Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Exodus 34 is a chapter that is not easy to understand. After we read through this chapter, we still may not be able to grasp what is spoken in it, because so many matters are covered. Therefore, at the beginning of this message I would like to point out two matters that may help our understanding of this chapter.
The first is that when we, the New Testament believers, read the Old Testament, especially certain books, we need to realize that in the Old Testament there are types, figures, and shadows of the divine and spiritual things revealed in the New Testament. Things that are divine and spiritual are mysterious, beyond the understanding of our natural mentality. However, we may understand these divine, spiritual, and mysterious things by the types, figures, and shadows in the Old Testament. Nevertheless, there is a problem here in that we may read about all the Old Testament types, figures, and allegories, but find it very difficult to see the significance of these things.
As a help to knowing the significance of the Old Testament types, we should realize that the record in the Old Testament does not merely concern the history of an ancient people. This record is also about us. Hence, when we read the Old Testament, we are reading about ourselves and not only about the children of Israel. We should not read the book of Exodus merely as history. We need to see ourselves in this book. Exodus contains not only the history of an ancient people; it also contains our story. It is the story of our present Christian life. Moreover, many spiritual and divine things related to our Christian experience are typified in this book. It is very important that we realize this.
Second, as we come to chapter thirty-four with this understanding, we also need to see that in this chapter we have a full recovery of the broken covenant. For this reason, many things recorded in this chapter are a repetition of what was given earlier. Exodus 34 is a chapter of repetition, a chapter that repeats what God has already spoken. Nearly everything in this chapter is a repetition.
The covenant God had made with His people during Moses’ first stay with Him on the mountain had been broken. The two tablets of testimony, which signified that covenant, had been broken and cast aside. This covenant was not broken by God, the One who gave the law; it was broken by the one who received the tables of the law. We have seen that if it had not been for Moses as God’s companion, everything would have ended there with the breaking of the covenant. The special relationship between God and His people would have been seriously damaged. However, this companion of God knew God’s heart, and he knew that God would not give up His purpose with the children of Israel. Moses knew that this purposeful God had a very strong intention, and that no one could stop Him from doing what He intended to do. Perhaps God may be temporarily delayed or frustrated, but He cannot be stopped.
Because it was necessary for God to keep His standing, His position, He needed a companion to be the mediator between Him and His people. This mediator could make propitiation in behalf of the people and appease God’s anger in that situation. As we have seen, Moses went to God as a mediator. Every point that Moses covered in his talk with God was a matter related to what was on God’s heart. This was the reason God sanctioned what Moses said and granted his petitions.
After God had been appeased, it was necessary for the broken covenant to be recovered. The tablets signifying the covenant had been broken. Now in order to recover the situation between God and His people, it certainly was necessary for the broken covenant to be recovered. Chapter thirty-four, therefore, is a chapter concerned with the recovery of the broken covenant.
Exodus 34:1 says, “And Jehovah said to Moses, Hew for yourself two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write upon the tablets the words which were on the first tablets, which you broke in pieces.” Because God had been appeased and because Moses had made propitiation in behalf of the people, the Lord had the ground to speak this way to Moses. The proposal in 34:1 was not made by Moses; it was made by the Lord. The propitiation made by Moses for the people meant a great deal to God. Apart from that propitiation, God would not have had the ground to do anything to recover the broken covenant.
In 34:2 the Lord went on to say to Moses, “And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and stand by Me there on the top of the mountain.” It was necessary for Moses to come up to the mountaintop to meet with the Lord. The Lord could not go down to where Moses was. The mountaintop was the meeting place for both parties, for both God and Moses. The meeting on the mountaintop involved Moses going up and God coming down.
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