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Wednesday, October 4th, 2023
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 33

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-23

Let's turn now to Exodus chapter thirty-three that we might continue our study through the Word of God.

And the Lord said unto Moses, Depart, and go up from here, you and the people which you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it ( Exodus 33:1 ):

Now at this point Moses and the Lord are having an argument on who these people really are. Neither of them want to claim them. When God was speaking with Moses there on Mount Sinai in the previous chapter, "The Lord said unto Moses", verse seven, "get thee down for thy people which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves"( Exodus 32:7 ). Then in verse eleven as Moses responds, "Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people which you have brought forth out of the land of Egypt? ( Exodus 32:11 )"

So neither one wishing to claim them at this point. No wonder. They are forsaking the law and the ways of God. They had made the golden calf; they were worshiping it, they were violating the commandments of God. So God had more or less disowned them and said, "They are your people." Moses disowned them and said, "God, they're Your people. You're the One that brought them out of Egypt." and all.

So the Lord in the beginning of chapter thirty-three, this little thing continues with Moses and the Lord. "The Lord said unto Moses, Depart and go up from here, thou and the people which thou hast brought out of the land of Egypt." So God's handing them back to Moses at this place. "And unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it:"

And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: Unto a land that is flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up from the midst of thee ( Exodus 33:2-3 );

God said, "All right, now you take the people and you go, and I'm gonna send an angel because I'm not gonna go up in the midst of thee." Now in reality, people misunderstand God. So often they read this as a harshness on God's part, as God being very hard on Moses and on the people, but in reality it's a sign of God's grace, as we read the reason for God not going up, or not desiring to go up.

for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way ( Exodus 33:3 ).

In other words, because of the fact that they are so stiffnecked, because of the fact that they are so rebellious and so prone towards sin, God said, "I'm not gonna go up in the midst of thee", lest actually by that very holiness of God the people be consumed for their sinfulness. So rather than being a thing of judgment on God's part, it was a thing of grace.

And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man put on his ornaments. [They left their jewelry off. They were mourning before God.] For the Lord had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, You are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee. And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb. And Moses took the tabernacle ( Exodus 33:3-7 ),

Now this is not the tabernacle that was to be built, this is prior to the actual building of the tabernacle. So the word means, "the place of meeting", and it was that place where they met God prior to the building of the tabernacle, which we'll find in a few chapters.

and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp ( Exodus 33:7 ).

So they took the place of meeting, the place where the people met God and from the midst. Now the people were before this, sort of all circled around this place of the meeting of God, the tribes in each order all around it. Now they remove it, and they put it completely outside of the camp; meaning, that the people have to now come outside of the camp in order to meet God.

Now there is an interesting spiritual sequel in this, in that Jesus crucified outside of the city of Jerusalem, people have to come out of Judaism to meet with God through Jesus Christ. They can no longer meet with God through the system of Judaism, but outside of Judaism. Now a new covenant that God established, the covenant that was established with Israel, being disannulled because of the people's failure to abide by that covenant. So having abolished the old covenant, God has now established a new covenant, which is outside of the Judaism itself. So to meet with God it is necessary to come out. For the Jew it is necessary for him to come out from Judaism and to meet God outside of a national kind of a relationship.

Now the relationship to God is available to every man. There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We must all come to God now through Jesus Christ, and that is outside of the camp, really, of Israel itself.

And so it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked at Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar standing at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door. And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle ( Exodus 33:8-11 ).

So Moses pitched the tabernacle outside of the camp. God said, "I'll not dwell in the midst of you, lest I consume you." So he took the place of meeting outside of the camp. Moses went outside and entered into this tabernacle, and when he did, the people standing in their tent doors and watching saw this pillar, that had been leading them, descend to the door of that tabernacle; the presence of God, symbolic really of God's presence with him. As they saw this phenomena, they all began to worship God there in their own tent doors. Now of course, Moses was there making intercession once again for the people.

And Moses said unto the Lord, See, that thou sayest unto me ( Exodus 33:12 ),

"Oh, let's deal with this thing" and he talks to the Lord face to face. Don't want to jump over that, because we read down just a little bit further, as Moses said,

I beseech thee, show me thy glory ( Exodus 33:18 ),

Verse eighteen. And He said,

I will make all my goodness to pass before thee, I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee, and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy upon whom I will show mercy. And He said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live ( Exodus 33:19-20 ).

So when Moses talked to God "face to face" it doesn't mean he was looking at God face to face, but there was just such a complete and total communication between God and Moses. It was just like a dialogue rather than a monologue. I mean, he would talk to God, God would speak right back to him, but he did not actually see the face of God.

In the New Testament Jesus tells us that, "No man hath seen God at any time. But the Only Begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, He has manifested Him"( John 1:18 ). So in comparing scripture with scripture, we realize that Moses did not actually look upon the face of God because here in the very chapter, it says, "No man can see God's face and live."

It is interesting that in every vision that men had of God, the brilliance of God was such that it was like looking at a sun. So in looking at the brightness of that outshining glory of God, there could not actually be any form that could be described or drawn. Just in seeing God, there was just that brightness of His glory that's all they could see, no form at all. But Moses had such communication with God that it was just a conversation with the Lord.

Now in this I am envious. I wish that I had a clear communication-well, I wish He had a clear communication with me. I think my communication with Him is fairly clear. But I oftentimes have difficulty understanding the voice of God as He speaks to me. Sometimes I think God has spoken and He hasn't. It was just something out of my own mind. It was just something that I had thought. You say, "Well, how do you know that?" Because it worked out so miserably. Then there were other times when I didn't know if it was the Lord or not that was speaking to me. Then as it turned out, I found out it was, and I wished that I had followed up on the impulse or I wish I would've said something about it. I wish I would've said, "I know what the Lord has shown me". And I wish I would've shared it with someone, so that they'd know that man, I really was tuned in for once. So many times it is only after the fact that I realize that, "Oh, that was God speaking to me."

I have never had the experience of God speaking to me in an audible voice. I have had the experience of the Lord speaking to me in such a definite, positive way that I knew immediately it was God, there was no doubt about it, and I just-I just knew it. I was aware of it, I was conscious of it; there was no question. But so many times there is sort of a question about it. I don't know. There are-there are strange things that happen and I can't explain them, impressions that you get, and you don't know the origin.

I was sitting at a Rose Bowl game a few years ago and we were down in the area of the end zone, and S.C. was down in our territory going in the other direction. I said to the friend that I was with, and of course my voice carries, my wife always tells me to talk softer because my voice does carry, and I said, "Watch this next play. Anthony Davis is going all the way in one play around left end." The next play, they gave the ball to Anthony Davis, he went around left end, and all the way for a touchdown. Everybody around me turned and looked at me, you know. Then they started saying, "Tell us something else."

Now I don't-I just-I just had an impression, I just saw it in my mind. I just had an impression and said it. How is it that it followed? I don't know. Was it just coincidence? Perhaps, because surely God wouldn't be interested in a Rose Bowl game or would He? It'd be interesting to have that kind of power and go to the racetrack. I don't advocate it, you're liable to lose everything; find out God isn't talking to you.

But God speaking with man. God has spoken with a man. "God who at sundry times, and in divers manners spake unto our fathers by the prophets"( Hebrews 1:1 ). Different ways, different times, God has spoken to man. It's always exciting to realize that God has spoken to us. But He has in this these last days spoken unto us by His own dear Son.

Now God has spoken to each of us by Jesus Christ. The clearest revelation that any of us can receive of God is by Jesus Christ. He has spoken unto us by His own dear Son. That is why I do not feel that God is speaking to me by an angel would be so important or really meaningful in that He has already spoken to me by His own dear Son. It is interesting that nowhere in the New Testament do I read after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that angels came to really communicate the revelation of God to man; that came to us through Jesus Christ. Now the angel did come to Paul on the ship and instructed him concerning things that were going to take place, the shipwreck and so forth, but no revelation of doctrine.

So Moses had this experience of speaking to God in a very direct way, and God answering him, a conversational way and this has been unparalleled. No other man has had this experience of being on such a conversational basis with God. God speaks of it later on as sort of an exclusive thing. With no other man had there been that conversational basis in such a complete clear way as it was with Moses.

So Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight ( Exodus 33:12 ).

Now Moses said, "Look, You said You're gonna send an angel, but You never even introduced me to him, someone I don't even know. Now You tell me that You know me by my name. You tell me that I have found grace in Your sight, now You're trying to pass off an angel on me. When I have this kind of a relationship with You, I don't want an angel." Why settle for second best? Why settle for something less than God Himself. "You say You know me by my name. You say I've found grace, than don't send the angel."

Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. ["Quit trying to put them off on me."] And God said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest ( Exodus 33:13-14 ).

That which Moses was looking for, the presence of God, for he recognized the need for the presence of God. He knew what God could do; he wasn't sure what the angels could do. Knowing the power of the presence of God, he didn't want to accept any substitute.

And Moses said unto God, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not from here ( Exodus 33:15 ).

In other words, "If Your presence doesn't go with me, Lord, I don't want to go. I don't want to leave here. I don't want to leave without Your presence." That is perhaps about the wisest thing that Moses could ever do is just stick right where he was unless he had God's presence going with him. You're foolish to venture anywhere apart from the presence of God. You're foolish to venture out in your own, on your own. We need the presence of God wherever we go. "If Your presence doesn't go with me, then Lord, don't send me from here."

For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that you go with us? ["How are we gonna prove that we've found grace, only in Your presence with us actually.] so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for you have found grace in my sight, and I do know you by name. And he said, I beseech thee, [Moses had things going for him, God's agreed to a couple issues, so Moses is gonna press it now, and he said, "I beseech thee",] show me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But the Lord said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live ( Exodus 33:16-20 ).

So Moses' desire, his prayer, "Show me Thy glory." Oh, that that would be the prayer of our own hearts. "Oh God show me Thy glory" that we might really get a glimpse of the glory of God. We get so earthbound, we get so bound in the things of man, the things of man's creation, the work of our own hands; oh, that we might see the glory of God. "Lord, show me Thy glory."

Paul got a glimpse of the glory of God, the glory of God's dwelling place, as did John. Paul's glimpse revolutionized his life, changed him completely. It created a continual dissatisfaction with earthly things from then on. How could you be happy in this mess when God has such a glorious place prepared for us? "Lord, just let me see Your glory."

I pray for each one of you that God will somehow allow you to see His glory, that it will create that dissatisfaction with earthly things, that I can never settle down in the old routine again. I can never be happy again with just the old mundane material world around me, but there'll be that longing to enter into that glory, and the presence of God. "Oh Lord, show me Your glory. Demonstrate Your glory before Your people." Interesting prayer. I wonder why people don't pray it more. Why don't we just really seek to see the glory of God? "Lord, show us Thy glory."

So God promised that first of all He would let His goodness pass before him. Then God said, "And I will proclaim the name". Now this name God is gonna proclaim it to Moses; it is a name that was highly revered by the Jews, so highly revered but that they would not even attempt to pronounce it. So the name of God became non-pronounceable.

When the scribes would come to the name of God in their text, before they would write the consonants, they would not put in the vowels, only the consonants, Y-H-V-H. Now try and pronounce Y-H-V-H, unpronounceable, can't pronounce just the consonants, you need the vowels for pronunciation. We don't know what the vowels are. That is why we don't know if the name of God is Yahweh, or Jehovah, pronounced with a "Y" not sure how to spell it. We don't know what it is. We guess at what the vowels might be, but we don't know because the name of God was not pronounced by them.

God said, "I'm going to proclaim my name before thee." But the scribes when they would come to these consonants, before they would write them in the text, they would go in and take a bath, put on fresh clothes, wash their pen completely, dip it in fresh ink, and then write the consonants. Now can you imagine how many baths you'd have to take in some of these passages where the Lord's name is mentioned several times? Yet that is the kind of reverence in which they held the name of God, feeling that it was such a holy name that it should never pass the lips of man. Thus it was never to be pronounced by man.

So in reading the text, when the readers would come to the name, rather than attempting to pronounce the name, they would bow their head in reverence and they would just whisper the name. It was an unpronounceable name. They'd just say the name, but they held that name in such high respect. Now there was probably nothing that was held in higher respect than the name of God. Yet God declared, "I will honor My Word above My name." So the honor that God places upon His Word.

Now when God places such honor upon His Word, believe me I don't want to tamper with it. I can't understand men who tamper with the Word of God. I would be absolutely frightened to tamper with the Word of God, when God holds His Word in such high honor. "I will honor My Word above My name." I can't understand tampering with it.

I know a lot of you that are in love with the Living Bible, and I love the way he has translated many passages, and yet there's a passage in Zechariah that he has translated in, I feel, in a blasphemous way. That is in the-what is it? Fourteenth chapter where they say unto Him, "What are the meaning of the wounds in Your hands?" He said, "These are the wounds that I received in the house of my friends." Chapter thirteen, verse six. Living Bible translates that something like this, "What are the meaning of those marks on Your back?" "These are what I got in a brawl in My friends' house." Because he said the context is not speaking of Christ. But what does he mean?

Read on the next verse, "Awake O sword against My shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow saith the Lord of Hosts. Smite the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered." In the New Testament that passage is quoted. When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Eden-I mean the garden of Gethsemane, and the disciples fled from Him it said, "that the scripture might be fulfilled, smite the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered". So the context does refer to the Messiah, and for the author of the Living Bible to take such liberty to translate that thing that way. I wouldn't have the nerve to tamper with God's Word, because God honors His Word above His name.

Yet God said, "I'm gonna pronounce My name before you." They say that the only one who really knew how to pronounce the name of God was the High Priest. He would only pronounce it once a year on the Day of Atonement, which incidentally started at sundown. We are now in Yom Kippur. On the Day of Atonement when all the trumpets were blaring, and people were shouting their praises to God because the word had come back that the goat had disappeared in the wilderness. During that moment of high celebration with all of the shouts of the people rising, the priests amongst the shouts of the people would pronounce the name. But there was so much shouting nobody could hear him. So nobody knows how to pronounce the name.

God declared, "I'll proclaim my name." God gives great honor to His name, but even greater honor to His Word. Then the Lord declares His graciousness and His mercy unto Moses.

And so the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passes by, ["Lord show me Thy glory" while my glory passes by"] that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away my hand, and thou shalt see my back parts [Or actually sort of the afterglow, the hinder part, just that glow that is left from having passed by.] but my face shall not be seen ( Exodus 33:21-23 ).

Moses' prayer, "Show me Thy glory", and God promises to pass by His glory, past Moses that he might see just the afterglow of it.

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. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Exodus 33". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/exodus-33.html. 2014.
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