1-4 The New Stone Tablets 5-9 The LORD Calls out His Name 10-17 The LORD Makes a Covenant 18-27 Repetition of Various Statutes 28-35 The Shining Face of Moses
The New Stone Tablets

1Now the LORD said to Moses, “Cut out for yourself two stone tablets like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered. 2So be ready by morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to Me on the top of the mountain. 3No man is to come up with you, nor let any man be seen anywhere on the mountain; even the flocks and the herds may not graze in front of that mountain.” 4So he cut out two stone tablets like the former ones, and Moses rose up early in the morning and went up to Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and he took two stone tablets in his hand.

The first pair of stone tablets were broken by man’s unfaithfulness, but that does not change God’s law. Moses has to cut out two new stone tablets and God writes exactly the same on them as He wrote on the first tablets. The basis of the relationship between God and His people remains the law.

Yet there is a difference. The first stone tablets are cut out by God (Exo 32:1616The tablets were God’s work, and the writing was God’s writing engraved on the tablets.), while this second pair must be cut out by Moses. Another difference we read in Deuteronomy 10. God says there that this second pair must be put in the ark (Deu 10:22I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered, and you shall put them in the ark.’).

The first stone tablets represent Christ. He is killed when He is come to His people. The second stone tablets are a picture of the believers. God desires that they display who Christ is. The believers are in Him, as are the tablets in the ark. Moses on the mountain is a picture of the Lord Jesus who is busy forming His people in the image of Himself.

The LORD Calls out His Name

5The LORD descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the LORD. 6Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave [the guilty] unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” 8Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship. 9He said, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go along in our midst, even though the people are so obstinate, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your own possession.”

The LORD has said to Moses in verse 22So be ready by morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to Me on the top of the mountain. that he must stand before him on the top of the mountain. Now we see that the LORD in his condescending goodness comes down in a cloud, the dwelling place of his glory, and stands with Moses. Moses can only stand before the LORD because the LORD comes to him. It is the same with us. We can only stand before God because He came to us in Christ, who is the “radiance of His glory” (Heb 1:33And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,).

The LORD calls out His Name. With this He calls out Who and what He is. Here Moses sees His glory pass by, which he asked for in the previous chapter. The names of the LORD show that He is first compassionate, gracious, patient, and rich in lovingkindness and is faithful, and also forgives, after which it follows that He also acts righteously, and in truth. This order we also see in the Lord Jesus, who is “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:1414And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.) and of Whom it says that through Him “grace and truth” has come (Jn 1:1717For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.).

God can forgive on the basis of Who He is, and He will punish the guilty on that same basis. He can forgive because He has punished the Innocent for those who know they are guilty. Those who do not repent remain guilty before Him. The consequences of sin work on into the generations. That is not to say that anyone is lost for what another has done, for each is punished for his own sins (Eze 18:20a20The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.). But if, for example, the father is a thief, there is a good chance that he will teach his children the same wrong things. They imitate it.

This revelation of God’s glory leads Moses to ask again whether the LORD wants to go in the midst of the people. The remarkable reason is the stubbornness of the people. That is precisely why Moses asks it. With this he indicates that the people will never reach the promised land by their own strength, but that the LORD will have to bring them there. He pleads with God for the people because He is God and not man (Hos 11:9b9I will not execute My fierce anger;
I will not destroy Ephraim again.
For I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst,
And I will not come in wrath.

The LORD Makes a Covenant

10Then God said, “Behold, I am going to make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform miracles which have not been produced in all the earth nor among any of the nations; and all the people among whom you live will see the working of the LORD, for it is a fearful thing that I am going to perform with you. 11“Be sure to observe what I am commanding you this day: behold, I am going to drive out the Amorite before you, and the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite. 12Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst. 13But [rather], you are to tear down their altars and smash their [sacred] pillars and cut down their Asherim 14—for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God— 15otherwise you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of his sacrifice, 16and you might take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters might play the harlot with their gods and cause your sons [also] to play the harlot with their gods. 17You shall make for yourself no molten gods.

God promises that He will go with them. He makes a covenant with them. He ushers in the covenant with “behold”, through which He puts emphasis on it. He wants His people to understand that He is making this covenant. The people must also realize that this covenant excludes any other covenant. They may in no way enter into a covenant with the inhabitants of the land who assert their rights to God’s land. Any connection with people who claim God’s land for themselves and thus deny God’s rights, is a denial of the connection with God.

A connection with the inhabitants of the land will lead to God’s people worshipping the gods of the land. And that is absolutely forbidden. That is why they must put an end to everything that is a reminder of false worship. Altars, sacred pillars and sacred stones, it all has to be shattered. God demands the worship of His people exclusively for Himself. He longs for the love of a people He has set free to make them His own people. He is an envious or jealous God. Not that He compares Himself to gods of gold and silver, wood and stone, but He does not want His people to get involved with them and lead themselves to destruction. Rather He seeks their happiness.

Repetition of Various Statutes

18“You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in the month of Abib you came out of Egypt. 19“The first offspring from every womb belongs to Me, and all your male livestock, the first offspring from cattle and sheep. 20You shall redeem with a lamb the first offspring from a donkey; and if you do not redeem [it], then you shall break its neck. You shall redeem all the firstborn of your sons. None shall appear before Me empty-handed. 21“You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; [even] during plowing time and harvest you shall rest. 22You shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks, [that is], the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year. 23Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel. 24For I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your borders, and no man shall covet your land when you go up three times a year to appear before the LORD your God. 25“You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread, nor is the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover to be left over until morning. 26“You shall bring the very first of the first fruits of your soil into the house of the LORD your God. “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” 27Then 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.”

The repetition of various statutes shows that there has been no change in this either. Man’s sin will never cause God to adjust His standards of holiness and righteousness. God’s rights to the devotion of His people and to all their possessions are expressed in the three great feasts which the LORD once again expresses to His people.

The first feast is the Feast of unleavened bread, which is immediately linked to the Passover. This feast indicates that He wants to see a people who have disposed of the leaven – leaven is a picture of sin in all its forms – and who feed on good things. He wants their lives to be a feast for Him and for them.

This is linked to His right to “the first offspring from every womb”, with the extra accent that a firstborn must be redeemed. In the right to the firstborn He wants them to acknowledge His right to all that they possess. Then they will not appear before Him with empty hearts. When they come to Him, they will have something with them to sacrifice to Him as an expression of the rights He has over them and also as an expression of their gratitude that they may be His people. He has received right on us through the work of His Son, through which we have been redeemed from the power of sin.

He wants Israel to keep the sabbath as a day of rest. Then they can reflect especially on what He has said. He also wants them to come to His house three times a year with the best fruits of the land. They don’t have to worry about what they leave behind. He will take care of that.

The second feast, the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost, which is held seven weeks after the Passover, is the feast for the first fruits of the land. This feast is linked to the offering of the first sheaf of the harvest to the LORD. It is the first fruits of the harvest. “Christ” is risen as “First fruit” from the dead (1Cor 15:23a23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming,). In the resurrection He also connected with Himself all those whom He redeemed through His work on the cross. They are first fruits of a new creation (Jam 1:1818In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.).

The third great feast, the Feast of Tabernacles, is the feast of the collection at the end of the year. Then the full harvest is brought in. It speaks of the renewal of all things in accordance with God’s plan. What already applies to Christ and His own will then be seen in all creation. Creation then delivers its full fruit for God, which is offered to Him by all who may be part of it.

By maintaining these statutes, they can express their love for Him. Love will want to obey Him and trust Him. He wants to see this with His people. This has to do with having an eye for the relationships that God has given and the respect for their tenderness. In natural terms, God shows this by prohibiting the boiling of a young goat in its mother’s milk. As unnatural as that is, so also is it unnatural not to give God with a longing heart what is due to Him.

Moses is commissioned to write this all down. What is written down is recorded as a reminder for the present generation and to pass on to the next generation (Isa 30:88Now go, write it on a tablet before them
And inscribe it on a scroll,
That it may serve in the time to come
As a witness forever.
). God’s concern is also for the future, that His own will always know what He wants. Through their sin with the golden calf, their understanding of what God has said has also been reduced. Sin always means that we have lost sight of God’s thoughts or at least understand them less. Therefore, we must be reminded by the Word.

The Shining Face of Moses

28So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. 29It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony [were] in Moses’ hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him. 30So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. 31Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers in the congregation returned to him; and Moses spoke to them. 32Afterward all the sons of Israel came near, and he commanded them [to do] everything that the LORD had spoken to him on Mount Sinai. 33When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. 34But whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he would take off the veil until he came out; and whenever he came out and spoke to the sons of Israel what he had been commanded, 35the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with Him.

The first time Moses came from the mountain with the law of God with him, his face did not shine. Now that is the case. When God reveals Himself in grace and love, it has a reflection on everyone who is in fellowship with Him (cf. Acts 4:13b13Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and [began] to recognize them as having been with Jesus.). Moses himself does not know that his face is shining. It’s not something you’re busy with yourself either. It is simply the result of fellowship with God. Those who live in fellowship with God do not think of themselves.

Instead of being attracted by the radiance of Moses, Aaron and the Israelites are afraid. Legal people are always frightened by grace. They are full of themselves and their own abilities or attempts to please God. Grace persuades them that they are nothing. That is a message they do not want to hear.

Moses puts a veil over his face, so that the Israelites no longer see the reflection of God’s glory (verses 33-3533When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.34But whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with Him, he would take off the veil until he came out; and whenever he came out and spoke to the sons of Israel what he had been commanded,35the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with Him.). The meaning of this is explained to us in 2 Corinthians 3 by Paul (2Cor 3:7-167But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading [as] it was,8how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?9For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.10For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses [it].11For if that which fades away [was] with glory, much more that which remains [is] in glory.12Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in [our] speech,13and [are] not like Moses, [who] used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away.14But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ.15But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart;16but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.). There Paul applies the veil that Moses puts over his face to the blindness that exists among all those who wish to place themselves under the law.

The law has had a certain glory, but that glory has disappeared because of the glory of Christ. Anyone who still wants to place themselves under the law is blind to the glory of Christ. Such a man has a veil over his heart. If anyone gets an eye for the glory of Christ, that veil is taken away.

Whoever has accepted the Lord Jesus in faith no longer has a veil when he ‘reads Moses’. The phrase “when Moses is read” (2Cor 3:1515But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart;) means “when the Old Testament books written by Moses are read”. For anyone who has come to know Christ, this veil has been destroyed. That also applies to the whole people of Israel in the future. When they return to the Lord, the veil is removed. Then they will discover in the Old Testament that everything is written with the Lord Jesus in mind. That is the “discovery” of the two going to Emmaus and disciples when the Lord Jesus opens their minds (Lk 24:26,44-4626Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”44Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”45Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,46and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day,).

Therefore the believer can now look at the glory of the Lord with an unveiled face (2Cor 3:17-1817Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, [there] is liberty.18But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.). When the veil is gone, we are going to discover things in the Bible for which we have previously been blind. When our eyes have opened, we will enjoy the Old Testament because we read about the Lord Jesus in it. The Holy Spirit would like to tell us about Him on every page of the Bible. The Spirit Who has the Old Testament written down did so to introduce the Lord Jesus in it. The whole Old Testament breathes the Spirit of the Lord Jesus. That is the meaning of “the Lord now is the Spirit” (2Cor 3:1717Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, [there] is liberty.).

People have said after accepting the Lord Jesus as Savior and Lord: “I have received another Bible.” Of course they read the same Bible, but they started to read differently. The Holy Spirit, from the moment they have received the assurance of the forgiveness of sins, has been given the freedom to show them the glory of the Lord Jesus in the Old Testament. The veil has disappeared.

It is now possible to admire with open eyes the glory of the Lord, without even for a moment being afraid. That is an unprecedented privilege. The more we are busy with the Lord Jesus as the One Who is now glorified in heaven, the more it will radiate from us as well. It changes us, so that both God and people will see more and more of the Lord Jesus in us.

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