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The covenant re-established (34:1-35)
When the people first swore their faithfulness to the covenant, they promised to keep all its requirements (see 24:3-8), but in practice they failed badly. God in his grace would renew the covenant, and to this end he called Moses back up the mountain. His fresh revelation to Moses therefore emphasized his love and mercy, but it also reminded the people of his righteous justice. Moses, painfully aware of the Israelites’ weakness, appealed to the grace of God, asking that he would still dwell among them and own them as his people in spite of their stubbornness (34:1-9).
God then renewed his covenant, promising Israel provision and protection. He would cause the world to be amazed at the greatness of his power as he drove out nation after nation to give his people the land he had promised them (10-11). He sternly warned his people against copying, or even tolerating, heathen religious practices in their new land. This warning was particularly appropriate in view of recent events in the worship of the golden idol. To forsake God and follow other religious ideas would be spiritual adultery, compared to the unfaithfulness of a woman who leaves her husband for another man (12-17).
Accompanying the renewal of the covenant was a command to the people never to forget their deliverance from Egypt. Therefore, they were to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread and maintain the practice of redeeming their firstborn (18-20; see 12:15-36; 13:1-16). Also specifically mentioned was the obligation to keep the weekly Sabbath and the annual festivals (21-24; see 23:12-17). Additional reminders concerned requirements for sacrifices and firstfruits (25-26; see 23:18-19).
God then made a declaration that the covenant Israel had broken was now re-established. Though the account is brief, Moses was with God on the mountain for about six weeks, as on the previous occasion (27-28; cf. 24:18).
Moses’ appearance was so changed through his meeting with God, that he covered his face with a cloth when speaking to the people. The man who met God was unaware of his glory till others told him of it; by contrast, the people who had easily fallen into sin were afraid when they met one who appeared to them as a shining messenger from God (29-35; cf. 2 Corinthians 3:7-18).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Exodus 34". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19