About Jesus      Steve Sweetman

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This Chapter - 34 to end of Exodus

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ch.34:1-29   ch. 34:29-35   ch. 35 through ch.40


The New Stone Tablets (ch. 34:1 - 28)


In verses 1 through 3 God tells Moses to prepare two tablets of stone like the ones he broke when he saw Israel worshipping the gold calf.  God was in fact giving Moses and Israel another chance here.  Once Moses made these two tablets, he was to come to Mount Sinai again to meet with God.  No one was to come with him.  Animals could not even come near and touch the mountain. 


Verses 4 and 5 simply state that Moses did as he was told and that he met with God.


The actual meeting of God and Moses takes place in verse 5 where God proclaimed His name to Moses.  His name as stated here is "the Lord'.  That's "Yahweh".  You will remember Exodus 3:13 16 is where God officially introduced Himself as "Yahweh" to Moses and Israel.


The word "proclaim" here means "to cry out, or to call".  God announced His appearance with a cry, or a loud voice.  The announcement can be understood in terms of a royal proclamation.


All of this proclamation is found in verses 6 and 7.  God proclaimed; "The Lord, the Lord, (Yahweh Yahweh) the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and 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 their fathers to the third and fourth generation." 


There is a lot in this proclamation.  First of all, He mentions His name "Yahweh" twice.  He also says that the Lord is God.  In Hebrew that means, "Yahweh is Elohim."  That means the God that is speaking to Moses is the only true God.  He is the God of creation.  When you see the word "God" in the creation account in Genesis, that is the Hebrew word "Elohim".


God says of Himself that He is compassionate, gracious and slow to anger.  He does not say that He never gets angry, because we have seen that God does get angry.  When Israel worshipped the gold calf, God Himself said that His anger burned within Him. Exodus 32:10)  That being said, He is compassionate and gracious.  He does not like to express anger.  He'd rather express love and grace, because that is fundamental to who He is. 


God says that He forgives wickedness, rebellion and sin, and that He does.  But this forgiveness is based on justice.  He does not indiscriminately forgive sin.  His forgiveness isn't sloppy love, as I call it.  There is a process to go through in order for God to forgive sin.  This is seen in the next phrase that says the He will punish the guilty, and not even the guilty, but their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren.


You might ask, "how does God forgiving sin correlate with Him punishing the guilty and their descendents?" This is where justice comes in.  God can't simply proclaim someone as being forgiven.  That would go against who He is .  That would violate His very nature.  Justice demands a verdict.  If someone is found to be guilty, then he must be punished.  That is how God operates. 


This is the gospel that is found in Jesus.  God entered sinful humanity and was punished on our behalf so we would not have to be punished.  We'd simply receive God's love and grace.  If we choose to reject God's provision that is found in the cross of Christ, there is no other way to be forgiven.  We will receive worse punishment than what would have normally been pronounced for the sin we committed. 


In order to receive forgiveness of sin, we must repent.  That is acknowledge our sinfulness.  After that we must accept the fact that Jesus was punished in our place.  When we apply the cross to our sinful lives, we are forgiven. 


We also need to understand that forgiveness is only the beginning of the matter.  We are forgiven in order for the Holy Spirit to come and live within us.  God cannot live in sinful man, but since Jesus took away our sin, even though we still sin, He can live inside of us by His Spirit because those sins have been accounted for and punished.  That's not the end of the matter either.  We receive the Holy Spirit in order to be reconciled to God, do His will, and live with Him forever.


The idea that God punished people's children to the third and fourth generation is hard for most to understand.  This is how I think about this.  I believe God is speaking of "generations" here, not "individual" children.  If a child or a grandchild come to Jesus in repentance and faith, he is forgiven.  The punishment ends there.  That being said, the whole generation will suffer as a result of their parents sin.  The same is true in reverse.


I believe western nations and their generations have been blessed due to their embracing of the Reformation.  I think that is quite evident.  On the other hand, western nations are now departing from what they learned from the Reformation.  We are now beginning to see God's punishment, or, the withdrawal of His blessing from one generation to the next because we and past generations have forsaken the ways of God.  Simply put, God punishes the generation, not the individual.


In verse 8 Moses responds to God by falling to the ground and worshipping God.  This is the only thing He could possibly do.  We will do the same at the end of this age.  The New Testament teaches that all mankind will bow their knees and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Some will confess with humble and grateful hearts. Other's will confess with regret because they failed to confess Jesus as Lord in their lives.


There's much teaching today concerning calling God "daddy".  There is some New Testament precedent for this.  The word "abba" that is found three times in the New Testament is an affectionate expression for a father, and in these cases for our heavenly Father.  That being said, there is much more overwhelming Biblical teaching that tells us that God is a consuming fire and the we cannot stand in His presence.  I do not think we can teach the "abba nature" of our relationship with our heavenly Father without clarifying who God really is.  We cannot take His or His name lightly, but this is what many people are doing these days.


In verse 9 Moses says, "O Lord, I have found favour in your eyes."  These are humble words.  Moses is grateful that he has found favour in the eyes of God, even though he is a sinner.  This should always be our response before God.  We should leave any pride at the door and come to God in great humbleness.  We deserve nothing from God, other than punishment.  I say that the more we know of God, the more we know God, the more appreciative and humble  we become. 


Moses continues to plead with God from this position of humbleness  He pleads that God will go with Israel, even though they are so sinful.  Remember, God told Moses back in chapter 34 that He would send an angel before Israel instead of Him going before Israel .  Moses was interceding on the behalf of wicked Israel.  He was acknowledging that they could not take the trip, even if an angel helped them.  They needed God alone.  No other would do.  If church leaders today could be like Moses, we'd be in much better shape than what we are.


In verse 10 we see God making a covenant with Israel .  Remember, God made an unconditional covenant with Abraham.  This covenant is different than the Abrahamic Covenant.  The Abrahamic Covenant was unconditional, and God made it with Himself, not with Abraham. The covenant that God is now making is conditional, and He is making it with Israel .


He promises Israel that He would do miraculous things among and before them, things that no other nation has seen God do.  Notice that God is now calling Israel a nation.  They are more than His people.  They are a nation.


In verse 11 you see what miracles God is speaking of.  If Israel would obey Him, He'd drive out their enemies, six are listed, when they arrive in Canaan .  Such victory would not have been seen in world events in the history of man to that date.


Verse 12 is so important, both to Israel and to Christians today.  God told Israel not to make any treaties with the people in the land, or else they would become a snare to them.  How true that is.  Israel or Christians are not to align themselves on the side of the world.  God's people must be a distinct and separate people from the rest of the world.  They are to be a witness of the Lord to the world and this is not possible when we make treaties and align ourselves with the world.  The sad fact of the matter is that Israel struggled with this all the way through the Old Testament, and they still do, and so do the church and Christians.


The world, which in one sense is our enemy, will be a snare to us if we align ourselves with the world.  We will soon adopt worldly ways and lose the ways of God in the process.  This happened to Israel .  This has happened to the church over and over again, and is happening again in the so-called post-modern church.


In verse 13 God says that when Israel comes into the land of Canaan they are to smash down the altars, and poles. These poles were used in pagan worship.  The simple fact here is that Israel was to get rid of every bit of pagan worship from among them.  It they didn't, that would only infect them and sooner or later they would give into the pagan lifestyle.  They did just that because they failed from time to time to get rid of all pagan religious symbols.  Again, that which God told Israel back then applies to the church today, but we have not done what God commanded in many respects.  We have allowed pagan and worldly philosophies into our individual lives and into the church.  That weakened us immensely.


In verse 14 we see yet another name by which God calls Himself.  We need to note at this point that every name God has for Himself is descriptive of who He is.  It shows a character quality of Himself.  This particular name of God is "Jealous".  Most people view jealousy as a negative trait, but not so with God.  He is a jealous God. 


If a wife flirts with another man, the husband of the wife has the right to be jealous because the wife should not be flirting with other men.  In this instance, jealousy is a normal response, and should not be viewed as being negative.  God is jealous as well.  We have been made by Him and for Him.  For this reason, our first allegiance is to our God.


Verse 15 is also very relevant both to Israel back then and to the church today.  Again God tells Israel not to make treaties with the pagans in the land of Canaan.  The text does not specify the land of Canaan, but that is what is meant.  When it comes to the word "treaties", I believe what is meant is that Israel should not align itself with the pagan world and get involved with them in the area of finance, education, or any other social category. God is right when He says that if you align yourself with the pagans, sooner or later you will be sucked into their ways and practice their religion.


Note the term "prostitute themselves with their gods."  Worshipping any other god in the eyes of God is actually "spiritual prostitution."  Note that these pagan cultures civilizations prostitute themselves.  We think of Israel doing the same when they worship other gods.  But in reality, all nations on the earth were to worship the one and only God.  Israel was set apart to be an example to those other nations.  So no matter who it is, even if it is the Christian today, when we give ourselves to other religions we are committing spiritual adultery. 


Note also the words "eat with them".  Eating was a part of most pagan ceremonies, as it was with Israeli worship.  God would later tell Israel in the Law of Moses not to eat with pagans.   This is why the Pharisees came down hard on Jesus for eating with sinners.  The apostle Paul makes a point of this in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11.  he said that he would eat meat that had been offered to idols if someone invited him over for lunch and that is what he was served.  But what he wouldn't do is eat meat offered to idols in the context of a pagan ceremony.  That would have meant that he was participating in pagan god worship, and he could not do that.  It would be spiritual adultery to him. 


In verse 16 God says that when the sons of Israel marry daughters of pagans, the sons will prostitute themselves when they worship their pagan gods.  By doing this, the sons will be dragged into this spiritual adultery.  Over and over again, since the days of Abraham, God told Israeli sons not to marry women of other religious cultures.  Again, this is one command that Israel broke over and over again.


Verse 17 simply says "do not make cast idols."  That is simple enough to under stand.  This was the second of the Ten Commandments that God repeats here.


From verse 18 to verse 29 I will not comment on every verse.  God commands Israel on certain things that He has already mentioned earlier. 


Note that three times a year every Israeli man had to appear before the Lord.  These times were the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Ingathering.  They would have to appear before the tabernacle, and later at the temple when it was built.  That meant that Jesus would have gone to Jerusalem three times a year to observe these feasts.


Note verse 27.  God told Moses to write these commands down because He was making a covenant with him and Israel.  Again, this covenant differs from the Abrahamic Covenant because God made this covenant with Israel while He made the Abrahamic covenant with Himself. 


In verse 29 we see that Moses wrote on the two tablets of stone the Ten Commandments.  This is the first mention that these commandments were called "the Ten Commandments". 


Notice that Moses was with God on the mountain again for another 40 days.  This reminds me of Jesus being in the desert for 40 days.  Of course, the life of Moses is prophetic of Jesus, so you would expect such similarities.


The Radiant Face Of Moses (ch. 34:29 - 35)


This section states how Moses' face radiated because he was in the presence of God.  His face was so bright that he had to where a veil on it, but when he went into the presence of God, he removed the veil. 


This sections seems to suggest to me that Moses and God met quite often.  I'd suggest that maybe God met with Moses more than any other man in the Old Testament.  From this point on, it seems like they met on a regular basis.  God and Moses seem to have a special communion with each other, and again, this is prophetic of Jesus and His heavenly Father. 


The removing of the veil by Moses when in the presence of the Lord suggest a New Testament principle.  Nothing can or should separate us from the Lord when we are in His presence, not even a veil.


Sabbath Regulations (ch. 35 to the end of ch. 40)


I will not make much comment on the rest of Exodus.   In these chapters Israel builds what God instructed.  All that is stated in these last chapters can be seen in earlier chapters when God told Moses how to build the tabernacle.  The following is traditional Jewish style writing, which is very repetitive. The following states the construction of the tabernacle just as God told Moses to build it.


Note in chapter 40 that once everything was built, it was Moses who put all the furniture of the tabernacle in its place.  I think that is significant and prophetic.  It is Jesus who actually comes back to earth at the end of the age and puts everything in its place concerning  the church, Israel , and the Kingdom of God.


What I'm about to say is based on "typology", meaning, these Old Testament events often have prophetic meaning.  Note that the glory of God came to the tabernacle  after Moses put the furniture in place.  The tabernacle itself was built by the people.  Moses put the furniture in its place.  Over the last two centuries Christians have been building the church with the help of the Holy Spirit.  Moses represents Jesus here, and as the glory of the Lord came to the Tabernacle after Moses put the furniture in its [place, so the glory of the Lord will be seen after Jesus returns and puts the final touches on to the church.  This would refute Restoration Theology that states we as Christians will perfect the church and only once we've finished, Jesus will return.  He will return to the glory of God in the church.  I don't believe that.  I believe that He will return and as a result, the glory of God will come to the church.   


In chapter 40, verse 24, after Moses put all things in its place, the glory of the Lord came to the tabernacle.  In my thinking, this is what takes place at the end of the book of Revelation.  The glory of the Lord is finally seen in His people.


The book of Exodus ends with us learning that the cloud of God's glory stayed at the tabernacle.  When it lifted, that meant Israel would move on and follow the cloud.  This may sound too far out to be true, but as I've said before, if you can't believe this, you can't believe much else in the Bible, because the Bible is full of strange and wonderful things such as this, including the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Liberal theologians have taken miracles such as this out of the Bible, leaving the Bible with no supernatural content.  In the process of doing this, they've destroyed the Bible, making it worth nothing. 


The last thing to learn from the book of Exodus is that Israel was to follow the cloud of God's glory.  So too are we, both as individual Christians and the church.  We follow our Lord, or at least we should.  He does not follow us.  I'm not sure if this is what really happens though. May God help us follow the cloud of His New Testament glory.  Amen.           


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