Exodus 34: Lessons About God’s Character and His Desires for Your Life

Introduction: In Exodus Chapter 34, God showed His grace by restoring His Covenant with His people. Through God’s conversation with Moses, He reveals seven facts about both His character and His desire for every believer to stay in a Covenant relationship with Him.

First, through His offer to renew His Covenant with His sinful people, He reveals that He is a God of second chances. Although there are consequences to sin, He will always give you another chance when you repent and turn back to Him. Second, through the revelation that God gives regarding the many meanings behind His name, He reveals that He is slow to anger, quick to forgive, but will eventually judge sin. Thus, Christians should never misuse His mercy and grace as a license to sin. Third, through the example of God’s agreement to Moses’ intercessory prayers, He reveals that He is faithful even when we are not (2 Tim. 2:13). He also reveals that He desires our prayers. Fourth, to show gratitude for His deliverance from bondage, God wants you to make no provision or accommodation for the things of the flesh that will place you back into bondage. Fifth, to show your love and gratitude toward God, He wants you to celebrate His holy days voluntarily and not out of obligation. In the New Testament, we are freed from any obligation to observe these days. But these holy days all point to Jesus and give us opportunities to celebrate different things that He either has done or will for you. Sixth, to keep yourself out of bondage, God also wants you to become a slave to righteousness. Among other things, He wants you to strive to live without sin as a “living sacrifice” for Him (Ro. 12:1). Finally, through the example of Moses living off God’s Word for 40 days and then glowing from God’s Shikina glory, He wants you to be a light to others by consuming His Word every day.

1. God is the God of Second Chances. Ex. 34:1-4.

  • God’s offer to renew His Covenant with His people. After Moses prayed for God to spare the Jews for building the golden calf, God showed that He is a God of second chances by offering to carve again the Covenant of the Ten Commandments on stone tablets: “Now 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. So 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. No 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.’” So 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.” (Ex. 34:1-4; same, Dt. 10:1-3). God does not want any to perish (2 Pet. 3:9). He sent Jesus so that all the “world might be saved through Him.” (Jo. 3:17). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jo. 1:9). God forgives you not just one or twice, but at least “seventy times seven” times. You must do the same with others who have hurt you (Matt. 18:21-22). Are you showing gratitude toward God for your multiple second chances?

Moses cut two tablets for God to again provide the Ten Commandments1

  • We all need God’s second chances because none can keep the Law. God warned Moses to return to Mount Sinai / Horeb alone to receive the Ten Commandments (Ex. 34:3; 19:12). By contrast, the first time God allowed Moses to bring Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders part of the way up. The leaders previously promised to do all that God had asked (Ex. 24:3). But God showed them that they could never fully keep His Law (Ro. 3:10; Gal. 2:16; 3:11; Ps. 14:1; 53:1; Hab. 2:4). His Law was designed in part to shine a light on the sin within mankind’s hearts (Ro. 3:20). Are you faithfully reading God’s Word so that the Holy Spirit can expose the hidden sins in your heart?

  • The Covenant of the Ten Commandment remains, but not as a test for salvation. In commenting upon these verses, Matthew Henry observed: “Though Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, yet not from the commands of it.” Thankfully, the Ten Commandments are not a test for salvation. If they were, none could obtain salvation. But they remain as God’s standard for moral living where He can pour out His blessings on earth (Lev. 26:1-13; Dt. 28:1-14). While God wrote the Ten Commandments for Moses on stone tablets, He writes them on our hearts so that the Holy Spirit may guide us (2 Cor. 3:1-3). When you disregard the Ten Commandments, you live outside God’s protections. Moreover, you expose yourself with few protections to the enemy’s attacks.

2. God is Slow to Anger, Quick to Forgive, but Will Eventually Judge Sin. Ex. 34:5-7.

  • The seven Holy characteristics of God revealed through His holy name. After agreeing to restore His Covenant with His people, God revealed His holy character to Moses by explaining seven meanings behind His holy name (“Jehovah”): “The Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord. Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, [1] compassionate and [2] gracious, [3] slow to anger, and abounding in [4] lovingkindness and [5] truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, [6] who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; [7] 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.”’ (Ex. 34:5-7). “But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.” (Ps. 86:15; 103:8; 116:5). God has no less than 21 names in the Old Testament. Each one reveals something about His holy character. His name “YHVH” reveals God’s unchanging love for mankind. In the same way, Jesus’ love for us never changes (Heb. 13:8). He is slow to anger and quick to forgive because He wants all to come to repentance: “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Ro. 2:4). When you have sinned and repented, are you trusting God to forgive you? Or, are you misusing God’s mercy as a license to sin?

Give thanks for God’s compassion, mercy, grace, love, and faithfulness2

  • God’s glory was manifest in His forgiveness. “The cloud mentioned was no doubt the cloud of glory known as the Shekinah. This cloud is mentioned many times in the Bible. · It covered Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:16). · It went with Israel by day (Exodus 13:21-22). · It stood at the tent of Moses (Exodus 33:9-10). · It filled Solomon’s temple with glory (2 Chronicles 7:2). · It overshadowed Mary at the conception of Jesus (Luke 1:35). · It was present at the transfiguration of Jesus (Luke 9:34-35). · It will be present at the return of Jesus (Revelation 1:7).” (David Guzik on Exodus 34).3

  • Reversing the generational curse. God warns that He will punish the iniquity of the fathers on their children to the fourth generation (Ex. 34:7; 20:5; Dt. 5:9). Because God is just, He cannot ignore sin forever (1 Pet. 4:17). Yet, He promises that no person will die for another person’s sin: “Instead, everyone will die for their own sin; whoever eats sour grapes—their own teeth will be set on edge.” (Jer. 31:30). He also promised to send the Messiah to die for our sins (Is. 53:4-5). Through Christ, God is always ready to reverse an intergenerational curse the moment His people repent and turn back to Him: “My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chr. 7:14). Thus, through prayer and repentance you can lift any curse that your parents or grandparents may have brought upon your family. Are you praying for those around you who still may be living under an intergenerational curse?

3. God is Faithful Even When We are Not. Ex. 34:8-10.

  • God’s agreement to restore His Covenant after Moses’ intercessory prayers. After showing His holy character to Moses, God revealed in response to Moses’ prayers that He would fully restore His Covenant with His people: “Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship. He 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.’ 10 Then 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.’” (Ex. 34:8-10). God’s response shows that He is faithful to us even when we are not faithful to Him: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13; 1 Cor. 1:9). “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;” (Dt. 7:9; Nu. 23:19). Has your own sin caused you to doubt God’s faithfulness to keep His promises to you? If so, that is the enemy seeking to deceive you.

  • God also desires your prayers. Moses showed himself to be a model prayer warrior. None of his prayer was focused on his own needs. There are many examples in the Bible where God spared others from judgment after intercessory prayer (e.g., Ex. 32:11-14; Nu. 11:2; 14:18-22; 16:21-24). Are you faithfully praying for those around you?

Moses prayed as an intercessor for God’s people4

4. God Wants You to Make No Accommodation with the Lusts of the Flesh. Ex. 34:11-17.

  • God’s instruction to “smash” the pagan altars and pillars. After renewing His Covenant with His people, God directed His people to take steps to keep themselves out of bondage. This included destroying anything within the Promised Land that might draw them off their walk with Him: “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. 12 Watch 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. 13 But 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— 15 otherwise 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, 16 and 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. 17 You shall make for yourself no molten gods.’” (Ex. 34:11-17). Forty years later, God repeated this commandment two more times in the book of Deuteronomy: “But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire. For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” (Dt. 7:5-6). “You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods and obliterate their name from that place.” (Dt. 12:1-3). Later, King Manasseh ignored these warnings and placed an “Asherah” pole inside God’s Holy Temple (2 Kgs. 21:7). “Asherah” poles related to the Canaanite worship of their fertility goddess Asherah, the consort of their god Ba’al. King Manasseh was ensnared by pagan idols of the flesh. The merger of contradictory religious practices is called “syncretism.” Like the Jews, Christians must avoid accommodating these idols of the flesh in their lives. Are you filling your mind with unholy things like pornography? If so, Satan will eventually ensnare you (Ro. 1:21-25).

  • God also meant for you to be salt and light in this world. Like the Jews, you were also meant to be God’s salt and His instrument against sin in the world around you: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” (Matt. 5:13). Salt was a preservative in that time to keep meat from rotting. Without our prayers and our actions to keep society pure, it will rot in its sins. Salt is also a symbol of judgment. Lot’s wife was turned into salt (Gen. 19:26). Salt was also scattered on destroyed cities to destroy crops (Dt. 29:23; Jud. 9:45; Ps. 137:34; Jer. 17:5-6; 48:9; Zeph. 2:9). God meant for the Church to be His agent against sin (Ro. 13:4). Are you actively praying for the world around you and voting for God-fearing leaders?

  • Accommodating the idols of the flesh brings fellowship with demons. Just as communion can bring fellowship with Christ, allowing the idols of the flesh (alcohol, drugs, pornography, prostitution, money, or greed) to take control of your life brings fellowship with demons: “they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.” (1 Cor. 10:19-20). Are you accommodating things in your life that will bring you into fellowship with demons?

5. God Wants You to Observe His Holy Days, But Not Out Obligation. Ex. 34:18-24.

  • God’s commandment to observe the Feast of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits. To show gratitude to God for their deliverance, God appointed certain holy days for the people to come and worship Him. This includes a one-week festival during the Spring that included the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of First Fruits: “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. 20 You 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.” (Ex. 34:18-19; Ex. 12:12-46; Nu. 28:16- 25; Dt. 16:1-8). Passover was the first of three Feasts that happened over one week beginning at sundown on the day of the first new moon after the spring equinox. The lunar month was called either Nisan or Abib (Ex. 12:2; Dt. 16:1). The purpose of the Passover was to remember that, during the tenth plague, the shed blood of the lamb allowed each family who acted in faith to have death “pass over” their firstborn son (Ex. 12:12-13, 22-23). Jesus was the Passover lamb who allowed judgment to pass over us (Isa. 53:7; Jo. 1:29; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). The Passover lamb could have no broken bones (Ex. 12:46). Jesus also died without any broken bones (Jo. 19:32-36). The “people of the community of Israel” slaughtered the lamb (Ex. 12:46). The “people of the community” of Israel also demanded that Jesus be put to death (Matt. 27:17, 20-22, 25). Daniel foretold the exact year that the Messiah would be “cut off” 483 years before Jesus’ death (Dan. 9:24-26 – “69 weeks” with each “day” representing 7 years). Jesus was the Passover sacrifice who died at the predicted time and in the required sacrificial manner. If you are thankful for what Jesus did, this is the appointed time to give thanks.

  • The Feast of Unleavened Bread / Jesus’ time in the grave. The quick departure of the Jews did not afford the time required to bake leavened bread (Ex. 12:34, 39). To celebrate God’s deliverance, the Jews celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread over seven days (Dt. 16:3-4, 8). No yeast was used because leaven is a symbol of sin (1 Cor. 5:6-8; Gal. 5:9). The “matzo” or bread was also without yeast (which normally adds to the taste) to remind the Jews of their “affliction” while in bondage (Dt. 16:3). For the Jews, the bread without yeast over seven days symbolized an attempt to make a break from the sins in their past. It also symbolized the importance of acting quickly upon God’s calling in one’s life. Jesus was in the grave during part of this festival. Through Christ, you are freed from your old sins. If you are thankful for your freedom, this is God’s appointed time to show it by breaking from the things that have caused you to sin.

  • The Feast of First Fruits/ Jesus’ resurrection. On the 17th of Nisan, God also saved the Jews at the Red Sea (Ex. 3:18; 5:3, 14). To thank God, the Jews brought their “first fruits” or their best of their barley harvest to Him (Ex. 34:19). On this day, Jesus also rose from the grave and became the “first fruits” of His believers (1 Cor. 15:20). Out of gratitude, are you giving Jesus the “first fruits” of your time, talent, and treasure?

  • God’s commandment to give Him one day a week. God also commanded that the His people reserve one day out of the week to rest from labor and honor Him: “21 You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during plowing time and harvest you shall rest.” (Ex. 34:21; Ex. 23:12-13). The Sabbath is the Fourth Commandment (Ex. 20:8-11; 31:13-17; Dt. 5:12-16). Christ came to fulfill the law (Matt. 5:17). Through Christ, your legal obligations to observe the Sabbath were “nailed to the cross.” (Col. 2:14, 16-17; Gal. 4:10-11). You also have the freedom to observe a day to honor God any day of the week (Ro. 14:5-6). Yet, although not required, there are several reasons to observe a voluntary Sabbath. First, observing the Sabbath (along with the other Commandments) is a sign of your love for Christ (Jo. 14:15, 21; 15:10; Matt. 19:17; 1 Jo. 2:3; 5:3; 2 Jo. 1:6). Second, the Sabbath also allows God’s people to “refresh themselves.” (Ex. 23:12). Third, keeping a holy Sabbath allows time to worship and study God’s Word. Fourth, if your church is properly structured, keeping a holy Sabbath can bring fellowship and accountability (Heb. 10:24-25). Sixth, Jesus healed others during the Sabbath (e.g., Matt. 12:9-21; Mk. 3:1-6; Lk. 6:6-11; 13:10-17; 14:1; Jo. 5:1-18). His point was that a holy Sabbath should include volunteering and helping others. Jesus never meant to turn the day into a day for hedonism. Finally, keeping a holy Sabbath allows you to receive a blessing from God. For those who spend the Sabbath seeking after God, He promises a “great delight”. (Is. 58:13-14). He also promises to “bless” you (Is. 56:2, 5-7). Although you are under no legal obligation to observe a Sabbath, why turn down God’s offer to bless and restore you?

  • God’s commandment to observe Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. God also commanded that the Jews honor Him during the second feast called the Feast of Weeks (which corresponds with Pentecost) and the Feast of Tabernacles: “22 You 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. 23 Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel. 24 For 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.’” (Ex. 34:22-24).

  • The Feast of Weeks/ Shavuot (Pentecost). Exactly 50 days after God saved His people from death at the Red Sea, He revealed His will for their lives through the Ten Commandments (Ex. 19:20-25; 20:1-21; 34:22; Lev. 23:15-17; Nu. 28:26-31; Dt. 16:9-10). This became the “Feast of Weeks” or “Shavuot”. It happened on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan, ranging from mid-May to early June. This was also the birth date of modern Judaism. The Ten Commandments made up God’s wedding contract with His bride. The Jews remember the day by committing to serving God. They remember that they previously made a vow to Him (Ex. 19:8). But they broke their vow when they then built and worshiped the golden calf (Ex. 32:1-6). For Christians, the wedding contract has not been finalized. Before Jesus left, He promised that He would leave us with a Helper to teach us His will (Jo. 14:26). Exactly 50 days after Jesus’ death, God revealed His will for our lives by pouring out the Holy Spirit unto His believers (Acts 2:3). This day was also the birth date of the Church. Because Shavuot occurs 50 days after Passover, Hellenistic Jews and later Christians gave it the name “Pentecost”, which in Greek means the “fiftieth day.” If you are grateful for God’s Ten Commandments or the Holy Spirit, this is God appointed to celebrate and give thanks.

  • God’s requirement that believers observe Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. Dt. 16:13-17; Ex. 23:16; 25:8; 34:22; 29:44-45; Lev. 23:33-43, Nu. 29:12-40; 31:10-13. Sukkot was the last of God’s holy days. This festival lasted eight days and began on the 15th day of the month of “Tishrei”. (Lev. 23:39). It was the most joyful of all. It celebrated when God came to dwell or “tabernacle” amongst us (Ex. 25:8; Dt. 16:13-15). It also foreshadowed both when Christ dwelled with us and when He will again “tabernacle” with us during His Millennial reign. This Feast celebrates God. It is a “perpetual statute throughout your generation. . . ” (Lev. 23:41). Although not required (Col. 2:16-17), believers have several reasons to give thanks during this holy week. First, at this time, the Jews gave thanks that God dwelt with them (Ex. 40:34). This is the appointed time to give thanks that Jesus dwells in you and gives you a new life. This is also a time to give thanks that you will dwell with Him in heaven (Rev. 22:5). Second, the Jews used this as an opportunity to celebrate their freedom. Indentured servants and debts were freed on this day (Dt. 15:1-3). This is an opportunity to give thanks that Jesus freed you from bondage to sin. Third, the Jews celebrated that God provided for them food in the wilderness. This is an opportunity to celebrate Jesus’ provision for you (Matt. 6:25-34). Fourth, the Jews celebrated that water of life that God gave them in the wilderness (e.g., Ex. 15:25-27). This is an opportunity to celebrate that Jesus provides “rivers of living water.” (Jo. 7:37-39). Fifth, the Jews celebrated that God was their pillar of light in the wilderness (Ex. 13:21-22; 14:19). This is the time to give thanks that Jesus is the real light of the world (Jo. 8:12). Sixth, this festival normally required a staggering 215 expensive animal sacrifices (Nu. 29:12-39). This is a time to celebrate that Jesus was the one-time sacrifice that freed us from the obligation to sacrifice animals to have our sins forgiven (Heb. 10:14). Finally, if you celebrate this Feast “your God will bless you. . .” (Dt. 16:15). Even if you are not required to observe this feast, is there any reason to turn down God’s offer to bless you?

6. God Wants You to Make Yourself a Living Sacrifice for Him. Ex. 34:25-26.

  • God’s commandment not to offer “leavened” bread. In addition to celebrating God’s holy days, He also wants you to make your life a “living sacrifice” for Him by striving to make a life offering that is free from sin: “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.’” (Ex. 34:25; 23:18). Grain offerings to God generally had to made from “unleavened bread.” (Lev. 2:4, 11; Ex. 12:15; 29:1-3; Nu. 6:15). Leaven is a symbol of sin (1 Cor. 5:6-8; Gal. 5:9). Although Jesus fulfilled the sacrificial laws, believers are told make “spiritual sacrifices” for Him (1 Pet. 2:5). This includes living your life as a “living sacrifice” for Him (Ro. 12:1; Heb. 13:15). Because the Holy Spirit dwells within us (1 Cor. 3:16-17), we must remove the leaven from our bodies: “Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened . . .” (1 Cor. 5:7; 6:13-15; 18-20). Leaven is the baking ingredient that causes bread to rise. One gram of yeast contains 20,000,000,000 (twenty billion) single-celled living micro-organisms. If we leave any hidden sin in our lives, it will rise like leaven in bread. There are also more than 600 different species of yeast are known and they are widely distributed in nature. In the same way, sin takes many forms. Is there any small sin in your life that you have failed to remove? If so, it will not stay hidden for long.

  • To keep our bodies free of sin, we must keep our eyes and minds clean. Jesus once referred to believers as being “mixed with leaven” (Matt. 13:33). He also warns that: “[t]he eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matt. 6:22-23). Are you protecting your eyes from sinful things? If not, you are filling your mind with darkness.

  • Don’t delay in giving your best to God. Another part of making yourself a living sacrifice is acting without delay in giving the best that you have to God: ‘“nor is the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover to be left over until morning.’” (Ex. 34:25(b); 23:18-19). When a person made a peace offering to God out of gratitude, the priest was commanded to eat the offering that same day (Lev. 7:14-15). We are part of God’s “nation of priests.” (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). What God offers for us to consume is Jesus, the Word incarnate (Jo. 1:1,14). By eating Christ’s communion, we signal that we are one with Him. Jesus’ food was to do God the Father’s will: “Jesus said to them, “‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.’” (Jo. 4:34). We are also to find our spiritual food and contentment through doing God’s will. We must also never delay taking what Jesus offers: “But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”’ (Matt. 8:22). By telling the people not to delay until morning, God was telling them not to delay in giving Him the best of their time, talent, and treasure. Have you heard God’s calling but delayed in your response?

  • God’s commandment to offer the “first fruits” of your life. To show your love for God, He also encourages every believer to give the “first fruits” (“bikkurim”) or the best of their life offering to Him: “26 You shall bring the very first of the first fruits of your soil into the house of the Lord your God.’” (Ex. 34:26(a); Lev. 23:17; Dt. 26:1-2; cf. Nu. 15:20). As stated above, Jesus rose from the grave and became the “first fruits” of those who were once dead (1 Cor. 15:20). On several different occasions, God commanded the Jews to tithe on a regular basis (e.g., Lev. 27:30-33; Nu. 18:26-28; Dt. 12:17; 14:28-29; Mal. 3:8-10). Based upon Jacob’s example, the Jews were expected to tithe ten percent of their income (Gen. 28:20-22). At the very beginning of the harvest, a farmer would tie ribbons on the first fruits as they emerged. The marked buds were later given to God when they were ripe. But, unlike the requirements for monetary tithes, the Torah did specify the exact amount of produce that the farmer was required to bring with the first fruit harvest (First Fruits of Zion, the Torah Club, Deuteronomy Vol. 1 p. 794; Vol. 2, (2014) p. 707). This left unanswered questions. Did a farmer need to give a tenth of all fruits to appear or only the fruits that appeared in the beginning? Would the farmer need to mark the fruit that he or she saw during the first day or the first week of the harvest? If the farmer checked every day and only marked the buds observed on the first day, the farmer could minimize the size of his or her “first fruit” tithe. Only God and the farmer would know if the farmer was generous and honest. A farmer would also need to trust God that the first fruits of the harvest would not be the last. Weather, insects, or humans could destroy the crops at any time. Just like the farmer, your giving is an act of trust and faith in God. God wants you to trust Him that He will pay back your tithes (Mal. 3:8-10). Jesus commended the woman who gave out of her poverty as opposed to others who gave only out of their surplus (Lk. 21:1-4). Do you trust God to tithe before you pay for your expenses? Or, are you only tithing from your surplus?

  • God’s commandment to stay sanctified from the unholy practices of the world. Three times in the Torah, God advised “You are not to boil a young goat in the milk of its mother.” (34:26(b); Ex. 23:19(b); Dt. 14:21). In Canaan, if one wished to gain favor with a deity, he or she would slay a young goat in milk and present it to the deity (The Ras Shamra tablets, Archeology and Bible History, by Joseph P. Free. pg 105). Orthodox Jews, however, now interpreted these verses to prohibit serving animal meat with cheese. But this interpretation is incorrect. Abraham once served a meal with meat and cheese (milk and curds) (Gen. 18:7-8). The lesson is not to follow the practices of the world while worshiping God. Are you mixing the things of the world in your worship of God?

7. God Wants You to Be Light to Others By Consuming His Word. Ex. 34:27-35.

  • Moses lived off the Word of God. After revealing both His character and His will for believers to make their lives living sacrifices to Him, God revealed His desire for His people to find fulfillment by consuming His Word on a daily basis. Moses miraculously lived for 40 days on only God’s Word: “27 Then 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.’ 28 So 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.” (Ex. 34:27-28). Like Moses, Jesus went without food for 40 days (Matt. 4:2). When Satan tried to tempt Him, Jesus quoted from the Torah, "It is written, ‘man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” (Matt. 4:4; Dt. 8:3). Jesus is the Word that became flesh that we consume (John 1:14). You could not expect to survive long if you only ate one small snack once a week. In a similar way, you should not expect your spiritual needs to be fulfilled by one Sunday morning sermon snack per week. Are you consuming God’s Word every day?

  • Moses’ face shined from God’s shekinah glory. As a direct result of living off God’s Word, God’s light (His Shekinah glory) glowed off Moses’ face: “29 It 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. 30 So 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. 31 Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers in the congregation returned to him; and Moses spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the sons of Israel came near, and he commanded them to do everything that the Lord had spoken to him on Mount Sinai. 33 When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. 34 But 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, 35 the 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.” (Ex. 34:29-35). Like Moses, God’s light will shine through you when you consume His Word (Matt. 5:14). Yet, just as the Jews feared Moses’ light, many will fear your light because men love darkness (Jo. 1:10; 3:20). “But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.” (2 Cor. 3:14-15). God promises to remove the veil when any turns to Christ: “Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” (2 Cor. 3:16). Are you helping to bring sight to the blind through the light of Christ?

Moses descended a second time with the Ten Commandments5

Moses’ face shined from God’s shekinah glory6

Ferdinand Bol (1616-1680) “Moses' Descent from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments” (painting 1662)7

  • God’s Shekinah glory will one day glow off you as well. Like Moses, Jesus’ face glowed like the sun during the transformation with Moses and Elijah: “And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” (Matt. 17:2). When Jesus comes again on the Day of Judgment, His face will again be light “like the sun.” (Rev. 1:16). That light will one day shine off every believer when they receive new bodies and dwell with Jesus in heaven: “But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? . . . 11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.” (2 Cor. 3:7-8, 11). Does your hope lie ahead in the glory of heaven or in the things of the world?

  1. Image credit: Pinterest↩︎