Friday, May 05, 2023

2023.05.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 34:8–28

Read Exodus 34:8–28

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Moses hurry to do (Exodus 34:8)? What is he the more emboldened to ask now (Exodus 34:9)? Despite what? What did Yahweh make (Exodus 34:10)? To do what? What will the Lord do (Exodus 34:11)? But what must they observe to take heed not to do (Exodus 34:12)? Why? What must Israel do with the inhabitants’ worship paraphernalia (Exodus 34:13)? What can’t such things be used to worship (Exodus 34:14)? What mustn’t they make with whom (Exodus 34:15)? Why not (Exodus 34:15-16)? What mustn’t Israel make (Exodus 34:17, cf. Exodus 20:4)? What must they keep (Exodus 34:18, Exodus 12:14–28)? What else must they do (Exodus 34:18-20, cf. Exodus 13:11–16, Exodus 22:29–30)? And what else (Exodus 34:21, cf. Exodus 20:9, Exodus 23:12)?  And what else (Exodus 34:22, cf. Exodus 23:14–16)? How often (Exodus 34:23, cf. Exodus 23:17)? What will Yahweh do (Exodus 34:24)? What mustn’t they do (Exodus 34:25, cf. Exodus 23:18)? And what else (Exodus 34:26, cf. Exodus 23:19)? What does He now tell Moses to do (Exodus 34:27)? How long was Moses with Yahweh (Exodus 34:28, cf. Exodus 24:18)? What didn’t Moses do? But what did Yahweh do?

What does the Lord do for His people in His forgiveness? Exodus 34:8–28 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-one verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that in His forgiveness, the Lord restores His people as if they had never sinned. 

Moses has seen (heard!) Yahweh’s glory (cf. Exodus 34:1–7). Just as we have seen previously (cf. Exodus 33:12–23), the Lord’s Word provokes him to prayer that is in accordance with that Word. At the climax of proclaiming Himself to Moses, the Lord had described Himself as “forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:7). 

Now Moses responds with worship both by the action in Exodus 34:8 and by the follow-up in prayer in Exodus 34:9. He builds off of the “found grace in Your sight” language of Exodus 33:12, Exodus 33:13, Exodus 33:16, Exodus 33:17. Then he asks that the Lord would go among them, which has been the primary request throughout most of chapter 33. 

Finally, the Lord’s proclamation of Himself has given Moses encouragement to pray this. Though they are indeed a stiff-necked people (Exodus 34:9, cf. Exodus 33:3, Exodus 33:5), Moses has learned that Who God is may overrule who they are. For He is a God Who pardons iniquity and sin (Exodus 34:9, cf. Exodus 34:7). There must be a great sacrifice indeed, for the Lord leaves nothing unpunished (verse 7b). But if God is going to take any men at all as His inheritance, it must be by His forgiveness.

What follows is a series of promises and commandments that all come from the substance of the Lord’s previous dealings and covenant with Israel. The verb for “make” a covenant in Exodus 34:10 is actually a participle, describing God Himself as the One Who has cut this covenant. He promises to do wonders (verse 10), just as He had previously done in Egypt; the way that He gives them the land will continue to declare that Israel is His people. 

The prohibition against covenanting with or sparing the people of the land (Exodus 34:11-16) is originally from the Book of the Covenant (cf. Exodus 23:32–33). The prohibition against fashioning gods (Exodus 34:17) is a repetition from the ten commandments (cf. Exodus 20:4) and the emphasis upon this commandment that immediately followed (cf. Exodus 20:23). It’s also exactly the place in which they had so greatly offended in chapter 32. He then repeats (Exodus 34:18) the Passover commands of Exodus 12:2–20 in almost exactly the same words as used in the Book of the Covenant in Exodus 23:15. In Exodus 34:19-20, He repeats the command to redeem the firstborn, which was also from the Exodus (cf. Exodus 13:11–16) and had been reiterated in the Book of the Covenant (Exodus 22:29–30). Then he repeats the Sabbath commandment (Exodus 34:21, cf. Exodus 20:9) with the same connections to the ceremonial calendar as in the Book of the Covenant (Exodus 34:22-24; cf. Exodus 23:12–17). Just as in the Book of the Covenant, this is immediately followed by the regulations concerning offering with leaven, leaving anything until morning, offering the firstfruits, and boiling a kid in its mother’s milk (Exodus 34:25-26, cf. Exodus 23:18–19). 

So, when Yahweh says, “write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel” (Exodus 34:27), He is referring not only to the particular selections from the Book of the Covenant that have been repeated here. These selections represent the whole of what has gone before. The Lord is basically saying that He is reinstituting the entire covenant. By the providence of Exodus 34:28, the Spirit confirms this for us. It is a repetition of Exodus 24:18. The Lord is giving Israel a do-over as if the calf incident had never happened!

If the Lord never leaves the guilty unpunished, how can He restore Israel like this? Why can He do it for you?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for Your longsuffering and mercy and grace. Thank You for forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin by punishing our guilt upon Yourself in the Lord Jesus Christ. Forgive us our sin, and restore us as if we had never sinned at all, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH276 “Jesus Paid It All”

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