Exodus 34: Renewed Covenant

And the Lord said to Moses, “Cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke. 2 So be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself to Me there on the top of the mountain.3 And no man shall come up with you, and let no man be seen throughout all the mountain; let neither flocks nor herds feed before that mountain.”

4 So he cut two tablets of stone like the first ones. Then Moses rose early in the morning and went up  Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him; and he took in his hand the two tablets of stone.

-        When Moses saw the Israelites worshiping the golden calf, he threw down the tablets and they broke. The Israelites didn’t maintain their portion of the covenant. It's great to know that the Lord is “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” (Exodus 24:6).

-        How blessed we are to have Jesus Christ, Who fulfills the covenant put in place during this time. As New Testament believers, we don’t live by an if/then statement like this: If we follow His word and never sin, then He will love us. Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” What Jesus asks of us is that we believe in Him, and then rest in His grace.

5 Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 6 And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”

8 So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped. 9 Then he said, “If now I have found grace in Your sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance.”

-        For those who feel the God of the Old Testament is full of war, wrath, and death...look again at these descriptors: merciful, gracious, longsuffering, abounding in goodness and truth, forgiving. That’s a God I want to serve! Thank Him today for these characteristics which He extends to you.

-        Moses was in the pure presence of the Lord. In verse 8, we’re told Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. That word “bowed” actually means to shrivel up. He didn’t just bow his head in prayer like we do at church, he bent his body in worship. It wasn’t a scenario where he fell backwards and Joshua was behind him to catch him. (On a side note, you won’t find a reference in scripture of someone who fell back while worshiping. They always fell on their face – lying prostrate before the Lord or being on their knees with their head down. We must continually align our ways with God’s infallible word.)

10 And He said: “Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you. 11 Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I am driving out from before you the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. 12 Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst. 13 But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images 14 (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), 15 lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifice to their gods, and one of them invites you and you eat of his sacrifice, 16 and you take of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods and make your sons play the harlot with their gods.

-        God promised to do marvelous and awesome things for His children. Things that had never been done on earth. He also gave instructions and told Moses the Israelites must take serious steps to drive out the people who inhabit the Promised Land. Every altar, pillar, and image must be destroyed. These people came from Egypt – the land of false gods. Worshiping idols was their weakness and God knew if they didn’t completely drive out the people and destroy the graven altars and images, they would go right back into bondage. The same topic came up last week - what do you need to rid from your life and replace with something God-honoring? Listen to God – who is jealous for you – and rid yourself of all idols.

17 “You shall make no molded gods for yourselves.

18 “The Feast of Unleavened Bread you shall keep. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, in the appointed time of the month of Abib; for in the month of Abib you came out from Egypt.

19 “All that open the womb are Mine, and every male firstborn among your livestock, whether ox or sheep. 20 But the firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb. And if you will not redeem him, then you shall break his neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem.

“And none shall appear before Me empty-handed.

21 “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.

22 “And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end.

23 “Three times in the year all your men shall appear before the Lord, the Lord God of Israel. 24 For I will cast out the nations before you and enlarge your borders; neither will any man covet your land when you go up to appear before the Lord your God three times in the year.

25 “You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leaven, nor shall the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover be left until morning.

26 “The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.”

-        God renewed His covenant with His people and He gave them specific instructions. Here is what they were told:

1.      Make no gods for yourself. Good idea, right? This got them into trouble before – they made a molten calf and worshiped it. It’s also probable that molten images were the ones chiefly worshiped by the Canaanites (who they were to drive out).

2.      The Feast of Unleavened Bread. This was the feast they celebrated before they were lead out of Egypt. Remember in Exodus 12 when the Israelites had to rid their entire house of leaven? God wants them to keep that tradition of remembrance to His deliverance. Take some time now and remember the things the Lord has done for you.

3.      Firstborns belong to Me. We saw this first instituted in Exodus 13. God was to receive the first of everything. He wanted the firstborn cow, sheep, or goat sacrificed to God. Any firstborn unclean animal – like a camel, donkey, rabbit, etc. – could only be redeemed by a cow, lamb, or goat. The spiritual parallel here is that before we apply Christ’s blood to our lives, we are considered unclean. And therefore, it takes the blood of the Lamb (Jesus) for us to be redeemed.

4.      Six days you work, the seventh you rest. This was unheard of in this day and age. Everyone worked…every day. To take a day off was to lose money. But God wanted to be Jehovah Jireh to them – their Provider. As a believer, you have the blessing of resting in Him daily. Praise God that He provides true rest and peace to His beloved.

5.      Observe Feast of Weeks, first fruits wave offering, and Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast of Weeks, or Feast of Pentecost, happened seven weeks after Passover. The first fruits were waved before the Lord and the Feast of Tabernacles was a joyous celebration which focused on the abundance of God.

27 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

-        Moses wasn’t the one who wrote the commandments on stone, it was God. Moses was with the Lord 40 days and 40 nights – feeding and drinking from His truth. He was sustained by the Bread of Life and did not have to worry about what he would eat or drink (Matthew 6:25). Maybe it's time to consider abstaining from food or drink to spend some deep and intimate time with the Lord.

29 Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. 30 So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him; and Moses talked with them.32 Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them as commandments all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. 34 But whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he would take the veil off until he came out; and he would come out and speak to the children of Israel whatever he had been commanded. 35 And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone, then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.

-        How awesome is it that the face of Moses was shining with God’s glory? He spent time with Him and therefore, radiated God. When we spend time with the Lord each day, our life shines with His light. I can tell a complete difference in myself when I’ve had a great quiet time vs. when I didn’t really put my heart into it and just went through the motions. God desires that intimate time with us and we, too, have an opportunity to shine! Amen.