Exodus 34

And Stood With Him There

Moses enjoys a unique relationship with the Lord, but nothing can prepare him for the personal manifestation of the divine presence promised by the Lord. God instructs Moses to cut two tablets to replace the tablets he had broken in anger and to complete the task before the next day. Moses is filled with a joyful expectation and must have begun immediately quarrying the stones and preparing them for transport. Moses was to ascend Mount Sinai the next morning to meet with the Lord on top of the mountain. No one may accompany Moses for God's presence will so great that precautions must be taken. The danger of God's presence extended to the flocks and herds as well as the people. The only reason that Moses would be able to keep his life is because God would personally protect him. Moses rose early the next morning and went to meet the Lord with the two tablets in hand. Imagine the thoughts and emotions as they filled his mind. Moses' imagination must have run wild trying to grasp what God's self-disclosure would be like as he carried the tablets up the mountain. The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with Moses. Moses wanted to know God, and as the Lord passed before him, he proclaimed his name twice which would be a term of endearment. God is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, forgiving, and just. This should not be understood to mean that sinners will escape the consequences of their disobedience and some sins continue to have an impact on subsequent generations. Moses response to this divine encounter is to bow in worship and plead upon the compassion that God had just announced. He asks the Lord to go in their midst, pardon their iniquity, and take Israel as his inheritance. 

Covenant Renewal

God's covenant would result in marvelous works on behalf of Israel. However, Israel must obey God's commands. God renews his covenant and gives more thorough instructions concerning the people of Canaan. Israel was to reject all things Canaanite. They were not to enter into any treaties or intermarry with the people of the land. Their shrines, altars, and places of worship were to be destroyed. Israel was forbidden to make any gods cast of metal. The people of Israel were to appear before God three times annually to observe major feasts. This would be a test of faith top see whether the people believed that God was their provider and protector. Every living thing was the firstborn was to be consecrated to the Lord. The Sabbath was to be observed regardless of the season or one's responsibilities. The reference to boiling a goat in its mother's milk points to a pagan practice among the Canaanites. Moses was to write the words of God's covenant with him and with Israel. Moses communed with the Lord for forty days and forty nights. During that time, he neither ate nor drank and the Lord sustained him while he completed his task.


Moses returns to the camp carrying the tablets, but he does not realize that his appearance has been altered. Exposure to God's glory and transformed his appearance and the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. When Aaron and the people saw him, they were afraid to approach him. Moses must have wondered why his brother and his people did not offer a proper greeting and tried to escape from his presence after his extended absence. Moses asks them to stop and return. Reluctantly, Aaron and the leaders of the congregation return to him and speak with him. Surely they offered an explanation about why they attempted to flee from him. Later, the people came near, and Moses recited all the words that the Lord had commanded. When Moses finished speaking with the people, he covered his face with a veil. This would be a visible sign of separation from the people of Israel. Moses would remove the veil when he spoke with the Lord, and it seems that Moses' face remained this way until his death. God's glory changed Moses forever.

Things To Consider:

  • Do you regularly consider the privilege of being in God's presence? Why or why not?
  • If God is so merciful, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, then why does he act in wrath toward sin?
  • Are there any generational struggles for you because of your parents or grandparents?
  • How should one cope and think of those transgressions?
  • How are we supposed to maintain separation from the world around us?
  • Why are we obligated to obey God?
  • How does being in God's presence change us?