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Exodus 34.27-35-Putting The Covenant In Writing And Moses' Face Reflects Glory Of God

Exodus Chapters 33-40  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:24:05
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Journey Through The Bible Series: Exodus 34:27-35-Putting The Covenant In Writing And Moses’ Face Reflects God’s Glory-Lesson # 59


Wenstrom Bible Ministries

Pastor-Teacher Bill Wenstrom

Sunday November 4, 2012

Journey Through The Bible Series: Exodus 34:27-35-Putting The Covenant In Writing And Moses’ Face Reflects God’s Glory

Lesson # 59

Please turn in your Bibles to Exodus 34:27.

Exodus 34:27 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with 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 did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. (NASB95)

The Lord’s instructions to Moses in verse 27 mark its formal approval by the Lord.

Putting the covenant in writing constituted a sign of its restitution, which is what Moses had been seeking with the Lord for the last two chapters.

Ever since Moses destroyed the original copies of the Ten Commandments, he was acknowledging that Israel had broken the covenant with the Lord and was seeking the reestablishment of the covenant.

Like the original copies, the Lord Himself wrote down the Ten Commandments on these two tablets of stone (Exodus 34:1), thus, “he wrote” in verse 28 is a reference to the Lord and not Moses.

“These words” is a reference not only to the Ten Commandments but a reference to all the covenant commands.

In other words, everything from Exodus 20:18 up to this present point in the narrative would have to be written down by Moses.

The contents of Exodus 25-31 with the exception of narrative portions as well as Exodus 34:10-26 would have to be written down by Moses.

Verse 28 makes clear that this all took place for forty days and forty nights in the Lord’s presence with Moses eating and drinking nothing during this entire period.

Consequently, this would be a test again for the nation of Israel since they would have to wait for Moses to come down from the mountain after a long period of time.

Moses spent forty days and forty nights on Mount Sinai receiving the original copy of the Ten Commandments and the instructions that appear in Exodus 25-31.

When he came back down the Israelites were worshipping a golden calf.

Now, once again Moses is on Sinai for the same period of time, which will test the Israelites’ faith in the Lord once again.

Stuart argues that the expression “Forty days and forty nights” “may not be intended as a literal description of the time Moses was on the mountain. ‘Forty’ has an idiomatic usage in Hebrew, conveying the same sense that ‘dozens’ or ‘a great many’ can convey in English.”

A person could survive forty days without food but not forty days without water.

So what we have here is either Stuart’s contention that the number forty is idiomatic for what we would say “a great many” or this was in fact a miracle.

The statements in Exodus 34:29-35 record a miracle, namely that Moses’ face shined so that the Israelites were afraid to approach him.

If being in the presence of the Lord could make Moses’ face shine, its not beyond the realm of possibility and in fact quite likely that the Lord gave Moses the supernatural ability to serve Him forty days and forty nights without eating or drinking a thing?

It is likely that from His omnipotence the Lord sustained the human body of Moses during those forty days and forty nights.

So Exodus 34:28 presents the second occasion in which Moses spent forty days and forty nights in the presence of the Lord.

The first is found in Exodus 24-32, which is summarized in Exodus 24:18.

Also, Deuteronomy 9:9-25 as well as 10:10 indicate that Moses spent forty days and forty nights in the presence of the Lord on Mount Sinai on two separate occasions.

In fact, Deuteronomy 9:18 says that Moses fasted forty days and forty nights because of Israel’s sin of worshipping the young golden bull.

He did this to identify with the sin of the Israelites since he was their leader as well as to entreat the Lord for forgiveness and blessing.

Exodus 34:29 It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him. 30 So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers in the congregation returned to him; and Moses spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the sons of Israel came near, and he commanded them to do everything that the Lord had spoken to him on Mount Sinai. 33 When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. 34 But whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he would take off the veil until he came out; and whenever he came out and spoke to the sons of Israel what he had been commanded, 35 the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with Him. (NASB95)

The emphasis on this pericope is clearly the face of Moses shining after being in the presence of the Lord forty days and forty nights, which is obviously a miracle with obvious and not so obvious implications.

The obvious one is that Moses was in fact in the presence of God that it left an effect on the body of Moses.

The other obvious implication is that God was present with the Israelites and had not abandoned them and had forgiven them, which would encourage them.

Related to this, it confirmed that the Lord had delegated authority to Moses to be the leader of the nation of Israel.

Another obvious implication is that Yahweh was superior to the pagan gods since no other nation in history could claim that one of their number who spent time with their god, terrified the others because of his appearance being affected by their god.

The not so obvious implication is that it taught that if a believer is intimate with the Lord, they might not notice its effect on them since verse 29 says that Moses was totally unaware that his face was shining.

Another not so obvious implication is that God’s glory reflected on the face of Moses faded over time, which represents the fact that the Old Covenant, i.e. the Mosaic Covenant is inferior to the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:3-34), which is taught by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:7-18.

In 2 Corinthians 3, the apostle Paul is teaching that when the believer is diligent in remaining in fellowship with God by obedience to the Holy Spirit who speaks to them through the communication of the Word of God, they are being transformed into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ in that they become imitators of Him.

The more the believer has intimate fellowship with the Lord, the more their thinking and conduct is transformed into the image of the Lord.

The more obedient a believer is to the Spirit who speaks to them through the Word of God, the more they will reflect the character of Christ in their lives.

This process and its result is identified in Paul’s writings with the noun epignosis, which refers to an “experiential knowledge.”

This word refers to personally encountering the Lord Jesus as He is revealed by the Spirit in the pages of Scripture through the process of fellowship and being affected by that revelation in the sense that it conforms the believer into the image of Christ.

Verse 31 records Moses speaking with his brother Aaron and the rest of the Israelites.

Based upon the Lord’s conversation with Moses as recorded in chapters 33-34, this would indicate that Moses communicated to the Israelites all the Lord’s instructions.

Of course, Moses would tell them that the Lord had forgiven them for their great sin as well as the Lord’s willingness to lead them to Canaan while in their midst once again, which would have been encouraging to the Israelites.

In verse 32, we have the Israelites approaching Moses and listening to the instructions that the Lord had given him.

Concerning the Israelites, they could be sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that when Moses said to them he was communicating the Lord’s instructions for them they were listening to the very words of God and were thus accountable to Moses since he was the Lord’s messenger to them.

Verse 33 records that Moses put a veil over his face after speaking with the Israelites while verse 34 says that he would not use the veil when speaking with the Lord.

He would take off the veil when communicating to the Israelites the Lord’s instructions for them.

So it is clear that the veil was for the sake of the Israelites, however, he used the veil not because being exposed to his face would harm the Israelites but rather he wore it because it frightened the people so much that they could not stand to be in his presence.

He had to take it off in order to teach the Israelites so as to be heard.

But when he didn’t need to be heard, he put the veil back on.

He needed to be near them as their leader so the veil was employed.

Verses 34-35 clearly suggest that Moses spoke with the Lord face to face on more than one occasion which would result in the glory of the Lord shining through Moses’ face.

This is clearly implied by the word “whenever” in verse 34, which means “every time that.”

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