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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 34

Gaebelein's Annotated BibleGaebelein's Annotated

Verses 1-35

CHAPTER 34 The Result: The Second Covenant and the Glory

1. The command to hew two tables of stone (Exodus 34:1-4 )

2. The proclamation of Jehovah (Exodus 34:5-7 )

3. Moses’ worship and prayer (Exodus 34:8-9 )

4. The covenant restated (Exodus 34:10-26 )

5. The second tables written (Exodus 34:27-28 )

6. The glory upon the face of Moses (Exodus 34:29-35 )

The command is given to Moses to hew two tables of stone like the first, which Jehovah Himself had hewn and which were broken by Moses. The first were hewn of one stone; the second of two stones. Moses was permitted to furnish the material for the second tables, while the Lord had furnished it for the first. The second tables were given as the result of the intercession of Moses. But God wrote the words on the second tables of stones as He had done on the first.

The manifestation of Jehovah recorded in this chapter is deeply interesting. In chapter 33:21-23 the Lord promised Moses a vision. This is now fulfilled. Jehovah came down from heaven in a cloud and stood with him there; He proclaimed the name of Jehovah. This reminds us of Exodus 19:24 . What Moses saw is not stated. The Lord had come down to him and the descended Lord made known the name of the Lord. It is a most blessed hint on the incarnation of Jehovah and the manifestation of the name of Jehovah through Him, who is Jehovah. “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 ). The descended Lord makes known grace, but also divine righteousness. The full manifestation of grace could not be then made known; only in the cross of Christ, where God’s righteousness is revealed, grace shines forth in all its marvelous glory. In the gospel of Jesus Christ the justification of the ungodly is announced as well as the glorious inheritance of eternity for justified believers. Of this the law had nothing to say, for it could not give righteousness and God never meant to give to man eternal glory by keeping the commandments.

Moses worshipped and bowed his head toward the earth. His prayer to Jehovah is that He might come among them. He confessed the sinful condition of the people and asks for pardon. He includes himself. In chapter 33:5 Jehovah called the people stiff-necked. Moses then did not use this word; but here when Jehovah speaks of grace he pleads this charge of Jehovah for forgiveness and mercy. This is a blessed foreshadowing of the gospel of grace. But there is another lesson here. Moses realizes that the presence of Jehovah who had uttered such gracious words, if He were among them, would result in their forgiveness. The Holy One of Israel will some day be in the midst of His earthly people, then He will forgive their sins and remember them no more, and they will be His inheritance.

In the statements of the renewed covenant the separation of the people from the inhabitants of Canaan is made prominent. They were to have nothing to do with the impure and abominable idolatries of these nations. He called His people unto holiness. Moreover, they were to destroy their altars, their images and their groves. The word groves is “asherah.” It was an image used for the most lascivious practices, commonly known as the phallic worship. It flourished among all the ancient nations, but was especially used by the Canaanites. When Israel later fell in with these abominations, the judgment fell upon them. The commandments concerning the feasts, the Sabbath, and the firstfruits are repeated.

The conclusion of this chapter is used in 2 Corinthians 3:0 .

When Moses was on the mountain the first time to receive the first tables of stone no glory was seen on his face, because the covenant was altogether legal and not a ray of glory can come from that. The second time, because grace and mercy were mingled with it, glory shines from the mediator’s face. But they could not look upon that glory. He had to cover his face with a vail. Thus grace and glory are covered in the law. This vail is done away in Christ. In Him grace and glory in the most perfect splendor shine forth. And it is a glory which does not wane, but increases. “But we all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18 ).

Of Israel it is written, “But their minds were blinded, for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament, which veil is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their hearts. Nevertheless, when it shall turn unto the Lord, the veil shall be taken away” (2 Corinthians 3:14-16 ). And that glorious day is coming, when they will believe.

Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Exodus 34". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/exodus-34.html. 1913-1922.
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