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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

Exodus 34

Verses 1-35

Chapter 34

And the Lord said unto Moses, Cut out two tables of stone, hew them out like the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which you broke. 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. 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 the mount. So Moses hewed out the two tables of stone like 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. And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by [Now the Jehovah Witnesses think the name is Jehovah but other evidence seems to point to Yahweh, "The Lord passed by".] before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation ( Exodus 34:1-7 ).

Now there are people who try to say that there is a God of the Old Testament, and a God of the New Testament. "And the God of the Old Testament, is a God of wrath, and judgment, but I love the God of the New Testament who is forgiving, and gracious and kind." They see actually two Gods, the God of the Old Testament, the God of the New.

But in the Old Testament you will find very much concerning the character of God as far as His graciousness, as far as His mercy. Here we find God declaring Himself to Moses as merciful, gracious, longsuffering, abundant in goodness and truth, keeping the mercy for thousands, and forgiving the iniquities and transgressions. And so surely tremendous declarations of God's grace, God's mercy, God's forgiveness, God's goodness, God's truth. People who seem to think that the God of the New Testament is all love and forgiveness, and the abrogating of the capital punishment and all of this, had better read the book of Revelation, and they'll find out that He is also a God of judgment, and a God of wrath that shall come and be visited.

Grace and truth were demonstrated in Jesus Christ, but to those who reject that grace and truth, as Hebrews tells us, "There remains then a fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God that will devour His adversaries. For they who despised Moses' law were put to death in the mouth of two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, he could be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and who hath counted the blood of His covenant, wherewith He was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite to the spirit of grace? For it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God"( Hebrews 10:27-29 , Hebrews 10:31 ). That wasn't the prophet Isaiah thundering out, that was the writer of the book of Hebrews declaring the judgment of God that shall come upon those who have rejected His grace, and His mercy, through Jesus Christ.

So in the Old Testament we have a God of grace and mercy, and longsuffering and forgiveness revealed to us. In the New Testament we have a God of judgment and wrath revealed to us. They are one in the same God. There isn't a God of the Old Testament, and a different God of the New. People only read in it what they want to read, but in reality He is revealed in both Testaments as gracious, and loving and kind, and merciful, and forgiving and in both Testaments as a God of judgment and wrath, by no means clearing the guilty; that is, without there being repentance. God doesn't just say to a person, "Well, that's all right, you're forgiven." Jesus emphasized over and over, "unless you repent, you will likewise perish".

People are troubled with the fact that it declares, "visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children to the third and the fourth generation." That is clarified a little bit more in the commandments that God gave, for it there adds, "to those that continue in them."

Now it is sad that the sins of the parents are visited upon the children. We see this demonstrated all the time. It is tragic indeed that really the real victims of divorce are the children. I can go into the classrooms here at Maranatha Academy and sit and observe in one day, and at the end of the day I can tell you each child that comes from a broken home, just by watching the characteristics within the child. Children become the innocent victims because their parents aren't able to soften their hearts before God and each other enough to make the marriage work. It's tragic but there are so much pressures, so many pressures being placed upon the home today. Divorce has become such an easy thing. There are all kinds of pressures that have been placed upon the home, and love has been made out to be something that it really isn't. I get so tired of hearing them say, "Well, I just don't love them anymore." An unwillingness, a hardness of the heart, and an unwillingness to see that the marriage goes. The children have to suffer because of the sins of the parents.

There are even worse cases of children suffering for the sins of the parent, for there are parents who are-mothers who are addicted to drugs. And when their child is born, it is born with an addiction to drugs. Many children go into withdrawals after birth because of the mother having been hooked on particular drugs. There, the sins of the parents being visited upon the children.

Taking it from a sociological standpoint, and a psychological standpoint there are people today who are having a hard time making it in life because their parents were so totally messed up. So many young girls having extreme emotional difficulties because their stupid fathers were abusing them sexually. Surely the scripture describes the days in which we live when it refers to "unnatural affections". For any father to make any kind of a sexual advance towards his daughter, something's got to be sick, sick, sick. Because what he is doing is psychologically destroying that daughter of his.

There are so many of the young girls who come in with tremendous problems of adjusting to life because of the stupidity of their dads. Not just-I can't, in my wildest imagination, I cannot imagine a father abusing his own daughter, or even being attracted to his own daughter in a sexual way. That is so absolutely sick I can't even think of it. Yet what perhaps, well it's not even any worse, but fathers that abuse their own sons. It's just plain sick. You cannot do that to a child without marking the child, without damaging the child psychologically, putting psychic scars upon that child's mind that's gonna be with him the rest of his life.

Thank God for the power of the blood of Jesus Christ; it's the only thing that I know that can straighten up the mess that people's minds are in because of some of the stupid things their parents did. If it weren't for the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the world would be in a much greater mess than it is today, because people are doing such absolutely foolish things in destroying their own children.

Oh how glorious it is that we can come to Jesus Christ and receive that beautiful work of His Holy Spirit and He can absolutely cleanse, and clear. "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature and the old things are passed away, and every thing becomes new"( 1 Corinthians 5:13 ). You can enter into a totally new, beautiful life in Christ, and only He can erase the psychic scars that so damaged some of you from your childhood and the things that you experienced in childhood.

There are many young adults today that cannot even remember years of their childhood because their minds have blocked them out. Their relationship with the parents was just so off the wall that their minds just block out years of their childhood and they can't even tell you about areas of their childhood because the psychic wounds are so great that they just-they've had to build a wall and they just blocked it out. They have-it's just hid and suppressed and lying dormant underneath there.

So it is true, it is tragically true that often the sins of the parents are visited upon the children. That they become the innocent victims of their parents' folly. Thank God there's always a way out, there's always-God has provided a way out through the blood of Jesus Christ that can wash, and cleanse us. But if it isn't there, then it'll go on and it passes from generation to generation.

You'll find that in your psychology and in your sociological studies that the-that a person gets his role for parenthood from his parents. So if their dads were guilty of doing a stupid thing, they'll usually follow that because that's the role model that they had. Unless Jesus Christ comes into their life, unless there comes that change through the power of the gospel, they follow the role model and it goes down from generation to generation to generation. We see the degraded society around us today that is in such desperate need of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, to deliver us out of the cesspool and the pits, and to raise us up.

Oh, how I thank God for the godly home in which I was raised. How I thank God that both of my parents were committed Christians. On the list of blessings that God has given to me, I'll tell you that's the-near the top of the list that godly home that I had. How I thank God for it more and more, especially as I see people who-my heart goes out to them, they've never had a chance to know what a real loving home is all about, a real godly home is all about.

Moses made haste, and he bowed his head towards the earth, and he worshipped. [God passed by and declared His name, declared His glory. Moses, man just got down on his face and began to worship God.] 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 your inheritance ( Exodus 34:8-9 ).

Now that's asking God for an awful lot. "Now Lord, I've seen Your glory. You've passed by me, declared Your name, now Lord go ahead and pass among the people, pardon their sin; and take us for Your inheritance." Now that's the part that I have, "Here God, You can have me for Your inheritance." "Take this stiffnecked people for Your inheritance." Yet the Bible declares, Paul the apostle prayed for the Ephesians that they might know what are the riches of His inheritance in the saints. What he is saying is, "If you only knew how much God valued you."

Now Moses is just saying that, "Lord, take these people, put the value on them as Your inheritance." If you only knew the high value God placed upon you, you'd be amazed, if you knew how highly God prized you. He prized you so highly that He sent His Son to die for your sins so that He could have you for His own. That's how high God prizes you. He delivered up His own Son for you because He prizes you that much. I cannot understand it, don't ask me to explain it.

Here is the place where I, as a devout Jew, though I am not a Jew, but as a devout Jew who's just comes to that place where he bows his head and says nothing, when I think of how God has placed such a high value on my life. All I can do is just bow my head and worship in wonder and in awe, that God should love me, and care for me, and place value in me so much that He would give His Son for my redemption. Oh how I thank God and praise God for the value that He's placed upon my life.

So the Lord said to Moses, 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 in all the people among whom thou [shalt, among whom thou] art shall see the work of the Lord: for it is an awesome [The word terrible is an old English word, should be translated "awesome"] thing that I will do with thee. Observe thou that which I command thee this day ( Exodus 34:10-11 ):

Now God is saying, "Observe it, not just see it". There's a difference between seeing and observing, and God isn't saying, "see the things I command you, but observe", that is see and live in harmony with it.

behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Hittite, Perizzite, Hivite, and Jebusite. Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God ( Exodus 34:11-14 ):

Now there are people who have difficulty with God demanding the extermination of the people within the land. No covenant was to be made with them, no peace treaty. "Go in and utterly wipe them out." With this, people have a great difficulty with God because of His orders to wipe them out, to exterminate them. God is oftentimes faulted. As people are arguing about God, God is faulted for the order of the extermination and not making covenants with these people. God ordered their idols to be cut, to be destroyed, their groves to be cut down. What were they doing in their groves? What were they doing at the high places? How were they worshiping their gods?

If you go into the Museum of Natural History in Jerusalem, and you go downstairs, in one area you will find diggings from the archeologists of the pre-Israel culture from the Canaanite period. In one of the cases you will see many of the little gods that were representing Baal. As you see these little gods that are representations, or were representations to the people of Baal, you'll see that Baal's arms are always folded, and the hands in an upright position like this. They are made of iron; they are made of stone. They would place these in the fire and heat them until they became- until the iron became red hot. And then they would take their babies and place them in the arms of Baal and allow them to be burned to death as they sacrificed unto this little idol. Human sacrifice was commonly practiced, as well as all kinds of licentious practices.

Now by the very nature of their worship they would soon destroy themselves. They could not exist. No society can exist that is that corrupted. So they are going to destroy themselves. But if they are allowed to make a covenant and live among the people, they will infect God's people with this same deadly corruption. So God is ordering their extermination in order to keep His own people protected from their madness.

If we were to hire you here as a lunchtime monitor for the school, and as you were out there watching these beautiful little children that we have here at our academy, and you were watching them playing out there in the yard, and skipping and chasing around and all, and there was to come upon the yard a dog foaming at the mouth, running around and snapping at the children, would you be justified in going over and grabbing that dog and killing it? You bet your life you would. And I love dogs, but the dog has rabies. Because it has rabies, it's gonna die. The rabies are gonna kill the dog. But if I don't kill it, that mad dog can actually kill a lot of these beautiful, innocent little children. If I do nothing to stop it, if I do nothing to hinder it, that little dog could actually kill a lot of the children on the playground, infect them so that they also would die. So I would be thoroughly justified in killing that dog so that it would not infect the innocent children and destroy them. No one would really fault me for it because they know a rabid dog is gonna die anyhow.

You've got the same thing, only it isn't a dog, it's people and they've got a deadly infection in their whole religious system. God ordering their extermination; they're gonna die anyhow, they're gonna destroy themselves. He's only protecting the innocent children that He's bringing in to inherit the land, His children. He's only watching over them. Thus God has given the order of extermination to protect His own innocent children. They're not to make any covenant because, verse fifteen,

Because if you 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 calls to you, to eat of his sacrifice; And you 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. Thou shalt make thee no molten images ( Exodus 34:15-17 ).

Now there are all kinds of molten images in the land of Canaan. "Thou shalt make thee no molten images."

The feast [Now God lays out the various feasts that they were to have, the three feasts, "the feast",] of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. [This is a feast of Passover.] For seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, [Verse nineteen] All that openeth the matrix is mine; [So the first born of everything belongs to God.] of your cattle, ox, sheep, all of the first born male. But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if you do not redeem him, then you shall break his neck. All of the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty ( Exodus 34:18-20 ).

Now your first born son, you had to redeem from God. He belonged to God automatically. You see the first born son used to always be the priest of the house, he belonged to God. Now that God has a priesthood through the tribe of Levi, if you want to keep your first born son, then you had to redeem him from God.

Six days shalt thou work, but the seventh day shall be a day of rest: even in the harvest time and in the earing time thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, [that is] the first of the wheat harvest ( Exodus 34:21-22 ),

In June, fifty days after Passover, after seven weeks after Passover, then the next day began-seven weeks would be forty-nine days. The next day, the fiftieth day would begin the Passover, which was the first fruits of the winter, wheat harvest, as they began to harvest it there in Israel in the first part of June. Then it was sort of a Thanksgiving.

and the feast of ingathering at the year's end. [So that's sort of equivalent to our Thanksgiving in the fall time of the year.] Now three times in a year shall all your men children appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel ( Exodus 34:22-23 ).

You know, that would be such a glorious thing if you had a religious nation. You know, a nation who was really committed unto God. It would be a glorious thing that three times a year all the men in the nation would have to come and stand before God in this time of worship and so forth. That would be absolutely glorious. So three times a year they were to appear before God, the God of Israel.

For I will cast out the nations before thee, enlarge your borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the Lord thy God thrice in the year. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; [Leaven is a type of sin.] neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto morning. The first of the firstfruits of the land ( Exodus 34:24-26 )

Notice, "the first of the firstfruits" is what God demands from you, not the leftovers. "Well, we'll see if we have enough left for ourselves, and if we have enough we'll give it to God." No way. "The first of the firstfruits of thy land."

thou shalt bring unto the house of the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not seethe kid in his mother's milk. [It was a part of the practice for the land to increase fertility they thought.] 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. And he was there with the Lord for forty days and forty nights; and he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the ten commandments ( Exodus 34:26-28 ).

You say, "Well, that's impossible. You can't go forty days and forty nights without food or water." That is very true; it is impossible if you're only dealing with natural things. How big is your God? God was able to sustain him without food, without water. Thus, though physically it is an impossibility, we are dealing with a God of miraculous power and God who can set aside certain laws of nature.

Now I don't recommend that you try and go forty days and forty nights without water or food. Can't go more than nine days without water; we'll dehydrate and die. Yet Moses was able to, only by the sustaining hand and power of God. It's a miracle that he could do it. I believe that it happened because the Bible declares that it happened. I have no problem with a God who is able to work miracles. I would have problems with any god that couldn't work miracles.

"And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant the Ten commandments."

And it came to pass, when Moses came down from the mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses knew not that the skin of his face was shining while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all of the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face was shining; and they were afraid to come near him. And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them. And afterward all the children of Israel came near: and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him in mount Sinai. And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. But when Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out. And when he would come out, and speak with the children of Israel that which was commanded. The children of Israel saw the face of Moses, the skin of Moses' face it was shining: and Moses put the veil upon his face again, until he went to speak with the Lord ( Exodus 34:29-35 ).

So he would veil his face when he would go out and talk with the children of Israel, because he would have this shining on his face. When he'd go before the Lord he'd take the veil off.

Now twice in the New Testament this veil is mentioned there in a couple of different ways. Number one, why the veil over the face of Moses? Because it was hard to look at his shining face? No.

In Corinthians we are told that the reason for the veil over his face is so that they would not see the shining go away, fading. But the fact that the shine was fading away from his face, was indicating the fact that the law that God was given was to fade away when God established the new covenant with man through Jesus Christ. So that they would not see the fading away of the old covenant, his face was veiled.

But Paul goes on to say, "But even today their faces are still veiled when it comes to the word of God." They can't see the truth of God in Jesus Christ. They still have that veil over their face as God seeks to speak to them today, and they cannot see that Jesus Christ is indeed the Messiah that God had promised to the nation Israel. So the veil still over their eyes, not being able to behold the truth of Jesus Christ. "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Exodus 34". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.