THE BIBLE’S BIG THEMES
Holy One, cover my sin with your mercy, meet my repentance with your forgiveness, re-possess me with your Spirit today.
Read EXODUS 34:1–17
The New Stone Tablets
34 The Lord said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2 Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. 3 No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain.”
4 So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the Lord had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. 5 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”
8 Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. 9 “Lord,” he said, “if I have found favor in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.”
10 Then the Lord said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you. 11 Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 12 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. 13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles.[a] 14 Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
15 “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. 16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.
17 “Do not make any idols.
- Exodus 34:13 That is, wooden symbols of the goddess Asherah
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Begin your worship with a prayer focusing on confession. Confident of his love for you, ask for God’s forgiveness.
Today’s reading highlights perhaps the two biggest themes in the entire Bible. The first is second chances. That’s what God is giving Moses and the Israelites by replacing the first stone tablets with a second set. After Israel’s failure around the golden calf, God now provides this opportunity to renew the covenant with his people. That’s the big story that began in the Garden of Eden and culminated in the advent, death, resurrection, and eventual return of Jesus Christ. This passage is an early preview of God’s plan of salvation.
The second big theme is God’s self-revelation: that’s what the Bible is. In the Old Testament God shows us who he is primarily through mighty works and prophetic words; here those two come together in one incredible experience (v 5). Stop and marvel that we are reading the Creator God of the universe describing his own character! First, he tells us he’s ‘compassionate … and forgiving’ (vs 6,7), which reminds us that giving second chances is an extension of God’s character, not just Plan B. The flip side is we shouldn’t take this for granted; continuing in sin has long-term consequences (v 7). The next thing we learn is a little surprising: God says he is jealous (v 14). On the surface, that could have a negative connotation, as with the Pharisees and teachers of the law centuries later, but here it is positive: God passionately cares about and wants the best for his people, which is why he forbids them from worshipping other gods. Ultimately, God’s clearest self-revelation was his own Son, the Word made flesh.1 Jesus Christ was God’s greatest work, God’s final Word, the one and only second chance he offered for all people to be restored to him.2
In what ways, big or small, has God given you second chances in life? Express your thanks to him for each.
Mighty God, your immense mercy and your incredible love have embraced me. I am stunned into silence when I think of your patience and forgiveness.
1 John 1:14 2 John 14:6