Exodus 34:1-3. Moses’ intercession in the previous chapter moved God to renew His covenant with Israel. God ordered Moses to prepare two new stone tablets that He might once again write upon them the Ten Commandments. The tablets were complete copies of the Ten Commandments: one tablet representing God’s copy and the other for Israel. Both copies were to be kept in the Ark of the Covenant. God’s holiness and presence is a threat to the unholy, so God warned people and animals not to go anywhere on Mount Sinai.
34:4-9. Moses obeys God’s command to chisel out new tablets and appear before God. God was going to renew His covenant with Israel. But first God proclaims His great name manifested in His attributes in vv 6-9, which is the foundation of both Jewish and Christian understanding of the character of God. These words were repeated by Moses at Kadesh-Barnea (Num. 14:17–19) in judging Israel for their failure to believe God’s promise to bring them safely into the Land and were also cited in Nehemiah’s day (Neh. 9:17–18). God deals with His people through His grace. In Moses’ prayer he asks that God would forgive their iniquity and sin even though he was not guilty of disobedience thus identifying himself with the sins of the people, as did Ezra and Daniel in their prayers of confession (Ezra 9; Dan. 9). God did not compromise his nature in giving his love to Israel. He still would punish them for their sins but maintained His just and righteous character. In response to this new knowledge of God, Moses bowed to the ground in worship. Moses believed all he and Israel needed was God’s presence to carry them to the Land and beyond.
Exodus 34:10-17 In response to Moses’ prayer God granted him everything he asked for. God would go with his people. He would forgive their sin. He would claim them as his possession. God would do these things because he promised to do them, and because they were in keeping with his character as Israel’s gracious and faithful God. God’s response: “I am making a covenant with you” for the covenant to remain in effect, it needed to be reiterated, and Exodus 34 is the repetition of the covenant. Whenever we have any doubts about the love of God, all we need to do is go back to the promises he has made to us in the covenant. God saved his people for his glory. He brought Israel out of Egypt to display his power and his grace. He never did anything like this for anyone else before. This was not for Israel’s benefit alone. God did it so that other nations would see his power, love, and grace. God today is declaring his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples” (Ps. 96:3). He is doing it through Israel’s Messiah, that all who will believe in his atoning death and believe He rose again might have life, everlasting life. This good news is for the whole world. God sent Jesus “so that all nations might believe and obey him” (Rom. 16:26). The covenant God was making with Israel demanded a response. This relationship was to be exclusive; Israel was in a covenant relationship with the one true and living God. God commanded them not to make a covenant with the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, or anyone else. God is jealous “Jealous” is his name! (v. 14). V 17 is probably a reminder of the golden calf.
We usually think of jealousy as spiteful envy, but there is more than one kind of jealousy. Jealousy can be ungodly, and with man, it usually is. According to the Oxford English Dictionary the primary definition of the word is “fiercely protective.” This is how God sees our relationship with Him, we are in a marriage relationship with Him and as such He like our relationships expects fidelity. He sees idolatry as infidelity and as grounds for divorce, just as we do. There were consequences for unfaithfulness, initially discipline, but then later separation (Isa 50:1). But because Israel would not repent and continued in her rebellion so God divorced her Jer. 3:6-10. However, God promised a remarriage with Israel when she would be brought to repentance Jer. 31:31-33 and would be given a New Covenant.
Exodus 34:18-28 The Lord’s covenant stipulations in some way are repetitive and serve as a summary of the more complete covenant commands detailed in chapters 21 through 23. These words here reinforce that those obligations still apply. It should be noted that there is no word regarding the people’s response to the giving of the renewed covenant and demonstrates God’s unilateral provision. There is a priority here of Israel keeping the feasts of Unleavened Bread, the feasts of Weeks and Ingathering or Tabernacles. These three were the most important and required all males to present themselves before the Lord in Jerusalem. The first two figure prominently in the New Covenant as the day Yeshua died and the day that the Spirit of God was poured out. There is also the reminder to redeem the firstborn of sons and livestock. God also repeats the call to keep the Sabbath. During the 40 days and nights that Moses was on the mountain, the Lord supernaturally provided for his physical needs.
Exodus 34:29-35. Moses’ encounter with the Lord caused his face to become so radiant that the people were frightened but after assuring them, he called them to come to him. Initially Moses did not cover his face with a veil, but then he did. He would put on a veil when he spoke with them after being in God’s presence. But when he entered God’s presence, he removed the veil. In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul made several applications of this. He pointed out that the glory of the Mosaic legal system was fading away, but that the glory of the gospel was far more glorious (vv. 7–11). This was his response answer to the legalists who taught that obedience to the law plus faith in Christ was God’s way of salvation (Acts 15:1). Why believe in something when its glory is vanishing? He also applied the event to those Jewish people of his day, whose hearts were veiled because of their unbelief so they couldn’t see the glory of the Messiah (2 Cor. 3:14–16). The only way to remove that veil was to believe the Word and trust in Jesus as the promised Messiah. He also applied Moses’ experience to Believers, who by faith see the glory of Yeshua in God’s Word and experience a spiritual transformation (vv. 17–18). That is why we need to read the Bible daily, because as we look into His Word, we are able to see God’s Son and be transformed by the Spirit into the image of God His glory.
The book of Exodus opened with Moses seeing God’s glory in the burning bush (3:1–5), and it closes with the glory of God descending into the camp and filling the tabernacle. The presence of the glory of God in the camp of Israel was not a luxury but a necessity. It identified Israel God’s people and set them apart from the other nations as the tabernacle indicated by the glory of God (29:43–44).