This week we will look at Exodus 34. There is a big front porch at the beginning, however.
We are actually only a week away from finishing Exodus. Today we're going over chapter 34, then chapters 35-39 simply record the construction of the tabernacle and the furnishings and the priestly garments we've already delved into in detail. So chapter 34 and chapter 40 will really be all we have left. Today we’re going to study a subject we find in Exodus 32 that I kinda passed right by when we were reading that chapter. Exodus 32:21—And Moses said to Aaron, "What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?" look at what he’s saying—Moses tells Aaron that Aaron brought the sin upon the people—even though the people were the ones clamoring for Aaron to make the golden calf. This is a principle that we find throughout the OT—the people are punished for the sin of either their high priest or their king. We see an example of this in Leviticus 4:1-3—1 Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying…“3 if the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people...” (The KJV says “If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people.” Not quite accurate). God considers the high priest to be the representative of the people. And when the high priest sins, being the representative of the people, he brings guilt not only on himself, but on the entire people. We see this fleshed out in 1st Samuel 3:12-13—“12 I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.” And we see that promise fulfilled in 1st Samuel 4:10-21—10 So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent. There was a very great slaughter, and there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 Also the ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died…19 Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas' wife, was with child, due to be delivered; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured…she bowed herself and gave birth…21 Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel!" Was all of Israel involved in the sin of Eli and his sons? BUT—because Eli, being high priest, knew his sons were corrupting the most important office on earth, God laid that iniquity on the entire nation.
We see an example of a king bringing God’s wrath upon Israel for his own actions in the life of David. 1st Chronicles 21:2-12—2 So David said to Joab and to the leaders of the people, "Go, number Israel from Beersheba to Dan, and bring the number of them to me that I may know it." 3 And Joab answered, "May the LORD make His people a hundred times more than they are. But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord's servants? Why then does my lord require this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt in Israel?" 4 Nevertheless the king's word prevailed against Joab...5 Then Joab gave the sum of the number of the people to David…7 And God was displeased with this thing; therefore He struck—David? No, He struck Israel. 8 So David said to God, "I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing; but now, I pray, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly"…11 So Gad [the prophet for David] came to David and said to him, "Thus says the LORD: 'Choose for yourself, 12 either three years of famine, or three months to be defeated by your foes with the sword of your enemies overtaking you, or else for three days the sword of the LORD—the plague in the land, with the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.'" It was David and David alone who decided to number Israel because of his own pride—but it was the entire nation who bore the brunt of God’s anger.
And as with many of the principles we’ve seen over the last couple weeks, this also goes back to the Garden of Eden and the sin of Adam. Were you born yet when Adam sinned? Not hardly. If you were, you look pretty good for your age. I haven’t met many 6000-year old people in that good a shape. We were not yet born when Adam sinned—but guess whose head that sin fell upon? Romans 5:12, 14—12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam. Why do we die? Because we sin. If you don’t want to die, don’t sin. Oops, too late. We die because we sin—and why do we sin? Because we inherit that from our father Adam. Did we choose to inherit that sin? BUT—just as the sin of Eli the high priest was imputed—or, put on the account of—the people of Israel; just as the sin of David was imputed to the people of Israel; and just as Moses told Aaron that he had brought sin upon the people, the sin of our great-great-great-skip a few-great grandfather Adam was imputed to us. How? Through birth. Psalm 51:5 (NET)—I was guilty of sin from birth, a sinner the moment my mother conceived me. Psalm 58:3 (NET)—The wicked turn aside from birth; liars go astray as soon as they are born. Let’s go back to Genesis, right after the flood. The waters subside, Noah builds an altar and makes a sacrifice to God, and God says, Genesis 8:21—“I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth.”
That’s the bad news. However—that just gets you ready for the good news. Just as the sin of the high priest was laid on the people; just as the sin of the king was laid on the people; just as the sin of Adam was laid on us—we have One on whom our sin was laid, if we believe. In Romans 5:15-19 Paul lays out his case that even though all men were made sinners by Adam’s one sin, all who believe in Christ are made righteous by Christ’s one act of obedience. We’re gonna break it down verse-by-verse. Romans 5:15 (NASB)—But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if [since] by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many—because of Adam’s one act of sin, every man dies; grace and life were given to many because of Jesus’ one act of righteousness. Romans 5:16—The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification—the judgment is: Adam’s one sin brought condemnation to all who will ever be born; by one free gift we are justified and pardoned from many sins. Romans 5:17—For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ—pretty easy: because of the sin of one man, death reigned in all men; but because of the gift, righteousness will reign in those who receive grace. And then he sums it all up in Romans 5:18-19—18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. Just as Adam’s sin led to death to all men, Christ’s one act of righteousness is put into the account of all who will ever believe. He has perfected us, he has given us His righteousness to the point that we even become the righteousness of God in Him (2nd Corinthians 5:21).
And if we are in Christ, we are united to Him and we are one with Him. When Christ appeared to a young Pharisee named Saul of Tarsus, what was the question He asked him? Acts 9:4—"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" Did Saul arrest Christ? Was Christ being led to Jerusalem to be imprisoned and murdered? No. Who was it that Saul was leading to Jerusalem to be put in prison and killed? Christians. And as a matter of fact, they were not yet being called “Christians.” These people who were thought of as following the teachings of a dead Jewish rabbi were being called simply “The Way.” Acts 22:4—“I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.” What does Jesus call Himself in John 14:6—“I AM the Way, the Truth, the Life.” Matthew Henry—
“He thought he was persecuting only a company of poor, weak, silly people, that were an offence and eye-sore to the Pharisees, [not thinking] that is was one in heaven that he was all this while insulting…Note, Those who persecute the saints persecute Christ himself, and he takes what is done against them as done against himself, and accordingly will be the judgment in the great day.”
In fact, Jesus makes this very fact plain when He tells the people what He will say to the unrighteous in that Day, in Matthew 25:44-45—“44 Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' 45 Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'” However, when a good work is done for one of those who belong to Christ, it is counted as being done for Him. Matthew 10:40—“He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” And when we receive Christ, we receive pardon for our sins, we are seated in the heavenly places with Him (Ephesians 2:6), and we are given His righteousness and His life—all because His one act of righteousness has overcome the one transgression committed by our father Adam.
So now turn to Exodus 34:1-7—1 And the LORD said to Moses, "Cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke. 2 So be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself to Me there on the top of the mountain. 3 And no man shall come up with you, and let no man be seen throughout all the mountain; let neither flocks nor herds feed before that mountain." 4 So he cut two tablets of stone like the first ones. Then Moses rose early in the morning and went up Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him; and he took in his hand the two tablets of stone. 5 Now the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation.
A couple things before we get to the main point. Here is another example of the simultaneous judgment and the mercy of God, or as Paul called it Romans 11:22 (NASB)—The kindness and severity of God. He had just commanded the sons of Levi to slaughter 3000 of their fellow Israelites for their idolatry—yet He spared for the time being those who fled from that very same idolatry. A second thing I want to mention is this—in verse 7 God says He will “visit the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” There are folks who make a lot of money on the myth of the “generational curse.” If you “Send your $1000 seed and Pastor Pete will show you how to break your generational curses.” In the Hebrew, I believe the word they would use is “baloney.” Under the old covenant, did God “visit the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations”? Yes. However, does He do this under the NEW covenant, does God “visit the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations”? No. Ezekiel 18:1-4—1 The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, “2 What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying: ' The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge'? 3 As I live,” says the Lord GOD, “you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel. 4 Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die.” And in that chapter God lays that out in more detail, that each man will be punished for his own sins—not for the sins of his father.
In fact, Jeremiah 31—in that passage where God announces He will make a new covenant—He says this very same thing, Jeremiah 31:29-32—“29 In those days they shall say no more: ' The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge.' 30 But every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge. 31 Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them,” says the LORD. So this notion that there are still “generational curses” is false—if you sin in the same way your father sinned, it’s because you chose to sin that sin—not because you are under some “generational curse.” People are responsible for their own sins—not for the sins of their parents.
Exodus 34:8-9—8 So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped. 9 Then he said, "If now I have found grace in Your sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance." Do “good people” go to Heaven? Did Jesus come to save “good people”? No. In fact, I could stand here and rattle off verse after verse, chapter after chapter, that says that there is no such thing as a “good” person. And if anyone ever tells you that “Ya gotta get right before ya get saved,” tell them they're full of baloney. I won’t go so far as to call it heresy—but it’s a whole lot closer than I ever want to get. In fact, the first step in salvation is realizing that we are a filthy worm; we are a dirty, disgusting sinner who has hated God and that we need to be saved. In the Beatitudes, Jesus does not say, “Blessed are the wealthy…Blessed are those who know that they deserve to be saved…Blessed are the healthy and prosperous.” Matthew 5:3-10—“3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful…8 Blessed are the pure in heart…10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake.” And then, in Luke, we find Jesus reading off a list of woes to those who thought they were good enough to be saved. Luke 6:24-26—“24 But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.”
A little later on, when He called Matthew, a tax collector, to be one of His apostles, Matthew 9:11-13—11 When the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" 12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." Charles Spurgeon—
“What was it that made Christ a physician at all? Was is not because men were sick with sin? Suppose they had been perfect—would Christ have ever been a Savior if men had not been lost? Brethren, it would have been…a folly, a monstrous folly, on His part—to undertake an office which was not required of Him! It is sin which makes room for His work as a Savior...It is sin which makes room for His work as a Savior…He is only a Savior because there are sinners and His Saviorship is based upon our sinnership!…What was it that made Him shed great drops of blood? Was it human guilt? Or do you think, perhaps, human merit? Why guilt, and guilt alone! What made Him give His back to the scourgers and His cheeks to the smiters? What made Him stretch His arms to the Cross and give His feet to the nails? What made Him bear the insufferable wrath of Almighty God? Was it man’s goodness? Why you cannot think of such a thing! It was human vileness, villainy, degradation, iniquity which made such sufferings as these all necessary! As I see, then, Christ…I see Him every moment thinking of sin! Sin! Sin! SIN! Man’s sin makes Him die.”
And of course the apostle Paul picked up on that theme when he wrote in Romans 3:10-16—10 There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God…13 their throat is an open tomb…15 their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 destruction and misery are in their ways…18 there is no fear of God before their eyes. Who is the “they” in that paragraph? You. Me. The person sitting next to you. Let me read it for you the way if we want to get real about it. Romans 3:10-16—10 There is none righteous, no, not one—and that means me; 11 I do not understand; I do not seek after God…13 my throat is an open tomb…15 my feet are swift to shed blood; 16 destruction and misery are in my ways…18 there is no fear of God before my eyes. So, who deserves to be saved? No one! That’s why Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, in Ephesians 2:8-9—8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works. And because God has laid our sins to the charge of His Son Jesus Christ, He can truly say that He is Exodus 34:6-7—“6 The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but by no means clearing the guilty.” He does not simply brush off sin. There must be payment. Either you make the payment in Hell forever, or you accept that Christ made the payment for you.
Then in Exodus 34:10-26, God gives Moses a condensed version of that first covenant. If you recall, when Moses saw the people dancing around the golden calf, he took the two stone tablets which contained all the terms and conditions and commandments of that covenant and threw them down and they shattered—the first case of someone “breaking the Law.” So He tells Moses to cut out another set of tablets like the first. The first thing He commands is that the people not make a covenant with any of the pagan nations around them. We talked about that last week, and how it we are to be holy—sanctified, separate, set apart to God. Does that mean that we as Christians should completely avoid anyone who is not saved? Absolutely not! 1st Corinthians 5:9-11—9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. Jesus commands the church that if anyone is living in sin, and they won’t stop sinning, to go them personally, then take one or two witnesses, and then take them before the entire congregation, and then if they refuse to bend to the commands of Christ, to put them out of the church. And to not have anything to do with them. Can we be friends with people who do not know Christ and do not even claim to know Him? Yes. Are we to take part in the sinful things they do? No. And we are commanded to separate ourselves form those who claim to be a Christian while they are in the midst of living a life that is filled with things like fornication, idolatry and other such things.
Exodus 34:27-28—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." 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. “The Ten Commandments”—the Hebrew word translated ‘commandments’ is דַטַר (davar). It literally means ‘word.’ So, the “The Ten Commandments” would be more accurately translated “The Ten Words.” Therefore, we could read this to say, And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Words. It’s almost as if God was saying, “OK, you people couldn’t follow those commands, so let Me make it real simple for you. See these words? Follow them.” So God, again, takes His finger and writes on these tablets The Ten Words He wrote the first time. And one point I want to make before we finish up is this—here again we see in Moses almost a visual prophecy of Christ. Between Exodus 20 and Exodus 34, Moses goes up and down the mountain three times. Up in Exodus 20, down in Exodus 24. Back up again in Exodus 24, back down in Exodus 32. Went up in the beginning of Exodus 34, came back down at the end of the chapter.
Turn to Matthew 26:36-45—36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there." 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me." 39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." 40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." 42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done." 43 And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.”
What happens when the people of God take their eyes off of God? They go to sleep. They get carried away into areas they shouldn’t ought to go. We see that with Moses—the people declare, “All that the LORD has said we will do and be obedient!” And yet when Moses goes up the mountain, what happens? “Hey Aaron, make us a cow to worship!” And Aaron says, “Duh, OK!” The people forgot the goodness of God and Aaron let himself get swept up into their idolatry. We see that here with Peter—who said, “Even if I go to prison, or even if they threaten my very life I will never deny You!” And yet, not too long after Christ leaves to pray in the garden, the apostles fall asleep, they scatter when the Romans come, and even Peter would eventually wind up denying he knew Christ—not once, but three times. Again, Charles Spurgeon—
“He left 8 of His disciples at the entrance to the Garden…Thus, there ought to have been two [groups] watching and praying. If they had all been on the watch, they might have heard the footsteps of the approaching band and they would have seen…the lights of the lanterns and torches of these who were coming to arrest their Lord.”
Or, as Jesus warned them in Matthew 26:41—“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” Knowing that we are just as human as those apostles; we are just as human as the people at the bottom of the mountain who wanted to worship a cow, if we are not watching and praying, guess what we’re going to enter into? Temptation, and if we enter into temptation what else are we likely to enter into?
We conclude Exodus next time.
Jesus Christ is Lord.