

In 2 Corinthians 3:12-18, Paul says that though the Mosaic Law’s design was to bring men to Christ, that end was veiled to the hard hearted Judaizing teachers of Paul’s day, Galatians 3:24. So Paul said, “Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts, 2 Corinthians 3:15.

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. The Jews in Paul’s day were still not able to see the glory of God.

Instead of pointing up their sin and driving them to seek forgiveness through Jesus, they placed a voluntary veil of ignorance upon their hearts against Christ. Simply put, they rejected the Lord of glory. They missed the point and purpose of the Mosaic Law altogether, Galatians 3:19.

The veil that kept the end or fulfilment of the Mosaic Law known would be removed by those who wanted truth. When man seeks and knocks, he will surely find, Matthew 7:7. Those who don’t want the veil of Moses removed will voluntarily remain ignorant of Jesus and the New Covenant.

Go To Exodus 35

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."

Proverbs 3:5

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