Exodus 34 - Outline of Exodus (Book Notes menu page)
34:1 And the LORD said unto Moses,
Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first:
and I will write upon [these] tables the words
that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.
34:2 And be ready in the morning,
and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai,
and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount.
34:3 And no man shall come up with thee,
neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount;
neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount.
34:4 And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first;
and Moses rose up early in the morning,
and went up unto mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him,
and took in his hand the two tables of stone.
I will write... the words... which thou breakest.- Though broken by men,
the Law of God remains unchanged, the standard of righteousness. Psa 119:89
34:5 And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there,
and proclaimed the name of the LORD.
34:6 And the LORD passed by before him,
and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious,
longsuffering, and abundant in goodness
{HB=chesed} and truth,
34:7 Keeping mercy
{HB=chesed} for thousands,
forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,
and that will by no means clear
{ie., hold blameless} [the guilty];
{ie., looking after} the iniquity of the fathers upon the children,
and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth [generation].
the LORD passed by before him...-
Moses had asked: "Show me thy glory." Here, the LORD fulfilled His promise to do so (Ex 33:18-23). But His visible glory is neither described nor mentioned. It must have been a glorious experience, to stand in the Presence of the LORD (v.5). However, the glory which the LORD proclaimed to Moses was a revelation of an aspect of His Name {ie., all that He is}, relating to His 'goodness' (Ex 33:19a).
the LORD... proclaimed... (v.6-7) -
Some of these statements have been said before. Compare:
  • Ex 20:5,6 - which emphasizes the LORD's jealousy. He expects His people to obey, and punishes disobedience.
  • Ex 33:19 - which emphasizes the LORD's sovereignty. He chose to show grace and mercy toward Moses, in answering his request.
Most of these statements (in v.6-7a) are new revelation concerning His 'goodness.'
...the LORD, the LORD God...
  • merciful {HB= rachum, compassionate} and gracious {HB= channun, inclined to show favor}
  • longsuffering {HB= 'arek 'aph, slow to anger}
  • abundant in {ie., full of, abounding with} goodness {HB= chesed, loving kindness}
    and truth {HB= 'emeth, stability, trustworthiness; His Truth is unchanging.}
  • keeping {ie., watching over, guarding} mercy {HB= chesed, loving kindness} for thousands,
  • forgiving {HB= nasah, lifting, taking away}...
    • iniquity {ie., perversity, depravity, guilt},
    • transgression {ie., rebellion, a willful departure from what is right},
    • sin {ie., digression from the way of righteousness, a missing of the goal}.
forgiving... - yet, 'by no means holding the guilty as blameless' (v.7).
The LORD is "abundant in goodness {ie., loving kindness, mercy} and truth" (v.6).
He cannot forgive sin by overlooking (or, ignoring) the truth concerning a man's guilt.
Rather, because He 'watches over loving kindness,' justice will be fully executed (v.7b).
Therefore, sin cannot forgiven (taken away), until its penalty is paid, and its perversion is displaced with righteousness.
In summary: God revealed Himself, as full of 'mercy and truth.'
But God's 'mercy' and His 'truth' are in conflict
  • Under the Law (the truth concerning His standard of righteousness), we see Him...
    1. 'not clearing' the guilty, but
    2. 'visiting sin' upon them, ensuring that they bear its consequences fully.
      Ex24:7; Lev 18:5 ('if...' but no one can 'do'.); Deu 5:29; Rom 3:19,20
  • Under Grace {wherein 'mercy and truth are met together,' Psa 85:10,11}, we see Him...
    1. 'not imputing' their sin unto them (2Cor 5:18-21), and
    2. 'blotting out' the accusation and sentence against us (Col 2:14).
      Christ is the Truth, the standard of righteousness who fulfilled the Law, both as the sinless man, and as the Lamb of God, who took sin away by paying its penalty, and imputing the righteousness of God to those who believe in Him (Rom 3:21-26).
to the third and fourth [generation]...- The effects and consequences of sin are far reaching.
However, for those who turn from sin to the LORD, His mercies more than counterbalance those effects. See Ex 20:5,6, which may be understood as saying that God allows the effects of His wrath to extend to three or four generations, but He extends His blessings to thousands of generations, for those who love Him (also see Deu 7:9).
He limits His wrath and multiplies His mercies. Even in wrath, He remembers mercy. cp. Hab 3:2
34:8 And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.
34:9 And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord,
let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it [is] a stiffnecked people;
and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.
...O Lord, let my Lord {HB= Adonai, my Master, my Lord, my Sovereign}...-
Throughout Exodus, the God of Israel is referred to as "the LORD" {HB= Yhvh (or) Yhwh, Jehovah} more than 335 times, as He reveals who He is, to His people (Ex 6:3,6-7) and to the nations (7:5). In Exodus, the LORD is referred to as "the Lord" {'Adonai'}, only 10 times.
     Here, Moses, having a deepening appreciation of the LORD {ie., the ever-living One, the Covenant keeping God of Israel}, addresses Him as 'my Master' (the One to whom I am in submission, and whom I obey).
     Moses, having received a revelation of the LORD's compassionate and merciful character (in v.6,7), now pleads for his sinful people on the basis of God's grace.
I pray thee...
  • go among us... for it is a stiff-necked people...
    A stiff-necked people, while being worthy of wrath (Ex 33:5), is in desperate need of Grace (v.9).
    Who but "the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in [loving kindness]" could bear with such a people?
    A people, who are 'prone to wander,' need a Shepherd with the boundless grace, and inexhaustible patience of the LORD.
  • and pardon our iniquity {HB= 'avon, perversity, depravity, guilt}...
    Moses, including himself among those who are worthy of judgment,
    pleads for forgiveness, to the LORD who revealed Himself as
    "keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin..."
  • take us for thine inheritance {HB= nachal, possession}...
    Moses, pleads with the LORD to commit Himself to full ownership of His wayward people, for apart from His grace there is no hope for them.
       In the course of their wilderness march, Israel would repeatedly fall into unbelief and rebellion. Only a few months later, when the nation came to the edge of the promised land, but refused to enter due to unbelief, Moses would again pray for them, on the basis of the LORD's self-revelation in v.6,7 (Num 14:17-19).
34:10 And he said, Behold, I make a covenant:
before all thy people I will do marvels,
such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation:
and all the people among which thou [art] shall see the work of the LORD:
{cp. Josh 5:1}
for it [is] a terrible
{ie., fear and awe inducing} thing that I will do with thee.
34:11 Observe thou that which I command thee this day:
behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite,
and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.
34:12 Take heed to thyself,
lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest,
lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:
34:13 But ye shall destroy their altars,
break their images, and cut down their groves:
{groves- HB= 'asherim, groups of multiple images of the Canaanite goddess Asherah, or other idols}
34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god:
for the LORD, whose name [is] Jealous, [is] a jealous God:
34:15 Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land,
and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods,
and [one] call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;
34:16 And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons,
and their daughters go a whoring after their gods,
and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.
34:17 Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
The LORD, in answer to Moses' prayer (v.9), acknowledges His special relationship to Israel.
The Covenant, of v.10, is a restatement of the Covenant which the people broke (Ex 19:5-8).
It is restated (as necessitated by their most recent failure, in worshipping the golden calf) with emphasis on the need to maintain separation from the people and practices associated with the worship of false gods.
for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.-
God's jealousy in the OT is often mentioned in the context of idol worship, which is a form of spiritual adultery (cp. Ex 20:5; Deu 4:23,24; Jer 3:8,9).
     He betrothed His people to Himself. Like a husband who loves his wife, the Lord seeks to keep and protect His own. He desires single minded followers, who return His love, and yearn only for the things that please Him.
God's jealousy leads Him to...
  1. judge the faithless among His people (Deu 6:14,15; Josh 24:19; Zeph 1:18),
    and the enemies of His people (Nah 1:2; Eze 36:5-12; Zeph 3:8).
  2. restore His people after judgment (Zech 1:14-16; 8:2,3; Joel 2:18; Eze 39:25; Isa 42:8; 48:11).
    God's jealousy is closely related to His zeal (both words are translated from the same HB root word, eg. Num 25:11). The LORD's jealous zeal will ensure the ultimate restoration of Israel under the promised Messiah (Isa 9:6,7).
       Israel remained responsible to 'take heed' to 'observe' all that God had commanded, for He would judge them according to the Law. Yet, the preservation and restoration of Israel, being beyond what they could do for themselves, would be accomplished by the zeal of the LORD Himself.
34:18 The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep.
Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee,
in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt.
34:19 All that openeth the matrix [is] mine;
and every firstling among thy cattle, [whether] ox or sheep, [that is male].
34:20 But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb:
and if thou redeem [him] not, then shalt thou break his neck.
All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem.
{Num 18:15,16}
And none shall appear before me empty.
34:21 Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest:
in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.
34:22 And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest,
and the feast of ingathering at the year's end.
34:23 Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear
before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel.
34:24 For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders:
neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear
before the LORD thy God thrice in the year.
34:25 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven;
neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.
34:26 The first of the firstfruits of thy land
thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God.
Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.
The commands to keep the Sabbath and the Feasts are restated briefly. cp. Ex 23:10-19; Lev 23:1-44
These designated times would continually redirect the nation's attention toward the LORD...
  • as their Redeemer, by blood and by power (Passover, Unleavened Bread).
  • as their Provider, (Firstfruits, Weeks, Pentecost).
  • as their Holy God who will dwell among them in a future Day, as He promised
    (Ingathering, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Tabernacles).
    [Review the Notes at Ex 23:14-17.]
34:27 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words:
for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.
34:28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights;
he did neither eat bread, nor drink water.
And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
...write... these words... I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel...
Considering the length of time that Moses was on the mountain, the LORD may have repeated the entirety of His previously stated covenant, in order to confirm that it was still intact and continuing. If so, v.10-28 provide a brief overview of the LORD's words to Moses, on this occasion.
forty days and forty nights- This was Moses' second fast of this length.
cp. Ex 24:18 (at the first giving of the Law); Deu 9:9-11,17-25
34:29 And it came to pass,
when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand,
when he came down from the mount,
that Moses wist
{ie., knew} not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.
34:30 And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses,
behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.
34:31 And Moses called unto them;
and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him:
and Moses talked with them.
34:32 And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh:
and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai.
34:33 And [till] Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.
34:34 But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him,
he took the vail off, until he came out.
And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel [that] which he was commanded.
34:35 And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone:
and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.
Moses' face shined with the after-glow of having been in the presence of the LORD.
Moses' veil... - (The points below are from 2Cor 3:7-18.)
  1. covered a 'glory of condemnation' which troubled the people,
    because it was a reminder of the glory of the God whose commandments condemned them to death. 2Cor 3:7
  2. covered a glory that was fading ("was to be done away").
    The Law, which condemns man in his sin, was a temporary measure, not a final end in itself.
    The coming of God's Grace, in Christ, would set men free from sin,
    that they might enter permanently into the glory of His Presence. 2Cor 3:7b-13
  3. speaks of Israel's blindness to God's ways (cp. Ex 33:13; Psa 103:7) and Way (Joh 14:6).
    But their blindness also is temporary. 2Cor 3:14-16; cp. Rom 11:25-27
  4. was removed, while Moses communed with God privately.
    Likewise, today, by the Holy Spirit, the believer has "open face" {ie., "unveiled"} access before the Lord, even while others are in bondage under spiritual darkness. 2Cor 3:17,18
As this chapter opened, the LORD was answering Moses' request: 'Show me thy glory' (Ex 33:18).
The LORD gave him a glimpse of His glory, by proclaiming that He would forgive {take away} sin, when His abundant mercy and truth would come together, in Jesus Christ (see notes above at v.6-7). However, Christ's first coming was 1,500 years after Moses and the giving of the Law. In the interim, Israel would continue under the fading glory of the Law, while awaiting that future day, when the Glory of God would be revealed in the face of Jesus Christ (2Cor 4:6). cp. Joh 1:14,17,18; Heb 1:1-3; 2:9,10
     The pattern of the Tabernacle and its worship (presented to Moses in ch.25-31), provided a preview of the glory of God, in the Person and work of Christ. In the closing chapters of Exodus, the Tabernacle construction is completed and the priestly ministry begun. The pattern is set before the nation, so that they, too, might glimpse the glory of God, who provided Himself a Lamb. Joh 1:29

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