Exodus 34:10-35

Sunday Morning Bible Study

November 18, 2007


When Moses first brought the Israelites to Mount Sinai, an incredible thing happened – they actually heard the voice of God give the Ten Commandments.

At that time the people entered into a “covenant” with God

(Exo 24:3 NKJV)  And all the people answered with one voice and said, "All the words which the LORD has said we will do."

But when Moses was gone for forty days getting all the details of the covenant, the people had already broken their promise to God by worshipping the golden calf.

Covenant = a contract between two parties.

When you agreed to the loan on your car, you became part of a “covenant” – the bank loaned you the money and you agreed to pay it back.

When you bought your house you made a “covenant” with the bank.  They gave you money, you purchased the house, and you agreed to pay the bank back.

Car companies, banks, and money … sounds like something in the news…

When you got married you entered into a covenant.

One of the definitions of marriage comes from the first marriage – Adam and Eve – and we get a description of the covenant of marriage.
(Gen 2:24 NKJV)  Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
This definition of marriage involves two things:
Leaving – you both choose to leave the influence of your other relationships, even that of your parents.
Cleaving – you both choose to be connected only to each other.

What had happened on Sinai between God and the Israelites was a covenant.  And yet the people broke the covenant before they even really got started with it.

God is going to re-do the covenant and give the people another chance.

But God doesn’t just repeat everything that He’s already told Moses.  If you pay attention here, you will see that what God is doing is giving the people a clue as to how to make a covenant work.

There might be some lessons here you could apply to your marriage covenant.
There might be some lessons here that apply to your relationship with God.

:10-17 Removing Bad Influences

This is the “leaving” part of covenant building.

:10 And He said: "Behold, I make a covenant. Before all 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 will do with you.

:11 "Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I am driving out from before you the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.

:12 "Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst.

The bad influences aren’t just back in Egypt. Things up ahead are going to be a problem as well.

:13 "But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images

God didn’t want them studying the Canaanite gods, He wanted them destroyed.

:14 '(for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),

Jealousqanna’ – jealous (only of God); from qana’ – to envy, be jealous, be envious, be zealous

There’s a good kind of jealousy and a bad kind of jealousy.

The husband that is always suspicious of his wife, afraid that every man in the room is flirting with her, this is a sick man and this is a bad jealousy.

If a husband loves his wife, he doesn’t want to share her with other men – he doesn’t want anyone else kissing her.  This is not a bad thing, this is a good thing, a good kind of jealousy.

This is God’s kind of jealousy.

Could you imagine getting married, getting into your car after the reception, and when you get home with your new bride her new boyfriend is sitting on the sofa?

This is in a sense what has just happened to God.  He’s made a covenant with Israel, but before the ink is dried on the wedding license, the bride has already been unfaithful.

:15 "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,

:16 "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.

As Christians, it’s a good thing to be friends with your neighbors.  I think God wants us to be an influence on those around us.

But sometimes the influence works the other way around, and our own compromise can lead to the world influencing our households.

:17 "You shall make no molded gods for yourselves.

The most current display of bad influences (the golden calf) came from Egypt.

molded gods – remember the golden calf? (Ex. 32:4)

The exact same word is used in:

(Exo 32:4 NKJV)  And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, "This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!"


Change the Influence

If you want success in your “covenant relationship”, you need to pay attention to what’s influencing you.
A drunk person driving a vehicle is labeled as “driving under the influence”.
If you are under the wrong influence, things need to change.
Jesus said,
(Mat 5:29-30 NKJV)  "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. {30} "And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

The point is not really about plucking out your eye or cutting off your hand.  The point is to do whatever is necessary to remove the bad influences.

For the person trying to lose weight – if you don’t change your eating habits, it just isn’t going to happen.  Better yet, if you don’t change the food that’s in your pantry, it isn’t going to happen.
For the person struggling with alcohol or drugs.  You may need to stop visiting the liquor store or your drug dealer.  You may need to change your friends.
For the person struggling with pornography.  You may need to get a filter put on your computer.  You may need to throw away your computer.
In a marriage – is there something that’s harming your marriage?  Is there something that keeps you from spending the time you need with your spouse?  Is there another person that’s gotten into the middle of the marriage?
Change for your life probably isn’t going to happen if you don’t change the influences in your life.
Nobody can do it for you.  You need to deal with it.

God didn’t fire Tomahawk missiles at the Canaanite altars.

He asked Israel to destroy them.

:18-28 Time with God

The next section talks about the various times that God wants to spend with His people.

It’s like the “cleaving” in a marriage, a man and woman being close to each other.

:18 "The Feast of Unleavened Bread you shall keep. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, in the appointed time of the month of Abib; for in the month of Abib you came out from Egypt.

:19 "All that open the womb are Mine, and every male firstborn among your livestock, whether ox or sheep.

firstborn – the Passover was about God dealing with the firstborn of Egypt.  When Israel sacrificed their Passover lambs, they were doing that in place of their own firstborn children dying.  This is all connected with the Feast of Unleavened Bread

:20 "But the firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb. And if you will not redeem him, then you shall break his neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed.

:21 "Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.

The seventh day – it might appear that God only wants to see the people three times a year at the annual feasts.

But that’s just going to Jerusalem three times a year.

The Sabbath day was a local observance – a “holy” day, time set apart for God.

in plowing time and in harvest – the busiest times of the year you still take time for God

:22 "And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year's end.

:23 "Three times in the year all your men shall appear before the Lord, the LORD God of Israel.

appear before the Lord – this was wherever the Tabernacle was, eventually it meant Jerusalem.

Three times in the year Passover (Unleavened Bread), Pentecost (First Fruits, “Weeks”), Tabernacles (Ingathering).

Why go to Jerusalem 3x/year? I think the idea is to keep worship pure and on track.  The days before printing and the Internet – how do you keep everyone from going off into crazy doctrines?  Get them together and teach the Scriptures.

:24 "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 the year.

neither will any man covet your land – The temptation might be to stay home from church and protect your farm from invaders.

The temptation is that “there’s too much work at the office” and you start skipping church every week.

I understand that sometimes you don’t have a choice as to when your boss schedules you.
But for those of you who are the boss, make sure you don’t use your business as an excuse to skip out on time with God.

God promises to protect your farm and increase your land if you will honor Him.

Honor God with your time – He promises to bless you

:25 "You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leaven, nor shall the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover be left until morning.

Leaven is a symbol of sin in the Bible.  The Passover was to be celebrated with unleavened bread (like pita bread or matzo crackers)

left until morning – the Passover feast was to remind the people of the quick getaway from Egypt in a single night – there were no leftovers.  It was also supposed to paint a prophetic picture – a lamb that was slain, a sacrifice being paid in a single afternoon.

:26 "The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring to the house of the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk."

firstfruits – referring to the feast of Pentecost.

boil a young goat – this is the reason behind the Kosher law of not eating meat with dairy products.  Perhaps it was to be a lesson in civility, not being crass and cruel.


Growing closer

The covenant not only needed a limit on bad influences, but a building in of time with God.
This is like the “cleaving” part in marriage.  A husband and wife need to cultivate the things that build their relationship just like we do with God.
Elements of “cleaving”:
Together Time– the Sabbath & the Feasts (v. 21-24)

With God – going to church, hanging out with Christians.

With marriage – you need to spend time with each other – go on a date!

Giving – the firstborn, the firstfruits (vs. 19, 26)

We don’t give because God is needy, we give because it demonstrates that we know where it came from, and we trust Him.

With marriage – is your relationship about “getting” or “giving”?  Do you realize just how selfish you can be?  How upset do you get when you don’t “get” what you want?  Learn to give, not get.


Doing things right –No leaven, no leftovers, no boiled kids (vs. 25, 26)

There’s a right and a wrong way to do things.

Good relationships are built on good things. Show Seinfeld Clip

Seinfeld is a popular television comedy based on the humor of comedian Jerry Seinfeld. In an episode entitled "The Fire," Jerry's friend, George Costanza (Jason Alexander), attends a child's birthday party at an apartment at the request of his girlfriend, Robin. While a clown is providing entertainment for the kids, Robin's mother approaches him: "Excuse me—you must be George. I'm Robin's mother. You seem like such a lovely young man." "Well, I do what I can," George sheepishly replies. Robin joins them. "Hi, Ma. How is everything?" "This is just a wonderful party!" "Well, the burgers should be ready in a minute," Robin says before she goes to talk to someone else. Her mother also leaves to talk to someone she recognizes. George, standing alone, says, "What's that smell? Is that smoke?" As he walks into the kitchen, he is startled. "Everybody! I think I smell some smoke back here! Fire! Get out of here!"  George runs out of the kitchen in a panic, knocking over the clown, an old lady with a walker, and a couple of kids. "Get out of my way!" he yells, as he opens the front door of the apartment and runs away. In the very next scene, George is outside getting oxygen from a group of paramedics. "It was an inferno in there!" he tells them. Suddenly the clown runs over to George and says, "There he is! That's him!" Several angry children and Robin's mother gather round. "That's the coward that left us to die!" cries Robin's mother. The clown tries to hit George with an oversized shoe. The next scene shows George standing by a fireman, a paramedic, the clown, Robin, and her mother. He tries to explain his actions: "I was trying to lead the way. We needed a leader, someone to lead the way to safety." Robin objects: "But you yelled, 'Get out of my way!'" "Because as the leader," George continues, "if I die, then all hope is lost. Who would lead? The clown? Instead of castigating me, you should be thanking me. What kind of topsy-turvy world do we live in where heroes are cast as villains, and brave men as cowards?" "But I saw you push the women and children out of the way in a mad panic," someone yells out. "I saw you knock them down. And when you ran out, you left everyone behind." "Seemingly," George refutes. "To the untrained eye, I can fully understand how you got that impression. What looked like pushy, what looked like knocking down, was a safety precaution. In a fire, you stay close to the ground. Am I right? And when I ran out that door, I was not leaving anyone behind. I risked my life making sure that exit was clear. Any other questions?" The fireman offers just one more: "How do you live with yourself?" "It's not easy," George replies. In the final scene of the clip, George is in a restaurant with Jerry. "She doesn't want to see me anymore," George says, referring to Robin. "Did you knock her over too, or just the kids?" "No, her too. And her mother." "So you feel 'women and children first' in this day and age is somewhat of an antiquated notion?" Jerry says. "To some degree, yeah." "So basically, it's every man, woman, child, and invalid for themselves?" "In a manner of speaking," George replies. "She should be commending me for treating everyone like equals." "Perhaps when she's released from the burn center, she'll see things differently," Jerry says.

Seinfeld (Season Five) (NBC, 2005), directed by Tom Cherones; submitted by Jerry De Luca, Montreal West, Quebec, Canada

Do you just laugh at George, or are you honest enough to see some of your own selfishness and excuse making in him?

Building relationships require time together, giving instead of getting, and doing things the right way.

:27 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel."

tenorpeh – mouth; extremity, end

(Exo 34:27 NLT)  And the LORD said to Moses, "Write down all these instructions, for they represent the terms of my covenant with you and with Israel."

We’ve seen God give a much more detailed list of commandments back in Exodus 20-23, this is just a summary of some of those commandments.  God isn’t replacing the things He said before with new things, He’s just summarizing what He’s already said.

:28 So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

forty days – the last time Moses was on Sinai was also for forty days, complete fasting, no bread or water.

(John 4:34 NKJV)  Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.

God writes out a second copy of the Ten Commandments for Moses.

:29-35 Moses’ Shiny Face

:29 Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses' hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him.

shoneqaran – to shine; (Qal) to send out rays; (Hiphil) to display or grow horns, be horned


(Exo 34:29 NASB)  …Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him.

It seems that Moses didn’t know that he was “shining”.

:30 So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.

Maybe they thought he was radioactive and they didn’t have their protective suits!

:31 Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him; and Moses talked with them.

:32 Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them as commandments all that the LORD had spoken with him on Mount Sinai.

God has renewed His covenant with Israel – Moses reiterates to the people all that God has told him.

:33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face.

veilmacveh – veil (only here in vss. 33-35 in OT)

Some have suggested that this practice of Moses covering himself is part of the reason why some Jewish men cover themselves with a prayer shawl, a tallit, when they pray or worship.

From the Jewish Encyclopedia: The allit is worn by all male worshipers at the morning prayer on week-days, Sabbaths, and holy days; by the azzan (cantor) at every prayer while before the Ark; and by the reader of the scroll of the Law when on the almemar (the pulpit). In earlier times the allit was likewise spread over the canopy at the nuptial ceremony.

:34 But whenever Moses went in 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.

:35 And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone, then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.

Paul compares the Law with the Spirit, comparing the old and new covenants:

(2 Cor 3:7-18 NKJV)  But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, {8} how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? {9} For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.

Moses’ face was shining – that’s glory.  If the Law brought this much glory, wait ‘til you see what the Spirit can do.

{10} For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. {11} For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. {12} Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech; {13} unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away.

It seems that Moses kept the veil on when he was in front of the people because he didn’t want them to see that the glory faded.

{14} But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. {15} But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.

When the Law is read in the synagogue, the reader is supposed to wear a tallit, a prayer shawl.  Paul is suggesting that there is more being covered than just the head of the reader, that the hearts of the listeners are also covered with a veil.

{16} Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. {17} Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. {18} But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Moses took off the veil when he was in God’s presence.  He was affected by the glory of God.

When our hearts are “unveiled”, we are affected by a greater glory and are changed to be more and more like the Lord.


J.Vernon McGee:  Perhaps some of you remember Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story about the great stone face. A little lad lived in a village where there was a mountain with a rock formation which they called the great stone face. The people had a legend that someday someone would come to the village who would look like the great stone face. He would do wonderful things for the village and be a means of great blessing. That story really took hold of the lad. During his lifetime he would gaze at the great stone face at every opportunity that he had, and he would dream of the time someone looking like the great stone face would come to the village. Years passed and as time went by, he became a young man, then an old man. He was tottering down the street one day when someone looked up and saw him coming and shouted, “He has come. The one who looks like the great stone face is here.” This man had looked at the great stone face for so long that now he bore its image.

Do you want to be more like Jesus? Spend time gazing at His face.  That’s what happened to the disciples.

(Acts 4:13 NKJV)  Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.