The focus throughout these chapters is on the people as they get to work on the sanctuary. We will pay special attention to how the Scriptures present Israel in these chapters. As you consider look at Israel’s example, you should ask yourself a question. If Israel is acting thus about the Tabernacle which pointed to Christ, how much more should these things be true of me, a follower of Christ himself? How should God’s people respond to his grace?
In this passage, we see at core that Moses represents God to the people, and he does so primarily through the ministry of the Word. This passage is about mediation and proclamation. It’s about God’s Man and God’s Word. We must glory in the Word of God, even when it comes to us written by men.
The verses before us this morning give something of a positive plan for Israel to retain covenant fidelity to Yahweh. Yes, the program echoes the covenant laws of Exodus 23, but they show that Israel’s covenant with Yahweh has two key facets. Israel must reject false gods, but they must also be devoted in heart and hand to Yahweh, the true God.
In the beginning of Exodus 34, God told Moses to make two new tablets. this is a signal really for what will follow in chapters 34-35:3. At the core of Exodus 34 is a reestablishment of the covenant God gave in Exodus 20-23 and ratified in chapter 24. Verses 6-7 are crucial. But they are part of a bigger picture in this passage related to the covenant, which still hangs in the balance. This passage shows the effects of God’s grace. As the text continues, we begin to understand more the relationship of God’s grace to his dealings with Israel.
This passage follows God’s allowance in 33:17 that God would still dwell with his people Israel despite their heinous sin at Sinai. This passage reveals who God is and why he does not abandon Israel. As it shows us who God is, this passage is meant to drive us to worship.
Our passage presents to us a series of contrasts. Things we’ve read of before in Exodus are now very different. And within our text, there is a contrast between the people of Israel, the object of God’s wrath, and Moses, the man of God’s friendship. So the passage shines a light on what sin does, and what it does to the humankind’s relationship with their Creator.
Our text today continues to look at the consequences of Israel’s sin. Sin is not pretty. It never is. Even for us believers, God may forgive our sin, but there often remain consequences for our sins in this life. Sin brings about a great deal of suffering, even for those of us who are Christians. We may make one mistake in haste or poor judgment, and that sin will cost us for years and years. This morning, the Scriptures continue to teach us about the ugliness of sin.
The scene for our text today moves back up to the top of the mountain, where Moses and God have been meeting over the past several days. Here the Lord informs Moses as to what’s happened. God speaks, and he reveals his own judgment about what Israel has done. Then Moses responds. At root, this passage is about God’s view of sin and the character and efficacy of Moses as intercessor.