In Exodus 34, God's covenant with Israel is reestablished. Moses returned to the top of Mount Sinai, again received the Ten Commandments, and God's choice, presence, greatness, and power are confirmed.
Beginning in the brickyards of Egypt and ending in the tabernacle filled with God's presence, the book of Exodus chronicles the deliverance of God's people from Egypt and records the end of their oppression under Pharaoh. It also provides an account of the beginning of a prophecy fulfilled: God promised Abraham descendants beyond number, and on the pages of Exodus we see Israel become a great nation.
In this verse-by-verse study, Pastor Skip Heitzig presents an in-depth look at Moses, the ten plagues, the ten commandments, the desert wanderings, the construction of the tabernacle, and more. As we study, we'll see the grace of God, witness the glory of the Lord, and a catch a glimpse of Israel's coming Savior.
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Hebrew terms: כָּבוֹד; kabowd- weight, weighty (someone's weighty reputation); אֲשֵׁרָה; Asherah- Any and all statues of pagan worship
Cross References: Exodus 20:3; Exodus 33:18; Deuteronomy 7:6-7; Judges 6:25-32; 1 Samuel 2:30; Ezekiel 18; Acts 4:13; Luke 24:13-32; John 14:8; 2 Corinthians 11:2; 2 Corinthians 12:3-9;
Keywords: Moses, Mt. Sinai, second chance, YHWH
Lord, when we think of birthdays and we think of time on earth, we realize instantly as we're addressing You that we're dealing with the eternal and we're speaking to You -- to One who dwells in the realm unlike us. We were bound by a time and space continuum. You, who are not, but in the realm of the eternal now, the eternal present, that one day we're going to shed these mortal bodies, and mortality will put on immortality, and death will be swallowed up by life and these bodies which are decaying and governed by the laws of nature including entropy and all of the others, Lord, that one day we're going to be beyond this. And Lord, until then, we want to make the greatest possible impact in our lives, in our families, in our communities as is possible.
We believe you're all about instructing us and preparing us to do that. You want to do a work within our lives that includes our outlook, includes our values system, includes our beliefs that will shape and mold our behavior. So Lord, we place ourselves as living sacrifices as Paul taught us to do. And we pray, Lord, that even through this Book of Exodus, these chapters, these verses that your spirit would be on the move among us. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Well, we have studied last week that Moses came down from the mountain. After being up there for 40 days and receiving God's words, His revelation. We discovered that God moved out of town, basically. Or you might say was moved out of town, almost forced out of town. That by the very nature of the activity going on in the Israelite camp -- the worship of a golden calf -- that Moses pitched a tent, not the Tabernacle. The Bible tells us his tent outside of the camp. And their outside of the camp, away from the people of Israel who had worshipped God in a false manner, the camp had become defiled. God was moved out of town.
There, Moses met with the Lord, and those people who wanted to meet with the Lord could also, the scripture tells us. Well, there's no record that they did, but there is a record that Moses in that tent outside of the tents of Israel, outside the camp, met with the Lord. Whenever he met with the Lord, and the Bible says God spoke to him face-to-face, or mouth to mouth literally as a man speaks to his friend, that a cloud that symbolized the presence of God descended upon the opening of that tent of Moses and it enveloped the place where Moses was at.
And this so blew people away that whenever that cloud would come down and the camp of Israel could see Moses going into the tent to speak with the Lord that all of the people of Israel stood to their feet and they looked. It's like it's happening. God showed up. Moses and God are hanging out again. God is talking to Moses and Moses is talking to the Lord. And so they were having this conversation but it was apart from the camp.
Now, God had told Moses what was going on in the camp of Israel when he came down from Mount Sinai, and the Lord told Moses, "Moses, I'm not going to be with you in the fullness of my presence because if I were, these people couldn't handle it. They would be consumed in an instant. So I'm going to send my angel with you lest you be consumed along the way." God was evidently angry with the people of Israel. In fact, offered to let Moses be like Abraham that God would start all over again using Moses and starting a whole new nation in effect wiping out the people of Israel.
Some years ago, there was a wedding at a church. Now, this happens all the time. After the wedding, in the basement of the church and the church is then, as some still do, have basements in their building, the reception for the wedding was held. Now in this basement which doubled as a fellowship hall and a place of congregational meeting throughout the week, there were scriptures that were posted on the walls of this basement.
Most of the scriptures were about God's love like John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son etcetera," and other verse about the mercy and the grace of God etcetera, etcetera. But there was one verse and it was right over the place where the wedding cake was and the bride and the groom came together. And it really wasn't seen until the wedding photographs were developed because the wedding photographer stood right in front of the cake and got the photograph. But right above the wedding cake, where the bride and the groom were standing, was Matthew Chapter 3, Verse 7 which reads, "Flee from the wrath that is to come."
As the couple would look at that picture years later, they would be wondering about that, perhaps. God said, "Moses, in my wrath, I could consume this entire nation in a moment." But we know what happened. Moses was not only the mediator of the covenant, but the intercessor for the covenant and he prayed, "God, don't do it. If You are going to wipe them out, You might as well kill me. Blot my name out of Your book." And God was, I believe, doing all this to draw that response from Moses so that Moses would become an intercessor and would feel toward these people like God had always felt toward these people. And so he prayed and the Lord promised that He would go with them.
In Chapter 34, we have take two. Take one was Moses coming down from the mountain seeing the scene, breaking the tablets. Take two is God calls Moses back up to Mount Sinai for another 40 days and another 40 nights and gives him another copy of the tablets of stone, and he is to go back down into the camp of Israel.
Now, this is good news. In bringing Moses back up, he is reestablishing the covenant that was in jeopardy because of their sin. In effect, He is saying, "I accept you Moses. I accept your prayer and I will accept these people as my covenant people." It's sort of like a bus bringing once dismissed employees back on staff. They have been dismissed. The boss brings them back and he says, "Welcome back to the company. Now, go to work."
So God brings Moses -- the representative of the covenant back upon on Mount Sinai. Now, it's an extended period of worship. The revelation of God has already been given to Moses previously. But you remember something from last study? Moses made a request in the midst of all these. He said, "Lord, show me Your light, Your glory. Show me Your glory." The word "glory" in Hebrew is the word "kabod", and it literally means heavy or heaviness, weight or weightiness. And the idea behind the word is someone's weighty reputation or weighty position.
One translation says, "Lord, I want to see Your very self, Your own person. I want an encounter where I can fully experience You." God said, "Moses, you can't see my face. No man can see my face and live. Now, I'll work it out where I'll pass by, I'll hide you and protect you. You would be able to see my back as I pass by. My afterglow, you might say, but you won't see my face. And there, I will proclaim my name." Now God said that to him. Moses asked for one thing, "I want to see You, basically. I want a visual of You. I want to see Your glory." He didn't get that. What did he get? We'll see in part tonight.
Chapter 34, Verse 1, "And the Lord said to Moses, 'Cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke." This was a question that I was asked last week at our bible study by a couple. They said, "Well, if Moses broke the Commandments, then how did the two Commandments end up eventually in the Ark of the Covenant?" Well, this is how they did: Moses goes back up again on Mount Sinai.
The first time, God provided the tablets. They were hewn out of stone by God Himself and then God wrote on them. This time, Moses has to get a set of stone tablets and God will write on them. So Moses is involved in the process. He broke the first set. He bears a little bit of responsibility in providing the raw materials this time.
Look at this, "So be ready in the morning and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai and present yourself to me there on top of the mountain." I'll tell you where this verse really hit me, is when I was on top of Mount Sinai some years ago. I climbed up and I had read the previous chapter that he was up on Mount Sinai and he came down and then he had to go up again. Now, Mount Sinai is 7,500 feet high, roughly. It takes about 3 hours to climb it and that's by a modern day trail today. It's quite a climb. It's like if you were to climb at the base of Tramway and go up to Sandia Mountain and come back down and God says, "Come on back." "Oh man, again? Couldn't we have just done all of this on one take?" "Nope, this is take two. Come back up."
Typically, if you go to Mount Sinai, they tell you that the best time to climb is between -- you start climbing about two in the morning or three in the morning with flashlights. It's quite cold even in the summer by the time you get up to this altitude, but there's nothing like a sunrise from Mount Sinai. No, I don't think Moses was about the sunrise. He was about getting up there early like God had said because God's going to reveal more to him.
Verse 3, a different twist is at it, "No man shall come with you." Remember last time Joshua accompanied Moses part way up. "And let no man be seen throughout all the mountain. Let neither flocks nor herds feed before the mountain. So he cut two tablets of stone like the first ones then Moses rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai as the Lord had commanded him. And he took in his hand the two tablets of stone. Now, the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the name of the Lord." Interesting wording, is it not? The Lord came and the Lord spoke the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, "The Lord."
Now, in your Bibles, you will notice that the word "Lord" is in all capitals, yes? Anytime you see that in the Old Testament, "Lord" capitalized, where all of the letters are capitalized, it is the Hebrew tetragrammaton -- Y, H, W, H. We would transliterate that from the Hebrew. Those four consonants, those four letters, we don't know how it was pronounced. It's been lost.
The Jews to this day will not speak the name of God out of honor to Him. They will simply call Him "The Name", or they will pause. If they're writing in English to you and they come to say "God", they will say "G-D". They won't spell out the name "God". So we don't know how it is to be pronounced. Most think it was pronounced "Yahweh". Yahweh is the eternal present one or "I am that I am." So it's the covenant name of God.
So God appears to Moses and proclaims His name. Now, if you remember from last study, God said, "Moses, no one's going to see my face and be able to live. You couldn't handle my face. You couldn't handle looking at me." Philip asked for that, didn't he, in the upper room? "Jesus, just show us the Father. That will be enough." "Well, it might be enough but like a bug getting too close to a bug zapper, Philip, you'd die dude. You'd be no more." God said, "Moses, no one can see my face and live. You can't be sustained. So I'll let you see the afterglow," and God promised, "I will proclaim my name."
Now watch this. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed. Now what God is going to proclaim would be a description. This is what's interesting: God will give a nine-fold ethical description of Himself, or nine of His attributes will be given to Moses. And what's amazing, it's sort of shocking the attributes that God chose to reveal, "The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering." It's a great word. It means God puts up with you a long time.
Aren't you glad for longsuffering? I am. God has had to put up with some of my attitudes and behavior that's just ranked and raunchy for a long time. Somebody once said, "The grace of God can live with some people with whom no one else could ever live." "Longsuffering and gracious, long suffering and abounding and goodness and trust, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving inequity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the inequity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation."
A couple of things you ought to notice about this nine-fold scripture. First of all, Moses didn't really see anything. He wanted to see God's glory, "Show me Your glory." He didn't really get to see God's glory, God told him why. He didn't really get a vision. He really didn't get an apparition. You know what he got? Words.
God spoke to him. God said things to him. He got words, "Words? That's not what I came for. I want to see Your glory. I don't want a bible study. I don't want a sermon from You, God. I want to see Your glory." It's not what Moses wanted. It's not what he requested. It's what he got. Moses knew what he wanted. God knew what he needed. Paul the Apostle knew what he wanted. God knew what he needed.
Paul said, "Because of the abundance of the revelations that I have received, the thorn and the flesh has been given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me. Three times I pleaded to the Lord that it would be removed, but all God said to me is 'My grace is enough for you." It's not what he wanted. He didn't want to hear that. He wanted God to say, "Your request has been granted. You are physically healed." But he got words. He got a promise.
The men on the road to Emmaus got words, they got a promise. They had the scripture opened up to them. You remember the story in Luke Chapter 24. They're walking on the road to Emmaus from Jerusalem. Jesus walks up next to them. They don't recognize Him. He's incognito and he says, "Hey, what are you guys talking about?" And they said that Jesus -- I love this conversation so much. They said to Jesus, "Are you a stranger in this part of the world? Don't you know the things that have been happening in these last few days?" And Jesus said, "What things?" Classic, he knew what things, but he wanted them to say it.
And so they talked about Jesus of Nazareth etcetera and how we hoped in Him but then he died and our hopes have been dashed and it's all over now. And he says, beginning with Moses and all of the prophets, he expounded or explained to them all of things in the scripture concerning himself. Well later on, after Jesus left, one turned to the other and said this, "Did not our hearts burned within us as He spoke to us along the road and opened to us the scripture."
Jesus did not perform a miracle for them. There wasn't some apparition. They did not see the face of Jesus in the clouds or in a tortilla or in some manifestation, but they heard words. They didn't see, they heard, they heard words -- words of light, words they heard growing up.
They were raised Jewish. They heard those words from the prophets and Moses every week in synagogue, but not like that day. Jesus opened up the scripture. It's like opening the curtains and the light floods in and you see the room and the scripture makes things clear and, "I get it. I get it," and it brings that burning of the heart. So Moses didn't get a visual as much as he got words from Jesus.
Second thing to notice about this is that God describes His character. Now He's proclaiming His name, did you get that? "The Lord, the Lord God," and then attributes are given. In other words, God's name is associated with his character. When you pray, "In the name of Jesus," it's not like "Over and out, good buddy." "In Jesus' name, Amen", is not some magical incantation. It means that you are praying, requesting, talking to God for things that are in line with his character.
If you ever see the name Rolls Royce stamped on something, typically, it's most aircraft engines that fly you around the world, many of them are either GE or Rolls Royce. Or if you see it on a car, when you see that stamped on something, there's a reputation behind the name. It has a reputation for quality, craftsmanship, handmade craftsmanship, precision and high cost. It has a reputation. God stamps His name, not only in His creation but on His covenant, and the covenant is based upon His character. The name, the Lord, the Lord God, and then this attributes were given.
Now, here's the third thing to notice: It's a little bit shocking as to how God revealed Himself because I would have figured if I hadn't read this, that when God wants to reveal Himself to Moses after the children of Israel sinned and God almost said, "You know, I may not be going with you guys, but I'm just going to send my messenger, but I'm not going to really hang out with you guys," you might think that God would introduce Himself, His character by saying, "The Lord, the Lord God, omnipotent, omniscient, strong," all of those kinds of attributes. But instead, these are attributes that we would call, although they are all positive, positive attributes of His moral character -- His love, His mercy, His grace, His longsuffering.
Just to understand how monumental this is, I'll give you an example. If a man steals something and is found out, he will be labeled as a thief. Even if he makes amends, he's going to live with that stigma for years to come. People will always view him as a thief. Or if a man or a woman falls morally, does something outside of what is proper, the bounds of marriage, that person will also be labeled probably permanently because that's a trait of mankind. We view each other through the lens of the other person's sin. God views people through the lens of His love, His grace, His mercy.
It actually is amazing to me the way the Lord introduced Himself when He proclaimed His name. But there's something troubling for some people, although we've looked at it in the past. I want to just look at it briefly. He says, "Visiting the inequity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and fourth generation." Some people read into this, something that is not there. I don't want to say I believe it's not there. It's not there and it's the idea of a generational curse.
It's popular in many churches. I won't say which ones. But the idea of a generational curse, "I am the way I am because my grandfather did this," and we are looking for these days, it seems almost a way or a person to blame. "Well, I have a temper because I'm Irish," or "I have a temper because I'm Hispanic," or "I have a temper because I'm German."
Actually, every person on earth has a temper, so you could say that with anybody, and that's why I don't want to just name one. I'll get in trouble if I do, but I've heard these excuses. "I am the way because of my genetic structure." That's not what it means.
Let me tell you what it means then I'll give you a scripture and we'll move on. It simply means, and the context here is idolatry. That was the big sin the children of Israel kept falling into like the last chapter that we read, last couple of chapters. If parents raise children in an atmosphere of idolatry, they're setting up that child with the exposure to idolatry, to become idolatrous. It's going to play out in the natural consequences because of the sin or sins of the parents. It doesn't mean that if your grandpa was an alcoholic, you have to be one too. That's just the way it is, generational curse. We better pray and expel the demon of the generational curse. It doesn't mean that. it's not a biblical concept.
Now, the scripture, and I command you reading the whole chapter. Just mark this down and chase it down later, Ezekiel Chapter 18, "God speaks to the prophet and He says, 'Ezekiel, I've been hearing a phrase going around in Israel and I'm sick of it. I'm tired of it. Why is it? Where does this come from, this phrase that the children of Israel are always --?" Here was the phrase, here was the action, here was the statement, "Our fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge." In other words, because their parents sinned, the children are doing the things because of their parents. They can't help it. It's a generational curse.
Then God says, "I'm sick of hearing that, you will say it no more in Israel." Then the Lord says, "All souls are mine -- the soul of the father, the soul of the son is mine. All souls are mine and the soul who sins shall surely die. I'm going to hold everybody personally responsible for their own stuff. You can't blame your parents or your grandparents anymore. Stop the blame game. Stop it. Don't say that anymore. You don't have to live under those shackles anymore." So this idea of this generational curse is simply the natural repercussions of false worship or sins committed by parents that would be seen, the children will be exposed to and would be played out because of it.
So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth and worshipped. I dig this. Can I say that? I dig this. I love this. I love this because Moses didn't get what he wanted but he worshipped. Most of you could have said, "Hold on, God. Nice little speech you gave. That was good and I'm into that. But I want to see something. I want to be moved emotionally. I want the tingles. I want the tortilla. I don't want just words." No, you know what? Moses got it. God revealed Himself and His characteristics, and Moses saw himself in the light of who God was and it drove him to worship and I think this is true worship because worship isn't about you or about me.
It's not like, "I don't like that worship leader. So? I really don't like that worship song." Next, it's not about you, it's about Him. And when we enter into the meaning of the purpose of worship, the words that are being sung and we bypass what we like or don't like, our preferences and we lock in on the Lord, the Lord God, He is this, He is that. We worship because worship is the most selfless act on earth if it's done correctly. It's not about us, it's about. Moses worshipped the Lord.
And then he said, "If now I have found grace in your sight oh Lord, let my Lord I pray go among us even though we are a stiff-necked people, and pardon our inequity and our sin and take us as your inheritance." And he said, "Behold!" Oh by the way, this word stiff-necked keeps coming up, doesn't it? God said, "They're stiff-necked," and then God said, "Moses, I want you to talk to the people. Address them," this was last week, "And give them a sermon," and the sermon said, "Point one, you're a stiff-necked people." He had to tell them that.
Now, Moses admits freely before the Lord, "You know, God, you were right, they really are stiff-necked." But I'm bringing this up because I want you to see how flawed the covenant people of God were. They were not perfect. God is still establishing a covenant with them. They were not perfect. In fact, a great verse to write in the reference side of your bible is Deuteronomy Chapter 7, where God says, "I didn't choose you because you were more in number or greater than any of the nations on the earth, because you aren't. I chose you because I love you."
In other words, "I love you just because I love you." Sounds like a mom. It didn't matter what her son or daughter does. Mom will always love that child because I love you. God says, "I love you because I love you. Not because you're great, not because wow! I'm impressed with you." He says, "Frankly, you're a stiff-necked people," and Moses said, "I've found that out. I agree," but God chose them and will work with them. And He said, "Behold, I make a covenant before all of your people. I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth nor in any nation and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord for it is an awesome thing that I do. Observe what I command this day. Behold, I am driving out from before you, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzites, the Hevites and the Jebusites."
See, I refrained from my usual lame joke on that one. "Take heed to yourself, lest you make the covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst. But you will destroy all of their altars and break their sacred pillars and cut down their wooden images." What is a wooden image? Literally in Hebrew, it's "Asherah" or "Asherim", translated here "wooden image". Where does that come from?
Well, it's a word that describes any and all of the statues that were manufactured by the ancient pagan worshippers of that day under the term Asherah or Asherim. But the word itself comes from a goddess called Asherah. She was the companion, the consort of Baal who is the chief god in Canaan and in Mesopotamia. You've heard the name Baal? It's written in the bible many times. The chief companion or consort of Baal was Asherah. Now, Baal was the storm god. He was in charge of nature. If it rained, it was because Baal blessed us. If it didn't rain, it's because Baal is mad at us.
So the Canaanites believed that Baal was responsible for the harvest, the fruitfulness of the harvest, the fruitfulness of the flocks, the fruitfulness of our families. So the way they worshipped Baal, because Baal had a consort named Asherah -- they had a thing going on, they had a relationship going on in the god realm -- they believed that the best way to worship Baal and Asherah was through sexual activity. Now, this will help explain why it became such a temptation to the people of Israel. They thought if part of the worship system is having sex, a lot of people said, "I'm down with that. I'm all about that."
It was a constant temptation to the men of Israel. There were temples to Baal and priestesses that would keep the temples. And the men would go pay a fee to the priestess, have a sexual activity with the priestess and a prayer was uttered during their sexual activity, something like this, "Even as fertility is taking place right now in our bodies, may fertility take place with my flocks, with my harvest and with my family." That's how they worship Baal and Asherah.
God says, "You're going into that kind of land. I want you to rip down their altars. I want you to rip down those poles." And oftentimes, an Asherah pole was placed next to an altar of Baal. In fact, the prime example is Gideon. Remember Gideon in the book of Judges? The Lord spoke to Gideon and said, "Gideon, your dad is an idol worshipper. I want you to go to his stall and take out a couple of his animals and kill them. I want you to knock down the altar that he built to Baal and the Asherah pole or wooden image that is next to it and worship these animals on an altar that you raised in my honor."
So what you read here was reiterated and practiced by Gideon later on the Book of Judges. Verse 14, I paused because I wanted to take this verse singularly, "For you shall worship no other gods, for the Lord whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." Please don't feel like you have to apologize for that statement, "Oh, what do I do with that verse?" Nothing, it's there, read it, I get it. God is a jealous God. Eight times the Bible says, "God is a jealous God."
Now, it's been watered down a little bit, "I'm a zealous God." But jealous is actually a pretty good term, very accurate term. The word in Hebrew "qin'ah" means to become red faced. Can you picture some of this red-faced? And it describes somebody who is so zealous over his property. He already owns the property. He's zealous over his property. It's his, it's been stolen, it's been defiled or whatever. That's the term "qin'ah" or red-faced or jealous, sometimes translated zealous.
I say it's a good term because Paul uses it also in the New Testament. He says, "I am jealous over you," to the Corinthians, Second Corinthians 11, "I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy. For I have espoused you, engaged, betrothed you to one person that I might present you as a chased virgin even under Christ."
I remember at one time overhearing a woman say, "I am so proud of my husband, he's not a jealous husband," and I thought, "Poor woman." If he was worth his salt, he'd be a jealous husband. I love my wife. She's my wife. I never shared her with anyone. And I would say, "Oh dude, I'm open-minded, you know whatever. I'm not a jealous husband." I'd be an idiot. There's a covenant relationship. You guard that relationship.
So for God to say, unashamedly, "I'm a jealous God." I'm not ashamed of Him saying that] and I don't feel it takes any like "wow" explanation. I get it. We're God's people. We're the unreservedly worship the Lord, "I am the Lord your God, you will have no other gods besides me." I get that.
Now watch this, "Lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifice to their gods and one of them invites you and you eat of his sacrifice and you take of his daughters for your sons and his daughters play the harlot with their gods and make your sons play the harlot with their gods." This is an intriguing principle. Sometimes, people will investigate religion, investigate Christianity, investigate spirituality, and they will choose upon a spiritual journey based upon an independent and objective investigation of the truth, the facts, the people who they admire who are doing this thing or whatever. And based upon their investigation, they will say, "I choose that spiritual path." But typically, it doesn't work that way.
Normally, rather than investigation, there's invitation. People invite in the realm of whatever religious system is present in that culture in that day. People will invite others, "Come on and be a part of our service, of our religious experience." And because it's the dominant experience, they just go along with it, they'll just tolerate it, and they'll even indulge in it and convert to it because of the peer pressure, not because of an independent investigation. God knew that was a principle -- that mankind do that. They're not always good, independent thinkers. There is a herd instinct and He knew that His people would be among Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites, who would be into Baal and Asherah etcetera, and invite them. So God says, "Uh-uh."
Now, He makes a restriction in that final verse that we read; Verse 16, that there would be an intermarriage. Now understand something about this: The bible never forbids intermarriage between races, but between religions. It's not based upon ethnicity, it's based upon spirituality. It's not the mixture of races that is a problem. It's the mixture of religious values system, spiritual values system. That's what this was all about. It was really more about, not the race, but about the spirituality. "As you play the harlot with their gods," and who did that? Who married a bunch of women and got trapped up with their gods and goddesses? Solomon, and that's why the Bible in the Torah forbids the king of Israel to multiply wives to himself. "Lest they draw your heart away, you shall make--" Verse 17, "-- no molded gods for yourself."
Now, in the next several verses, there's this sampling of what has already been given in the revelation, the last trip Moses was on Mount Sinai. There are 10 things God addresses like the 10 Commandments, but these are sample commandments from all of the revelation that God has already given. Follow. Sort of summing it up, hitting on certain areas, "You shall make no molded of gods for yourselves. The Feast of Unleavened Bread --" Verse 18, "-- you shall keep. Seven days you will eat unleavened bread as one commanded in the appointed time of the month of Abib," that's the first month associated with Passover, "In the month of Abib you came out of Egypt. All that open the womb are mine and every male first born among your livestock whether ox or sheep."
So God has already said this, now he's reiterating what He said, "The kids are mine." The kids are the Lord's. Your children are the Lord's. He gave them life. You're a steward but the very second you have a child born into your house, from that moment on, there is a process you are learning of letting go. You might begin with a dedication service a few months after birth, "Lord we dedicate this child to you." But that's a covenant that you repeat, that you keep. The children do belong to the Lord, like Hannah who dedicated her son Samuel and prayed for a son and then the Lord got her pregnant. And she had Samuel and she said, "I prayed to the Lord for this son, and the Lord blessed me. Therefore, I will lend him to the Lord as long as he lives." The children belong to him and parents have that responsibility and the honor of being a partner with God in shaping the life of the child.
Down to verse 21, "Six days you shall work, on the seventh day you shall rest. In plowing time, in harvest time, you will rest. You shall observe the Feast of Weeks," that's Pentecost, "the first fruits of the wheat harvest, the Feast of the Ingathering. At the year's end, three times in a year, all of your men shall appear before the Lord your God." Watch this, I love this, "For I will cast out the nations before you and enlarge your borders, neither will any man covet your land when you go up to appear before the Lord your God three times in a year." Did you get that?
They're coming from all over Israel down to the place which will be Jerusalem to celebrate three times a year of feast -- Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. There times a year they're going to leave their city, leave their herds, their flocks, in some cases, their families and they're going to go worship. Now, they're going to be tempted come festival time, "Oh, it's just not convenient for me to take that 8800 mile, 20, 30 mile journey by foot and go worship. I've got neighbors, they're lousy neighbors. They're trying to get my land. It's just not really convenient for me to do that." That's going to be their excuse, just like a person might say, "Yeah. I don't get out to church that often, you know. I'm busy and there's a lot going on at work and there's a lot going on in the neighborhood." God knows the propensity.
Now, there's a principle I want you to learn. I'll just tell it to you and I'll tell where it's found and you can chase it down. In the Book of 1 Samuel Chapter 2, I believe, the Lord says, "The one that honors me, I will honor." Here's another scripture, Proverbs Chapter 16, "When a man's ways pleased the Lord, he makes even his enemies be at peace with him." You place God number one in your life, you place spiritual things and attending these meetings that God had prescribed for us, you make that your priority, "I'll take care of the enemies. I'll take care of the problems." So God told them that. "And you shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened," etcetera.
Look down to Verse 27 because a lot of this is repeated from before, "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Write these words for according to the tenure of these words, I have made a covenant with you and with Israel. So he was there with the Lord 40 days and 40 nights. He neither ate bread --" get this, "-- nor drank water." So there was a miraculous sustenance because it's impossible otherwise for a person to survive without hydration for 40 days and 40 nights. "And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the 10 Commandments. Now, it was so when Moses came down from Mount Sinai and two tablets of the testimony were in Moses' hand. When he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him."
Okay. Well I said "Lord willing" when we began this study, didn't I? When I thought we get to two chapters. But we'll get through one.
So now we find out Moses coming down and his face is glowing. Maybe like the after radiation effects of this afterglow. He didn't know it. Of course, he didn't have a mirror up there, he's just walking down. So when Aaron and the children of Israel saw Moses, "Behold the skin of his face shone and they were afraid to come near him." What's going on here? Number one, God is confirming his choice of Moses. Moses is the man. Moses is the mediator of the covenant. Like He had done back in Egypt, He's confirming now for the children of Israel, "This is the man that I have chosen and it's reinforced by the shining of his face when he comes down." So God is confirming His choice.
Number 2, God is confirming His presence. Moses was in the presence of the Lord. Here's the aftereffect, and now Moses comes down, his face is shining, it's a sign to them that God is again present with us as we make this long arduous journey to the wilderness. It confirms God's presence. It also confirmed God's greatness, because what other worshipper of any other god or goddess -- Baal, Asherah, if there's anyone else, ever had their face glow afterwards? Nobody, this is singular. This is Moses alone with Yahweh and he comes down and his face is glowing and God is confirming his greatness.
You noticed in Verse 30 that they were afraid, it says, "to come near him". It sort of bothered them when they saw this, "What's up with Mo, man? His face is glowing, shining." It made them feel uncomfortable. I believe they were convicted by their own falling short, their own sinfulness. They knew what they had done. They knew their own propensity. Moses comes down. He's the only guy with his face shining. It brought conviction. They didn't like it. It says they were afraid to come near him.
So number four, God is confirming His power. Moses spent time in God's presence. He comes back and he's different than when he went up, right? He's different because he was in God's presence, right? That's why his face is shining, he was in God's presence, is that right? So he comes back. His life has changed. His countenance has changed. He is visible.
Here's the principle: You can't spend real time in the presence of God and not have it change your life. If it's God you're meeting with, it's quality time and His presence. There's going to be a change, that's why you never have to announce to people, "I've been in the presence of God all day. I prayed five hours." You never ever have to announce that stuff because it will be evident that you've been in God's presence. People will know it. They'll get it.
Do you remember in the Book of Acts, the fourth chapter? Peter and John are brought before the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin saw Peter and John, it says "Saw their boldness and perceived that they were untrained and uneducated men, but they realized they had been with Jesus." "Who are these guys? Why are they so bold? What's the deal with them? They don't have the PhD like I have, but there's something about them." They've been with Jesus. They've been in his presence. Education or not, they've been with the Lord. It was apparent. It was obvious.
"Moses called to them and Aaron and the rulers of the congregation returned to him and Moses talked with him afterward. All the children of Israel came near and he gave them commandments as commandments, all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. But whenever Moses went before the Lord to speak with Him, he would take the veil off until he came out, and he would come out and speak to the children of Israel whatever he had been commanded. And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone, Moses would put the veil on his face again until he went in to speak to Him."
This tells us the fifth and final thing about why Moses' face was shining, and it's the most important one of all. But unfortunately, I'm looking and it says 8:32, and you know that I have a propensity to have a cliffhanger and you do have children and we want to keep the covenant, the Commandment. So as not to belabor it, and I know that the mind cannot retain what the seat cannot endure, so I'm going to be gracious to you and we're going to pray and we'll pick it up next week. And you'll be surprised next week at how much ground we cover.
Father, thank you for the ground we have covered. We can't but help as we read these verses, these stories to realize we're on holy ground. The Lord talked to Moses. The aftereffect of the words and whatever minimal revelation short of the full glory that he received changed him, he was different. The man glowed and the children of Israel were afraid because of what they saw, not understanding it.Lord, I pray that you'd help us as we plan our lives, as we make decisions, make priorities to make the right kinds of choices about our lives, about our schedule. We're in charge of those things. We're in charge of when we're going to get up and go to bed and what activities we're going to place in our lives. That's within our control. We decide. And the truth is we are as close to you as we have chosen to be. I pray, Lord, that we would be intentional about spending real time understanding you. And though we say we want something, You know what we need and it's the reaffirmation, the words of the covenant repeated to us, spoken to us, that gladdens our heart and brings about true worship. So as we close, Lord, it's only fitting that we too, like Moses, should bow and worship. Sing a song of joy and worship before you. In Jesus' name; Amen.