Read Exodus 34
The New Stone Tablets
1 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. 2 Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. 3 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.”
4 So Moses chiseled 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. 5 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. 6 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, 7 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.”
8 Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped.9 “Lord,” he said, “if I have found favor 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.”
10 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.11 Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 12 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. 13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. 14 Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
15 “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. 16 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.
17 “Do not make any idols.
18 “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.
19 “The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock. 20 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.
21 “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.
22 “Celebrate the Festival of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering at the turn of the year. 23 Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord, the God of Israel. 24 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.
25 “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.
26 “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.”
27 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.” 28 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.
The Radiant Face of Moses
29 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. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them.32 Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.
33 When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. 34 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, 35 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.
People often don’t like reading the Old Testament and Exodus specifically because they think it’s outdated and irrelevant. If you’ve struggled at times with the detailed instructions, you’re not alone. Yet, Exodus 34 is such a rich chapter and destroys any belief that God’s Word in Exodus doesn’t apply to us today. In this chapter we see God re-establishing His covenant with Israel. Moses goes up the mountain with two empty tablets and comes back down with the Ten Commandments written on those same tablets.
We also see the character of God. Exodus 34:6-7 says, “…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…” In this one passage we learn so much about the character of God.
We see that He is compassionate, gracious, and slow to anger. He abounds in love and faithfulness and forgives wickedness, rebellion, and sin. And the fact that He is slow to anger is some of the best news possible. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8), and so this Good News applies to Moses and God’s people in the wilderness thousands of years ago as much as it applies to us today.
But God is also perfect and holy (and in case you’re confused, we are not). We see this all throughout the scriptures (a few examples: Exodus 3:5, 20:11, 1 Peter 1:14-16). We see this in the way the tabernacle is made and how the curtain separates the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (Exodus 26). He does not leave the guilty unpunished.
We deserve punishment and separation and God deserves payment for our sin. The beauty of the gospel shines in Exodus 34 as we see the Lord showing compassion, grace, and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. We are forgiven of our sins, but we are not the ones punished. In His grace, the Son of God takes our sin upon Himself. The unguilty One becomes the guilty One on our behalf. In the cross and in Exodus 34 God shows that He is both merciful and just and we are the ones who benefit eternally. Still think Exodus doesn’t apply to our lives today?
- Why did Moses have to go up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments again? Didn’t that already happen? (Hint: See Exodus 32)
- Why do you think God is a Jealous God? (see Exodus 34:14)
- Would people describe your face and countenance like Moses’ face is described in Exodus 34:29-35? Is there a joy and light that radiates from you?
Did You Know?
In Exodus 33:18-23, God covered Moses’ face to protect him from seeing too much of God’s glory. But in Exodus 34:29-35, Moses covered his face lest the people see too much of God’s glory.