Exodus 34-36: The ten words destroyed (pt.2)

We ended the last post with a slight preview of what the significance of the instructions being given, the ten words being smashed, rebuilt, and the building of the tabernacle really meant.  We will be going through these themes as best we can today and try to detect the blueprint for the future present in the book of Exodus.

1.  The new stone tablets and the Covenant Renewed – Moses’ transfiguration (Exodus 34)

2.  Tabernacle contributions and construction (Exodus 35)

3.  Construction begins (Exodus 36)

1.  The new stone tablets and the Covenant Renewed – Moses’ transfiguration (Exodus 34)

The exciting mark of Exodus 34 is this:

6The LORD passed before him and proclaimed,(H) “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and(I) gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast(J) love and faithfulness, 7(K) keeping steadfast love for thousands,[a](L) forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but(M) who will by no means clear the guilty,(N) visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

The LORD’s faithfulness, mercy, grace – slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love!  This is most encouraging, and reminds us that it is the LORD who is gracious through our half-hearted evangelism and worship; that it is by his faithfulness and love that we prevail in the Covenant which he established through Israel.

Again, the sequence of the events is quite important:  in this chapter alone

(a)  Moses provides two new stone tablets (Exodus 34:1-9) – Why a new set?  Why did Moses destroy the older tablets?

(b)  The Covenant is re-confirmed between God and Israel (Exodus 34:10-28 – a repeat of the covenant spoken of in Exodus 3, 13, 23-24).  Interestingly enough, the covenant was NOT confirmed after the 1st two tablets were established.  Again, Moses was with the LORD for 40 days and 40 nights.  Why is there a seeming repeat of 40 days and 40 nights; and why wasn’t the covenant confirmed?

(c)  For the first time we see Moses’ transfigured face (we did not see this in the last two chapters though he had also descended from God in the thickness of the clouds prior to the breaking of the 10 words on the older tablets); and this time, the Israelites did not stray nor worship new idols.  Is this representative of something?

We will be looking at these three points again after we consider the next two sections.

2.  Tabernacle contributions and construction (Exodus 35)

This is essentially a repeat of the instructions given to Moses on the mountain: and this is normally part of the Hebraic way of focusing on something, rather than using the European grammatical method of superlatives.  In Hebrew, repeating constitutes the same effect, the repeating of the Tabernacle details clearly means that the Tabernacle is far more than it seems.

What I find most edifying in this chapter is the absolute freedom in the contribution to the creation of the Tabernacle: and oh, how much the people gave!  And this was considered as a freewill offering to the LORD in v.29 (freewill offering meaning an offering of thankfulness, an offering of voluntary sacrifice):

20Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. 21And they came,(CE) everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him,(CF) and brought the LORD’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. 22So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the LORD. 23And(CG) every one who possessed(CH) blue or purple or scarlet yarns or fine linen or goats’ hair or tanned rams’ skins or goatskins brought them. 24(CI) Everyone who could make a contribution of silver or bronze brought it as the LORD’s contribution. And every one who possessed acacia wood of any use in the work brought it. 25And every(CJ) skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. 26All the women(CK) whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats’ hair. 27And the(CL) leaders brought onyx stones and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastpiece, 28and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. 29(CM) All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD.

This is the first picture of the bigger assembly of Israel working together: and remember the numbers of Egyptians who are partaking in the glory of God, and who had followed the Israelites out of Egypt.  This is the work of the church: let there be the eyes, ears, hands, arms, feet – different parts of the church giving their freewill offering in contribution to the Tabernacle: the very temple and body of Christ (the Holy Place), and contribution to the depiction of the Most Holy Place for the sake of better illustration of the Holy Trinity and our relationship with the Father through the propitiatory blood of the Son through the dividing curtains.  Like the silver used to be the foundation of the court and other aspects of the Tabernacle construction, so also the freewill offering, which is the “LORD’s contribution” (v.21 – i.e., not a contribution for themselves to give, for what they have is from the LORD), is the true foundation of the Tabernacle of Heaven and Earth (the church, not the reprobate).

3.  Construction begins (Exodus 36)

This contribution did not cease even when the construction began:

3And they received from Moses all the(CS) contribution that the people of Israel had brought for doing the work on the sanctuary. They still kept bringing him(CT) freewill offerings every morning, 4so that all the craftsmen who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing, 5and said to Moses,(CU) “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the LORD has commanded us to do.” 6So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp, “Let no man or woman do anything more for the(CV) contribution for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing, 7for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more.

What glory!  They had to cease in their contribution, for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more!  Their response is definitely very different from the response of the Israelites when the golden calf was around.  These people are filled with the Spirit, and realised that what they had, they are only giving it back to God.

In Chapter 37, we see that the construction follows the instruction: first the Ark (Exodus 37:1-9), then the Table (Exodus 37:10-16), then the golden lampstand (Exodus 37:17-24); but this time the altar of incense is not described as one of the last things (Exodus 37:25-29) – rather it is the very first thing made after the three objects which represent the Holy Trinity.  Why is there such a discrepancy between construction and instruction for the altar of incense?  To this I turn to the conclusion for the two-fold post on the 10 words and how it points to the blue-print of the events of Scripture.

Conclusion:  The Blue-print of the Future

I have already done a brief blue-print on the posts analysing Abram’s life prior to Isaac and how his travels point towards the travels which Israel and Jesus himself will make, and the future relationships between Israel and the nations.

In the same way, the events of Exodus have done a very similar thing: our God is very prophetic and forward looking, revealing the New Testament in the Old Testament.

What do I mean by that?  Well let’s consider each little point in turn:

(a)  The Father descends on Mt. Sinai on the 3rd day

(b)  Moses goes up to meet the Father after 7 days and 40 days and 40 nights – to receive the first set of tablets of the ten words, and the instructions of the Tabernacle

(c)  Moses returns, in anger, and without being transfigured.  He smashes the 10 words and the idol is destroyed.

(d)  Moses goes up the mountain again, spending another 40 days and 40 nights, this time returning transfigured, ‘re-establishing’ the first set of 10 words… or are they really ‘re-establishments’?

(e)  The construction of the tabernacle begins with the freewill offering of the church of Israel

If I may link the points (a) to (e)… Jesus meets with the Father first – and the Father proclaims that Jesus is the one whom he is well pleased with.  We don’t see this happen again until at Jesus’ anointing baptism.  In many ways, this incident reflects that time period in the New Testament, prior to Jesus’ ministry.

Then point (b) sees a time of trial in receipt of the first set of tablets of ten words which are actually slightly (but very significantly) different from the second set of ten words.  The first set related restrictively to the land of the Canaan; where the second set did not (a detail covered in Deuteronomy).  This first set of the 10 words is representing that of the period of the Old Testament: the 10 words on the first tablets pointed towards Christ, but it is a poor and limited geographical reflection.  Even Moses did not transfigure from being in front of the LORD in the creation of the first two tablets.

Yet, after the giving of the law, Israel rebelled: and the golden calf (c) is but a representation of all the idolatrous relationships which Israel will engage in after the giving of the Mosaic law. Which is why the giving of the law is marked by the death of 3000, only to be counter-reflected by the Pentecost in the New Testament.

Eventually, after the rebellion of Israel and the punishment of 3000, Moses returns for another 40 days and 40 nights to come down with a second set of tablets.  This time, these tablets have something altered, and refer no longer to the physical land of Canaan.  As a result of this meeting, Moses is transfigured, much like Christ.

As the true spiritual meaning of the law is revealed in the second set of the tablets, it is here that the New Testament is prophesied:  that the construction of the tabernacle, and the freewill offering of the Christians are an example of the global freewill offering to come, after Christ’s death on the cross.  The global freewill offering of the church/people of Christ, which occurs in an outburst after Christ’s resurrection and ascension.

Thus, the two givings of the 10 words is a reflection of the OLD and NEW Testament.  The 1st tablet, represented the Old, limited to geography and nationality.  There is not nearly as much glory in the giving of the 1st tablet, and only instructions given.  No actions were taken after the 1st tablet.  In fact, the only response it elicited was sin, and rebellion by the worship of Satan.  This is followed by the ascension of Moses, the type of Christ, and his transfigured return to give an altered 2nd giving of the 10 words.  This time, Moses’ transfiguration and the readiness of the church to freely give and build by the power of the Spirit displays the New-Testament and post-Apostolic times.  The work of Christ, after his ascension, led to the Pentecost and the giving of the Spirit to fill men and women in Christ with the ability to freely give.  This is why the Spirit is mentioned in Exodus 33-35; because He is appropriately mentioned after the giving of the 2nd set of tablets of the 10 words.  The building of the tabernacle, the (global Jewish and Gentile) church, must not have begun until after Christ’s transfigured work on the cross.  So also, the instructions only served to enable people to realise their sin in the Old Testament and build a physical but limited church to the geography of Canaan or under the label of Israel; but the true building of the universal church is one of Spirit-filled ministries, freely offering oneself to God consistently after the Pentecost, in fulfillment of the mystery of Christ, which is the inclusion of the Gentiles with the Jews in the Great Gospel.

A final word from Dev, on the two stone tablets:

The 2 stone tablets on which the Ten Words rest, represent the dual witness to Christ Himself, the Rock, the basis of all the Law, who will be shattered for our sins that we may be spared, like the temple, His body will be renewed, made again. During that time Moses intercedes for the people and the glory of the Lord is revealed, all testifying to the works of oblation and intercession of Christ on the cross.27 Thus the 2nd giving of the Decalogue is differently quoted from the first: Deuteronomy 5:13-16 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. 16 “‘Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. The Sabbath is refocused on the new land, the new creation instead of on the first creation, and now things will go ‘well’ in that land.

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Exodus 34-36: The ten words destroyed (pt.2)

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