Exodus 33-34

Sunday Evening Bible Study

June 8 , 1997


Moses had been up on Mount Sinai for forty days, receiving detailed instructions from God on how He was to be worshipped, how the people were to be acting, and how to build the portable worship center known as the Tabernacle.

When Moses came down from the mountain, he found the people had made a golden calf, and had been caught up in idolatry and immorality.

Moses has successfully interceded for the people, and God has not destroyed them, but shown mercy to them in their sin.

Exodus 33

:3 for I will not go up in the midst of thee;

God has "had it up to here" with the Israelites.

He's been gracious in not wiping them all out, but He's decided there's a limit to what He's going to put up with.

God is afraid that if He spends any more time with these people, that He'll wipe them out.

:4 evil tidings

The bad news that God wasn't going to go with them personally.

:5 put off thy ornaments from thee

Rings, necklaces, bracelets, anklets, etc.

These may have been things connected to idolatry.

Remember years ago when people used to wear gold "ankaras" around their necks? Egyptian symbols of idolatry.

It might be like taking the Playboy Bunny out of your car window. Removing the bumperstickers and license plate frames that might not be honoring to God.

These may have simply been ornamental doo-dads like we wear today, to spruce up your looks. Taking them off would have been a sign of mourning over their sinful condition.

God is looking for them to at least put on the appearance of being mournful over their sin.

I'm not sure that God was making an all time prohibition against jewelry, but that it appears to be in connection with their repentance over the golden calf.

Later on when they give of an offering for the tabernacle, they have more stuff to give:

(Exo 35:22 KJV) And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of gold unto the LORD.

:7 the Tabernacle of the congregation.

This isn't the full "Tabernacle" yet, but only a temporary tent until the regular one can be constructed.

Note: This tent was outside the camp, reminding the people that God was still an "outsider", He wasn't a part of their community. Later, the tabernacle would be pitched right in the center of the tribes as they camped.

:11 the LORD spake unto Moses face to face,

This doesn't mean that Moses actually saw God's face, we'll see this more clearly later.

It means that Moses and God had a close friendship.

:11 Joshua, the son of Nun

Apparently Joshua kept some kind of guard on this tent while Moses was gone.

:12 thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me

"God, You've just said You'll send an angel with us, but who are You sending?"

:13 show me now thy way, that I may know thee

Moses says he wants to know God better.

:15 If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.

I love this.

Moses doesn't want to go anywhere without God's presence.

There is a sense where we can never leave God's presence.

But there's a special sense of God's presence when we are in fellowship with Him, walking close to Him.

Samson took this for granted. He played too closely to the enemy's fire:

(Judg 16:20-21 KJV) And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him. {21} But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.

:17 and I know thee by name.

Moses had his request honored by God because God had shown grace to him, and because God knew Moses by name.

Has there ever been anyone real special to you who you wanted to get to know, and you knew they didn't even realize you existed? Or someone you looked up to and you were just another admiring person to them.

Relationship becomes more intimate when you are able to converse with a person, and they know who you are, they know your name.

Jesus offers us intimacy

(John 10:1-4 KJV) Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. {2} But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. {3} To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. {4} And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

:19 will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

This is kind of an interesting Scripture, and is quoted by Paul in regard to the subject of God choosing who He is going to save

(Rom 9:14-16 KJV) What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. {15} For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. {16} So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.

God chooses to love whomever He wants.

:20 Thou canst not see my face:

God is saying that He will tell Moses much about Himself, but Moses isn't going to be able to see God's face, because no human could stand it.

You'd die.

:22 I will put thee in a clift of the rock,

This is where the song "Rock of Ages, cleft for me" comes from.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,

Let me hid myself in Thee;

Let the water and the blood,

From Thy wounded side which flowed,

Be of sin the double cure,

Safe from wrath and make me pure.

Could my tears forever flow,

Could my zeal no languor know,

These for sin could not atone -

Thou must save, and Thou alone:

In my hand no price I bring,

Simply to Thy cross I cling.

While I draw this final breath,

When my eyes shall close in death,

When I rise to worlds unknown,

And behold Thee on Thy throne,

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,

Let me hide myself in Thee.

As the hymn writer teaches, this is a picture of Jesus.

He is the Rock

He was "cleft", split, wounded for us.

We are hid in Him.

It's only by being in Him that we can approach God, or know God.

:23 thou shalt see my back parts:

As Pastor Mark used to say, all Moses would see was God's "vapor trail".

Exodus 34

:1 Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first:

The God of second chances.

Even with the giving of the Law, God gave the people a second chance.


Do you show God's mercy?

Are you quick to give others a second chance?

:5-7 proclaimed the name of the LORD.

What we're going to get here is a description from God Himself as to just what He's like.

A person's name was kind of a description of their nature.

Here God is going to give us a definition of what "Yahweh" means!

I think the more we understand these qualities about God, the more we understand Him.

Note: Though God will judge sin (vs.7), note how it comes last, after all kinds of things like mercy, grace, patience, etc.

Think of how these definitions of the "name of the LORD" affect these verses:

Ex 20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

We don't mess around with God's name, we take these qualities of God seriously.

Ps 20:7 Some [trust] in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.

We remember God's grace and mercy.

Pr 18:10 The name of the LORD [is] a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.

We trust in His grace and mercy.

2Ch 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Are we "called by His name"?

Do we have His "name" working in our lives?

:8 Moses made haste, and bowed his head


When you're in God's presence, bow.

It's only proper etiquette.

Do you ever get a sense of needing to get on your knees in worship?

:12 Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant

When the people began to mingle with the pagan nations in the land, it was their downfall.

Even great Solomon, David's son, the builder of the temple, the wisest man on earth:

(1 Ki 11:1-4 KJV) But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; {2} Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. {3} And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. {4} For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.


Don't be unequally yoked.

The only one that's usually influenced is you, for the worse.

:18 feast of unleavened bread

This was the Passover, celebrated in March/April.

:20 thou shalt redeem

The idea was that since the time of the Passover, all the firstborn belonged to God.

God claimed the lives of all the firstborn, and took the lives of the Egyptian firstborn to deliver Israel.

If you wanted to keep your firstborn son (this was not an option), you had to "buy" him back from God.

:22 feast of weeks

This was Pentecost, which we discussed this morning (Acts 2).

This was fulfilled when the Holy Spirit fell on the church, and the "first fruits" of the gospel were brought into the kingdom with Peter's preaching.

:22 feast of ingathering

Also known as the Feast of Tabernacles (around September/October). Both a celebration of God taking care of the Israelites in the wilderness, as well as a celebration for the harvest being over.

Some conjecture this might be fulfilled with the Rapture, others when Jesus comes again, and the harvest is complete.

:24 I will cast out the nations before thee,

Some pretty good promises God gives when His people show up in church! Of course this was only for going three times a year! Ha!

:28 he wrote upon the tables

Apparently God rewrites the tablets (cf. Ex. 34:1)

:29 the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.

Moses had this "glow" about him when he talked with God.

Cosmetics manufacturers are still trying to copy this!

I still think there's a sense that you can tell if somebody has been spending time with God.

There's a kind of radiance about them!

(Acts 4:13 KJV) Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

:35 Moses put the veil upon his face again,

If you're not careful, you might get the impression that Moses is just trying to keep from showing off in front of the people.

But Paul tells us that the real reason for the veil was so that the people wouldn't see that the "glow" faded!

It wasn't a permanent glow, but was renewed each time Moses went into God's presence.

(2 Cor 3:7-18 NLT) That old system of law etched in stone led to death, yet it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses' face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. {8} Shouldn't we expect far greater glory when the Holy Spirit is giving life? {9} If the old covenant, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new covenant, which makes us right with God! {10} In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new covenant. {11} So if the old covenant, which has been set aside, was full of glory, then the new covenant, which remains forever, has far greater glory. {12} Since this new covenant gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. {13} We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory fading away. {14} But the people's minds were hardened, and even to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, a veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. {15} Yes, even today when they read Moses' writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. {16} But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, then the veil is taken away. {17} Now, the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, he gives freedom. {18} And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more.

We are not to follow Moses' example, but are instead to glow for Jesus, so that other's might catch the fire.

MAT 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 "Nor do {men} light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

I think that when we put it all together, we are supposed to spend time with Jesus, so we can glow, and then go out into the world and shine for Jesus.