Exodus 33-34 Chapter Study
At this point in the story,
Moses has returned from
He’d spent 40 days there, and the people in the camp around the base of the mount had lost hope in his returning.
So they’d asked Aaron to make them an idol representing Yahweh so they could worship.
When Moses returned to the camp, he found many of the people in wild revelry around the idol and called for a drastic purging of all those who had given themselves over to it.
Then Moses went back up the mount to meet with God to find out what would become of the people in light of their quick turning away from the Lord.
God said that He would wipe the people out and start over again just with Moses, much as he’d done with Noah and the flood.
But Moses interceded on behalf of the people and pleaded that God would show mercy instead of wrath.
Now, God tells Moses it’s
time for them to prepare to resume
their journey to
1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Depart and go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’ 2 And I will send My Angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. 3 Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”
God is always true to His Word and keeps all His promises.
He’d promised Abraham, Isaac & Jacob that He would bring their descendants into the land and give it to them as their land forever.
But those descendants had proven themselves unworthy of His presence.
They were stiff-necked, like a stubborn ox that refused to yield to the yoke.
Every so often the farmer will find an ox that instead of submitting to his directions will resist at nearly every turn.
Such a stubborn ox will always want to pull in its own direction, going its own way.
And no matter how much the farmer works with it, it just seems bent on doing its own thing.
the image God uses here –
What does the farmer do with such an ox? He slaughters it!
God says, “I am holy and righteous while the people are wicked and rebellious. My holiness would wipe them out if I were to go among them, so for their sake, I will not go with them. Instead, I will send my Angel to lead them.”
Today, with the wild interest so many have in angels, we might think the people would be all excited and say, “Goodie! Angels!”
That is not their reaction . . .
4 And when the people heard this bad news, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments.
To them it was bad news that God would not go with them but would send His angel instead.
They realized this was a sign of judgment; that their sin and waywardness of heart had come to this place where God said He would not be among them.
They would still be His covenant people, and He would still make provision for their guidance to ensure they arrived safely in the place of promise, enjoying the milk and honey – but He would withdraw His personal presence from their midst.
Look at v. 3 again –
Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will NOT go up in your midst,
Now look at v. 4 again –
And when the people heard this BAD NEWS, they mourned.
This was bad news, so bad in fact they mourned over it.
Though they are a stiff-necked people, it seems they’re here beginning to “get it.”
They’re beginning to realize now that God’s presence is being withdrawn, just what the covenant with Him is really all about!!!
It’s not about milk and honey. It’s not about lands and houses.
The essence of the covenant, its greatest blessing and supreme privilege is the promise of the presence of God in one’s life!!!!!
This is the thing most people just don’t get.
They think religion is about adding a level of “spirituality” to one’s life because of a personal sense of need, which they see as a weakness.
They see no need for such ‘religion’ because they feel no need for a spiritual dimension and would never admit such “weakness” as they call it.
They think religion equals going to church, being moral, or at least being true to some spiritual ethic.
Even many religious people think of faith as nothing more than the outward trappings of ritual and piety. To them, morality IS godliness.
But it isn’t! All such religion is nothing more than “churchianity.”
Consider what Jesus said to
the church at
This was a rich and powerful church that was doing quite well in their community.
As far as “church” was concerned, they were at the top of the game.
But Jesus wasn’t even IN their church – He was outside – knocking on the door!
Or consider His message to
This was a church that was a really well-oiled machine.
They were doctrinally pure, super busy with good works, and huge!
But Jesus told them He was about to depart from them, all because they had left their first love – a simple adoration of Him.
Friends, it’s not about how deeply spiritual we are, how busy or big we are, how many outreaches and programs we have, how influential we are in the community, or how big our buildings and ministry staff.
The only thing that matters, that ought to matter, is whether or not God is in our midst!
What is it we want people to say when they visit Calvary Chapel of Oxnard?
Listen – being a Christian means having the hope and promise of eternal life.
It means a heavenly, promised land flowing with real milk and honey.
And it means being surrounded by vast hosts of angels.
But that is not the main thing – the main thing, the main point of the covenant is the presence of God in our lives!
5 For the Lord
had said to Moses, “Say to the children of
When the people demanded an idol to worship, Aaron had told them to take off their gold earrings and give them to him to fashion it from.
Now that they’ve realized how serious was their sin and the consequences it will have on their standing before Yahweh, they take off all their jewelry.
This was not the time for the adorning of their bodies – it was a time for sorrow and heart-felt repentance.
This was a mark and measure of their turning in faith to the Lord – for they were not looking just at the outward appearance of things or showing any effort at appealing to the sensual.
Genuine repentance will always find expression in a change not only of mind, but of behavior.
the Baptist said to the people who came out to be baptized in the
In other words, if they were sincere in their repentance, which baptism was a sign of, then they needed to come out of the water with a determination to make changes in the way they lived on a daily basis!
Genuine repentance will bear righteous fruit – the fruit of a changed life.
was all too easy for the people of John’s day to get caught up in the new
religious movement, and to join the crowds going out to the
Ananias & Sapphira got caught up in the excitement of revival in the earliest days of the church and decided to go along with the flow of making a donation of land.
But their motive was to simply appear holy, not to really be holy.
This happens today – a new movement starts – the Spirit of the Lord begins to move powerfully and crowds gather.
Most of those who are first involved have a genuine experience of revival and a powerful and deep work is birthed in their lives.
But then as word of the movement spreads, the lookie-loos show up, and for the sake of excitement, they ape the motions and forms of those who have experienced genuine revival.
But for them it’s nothing more than hype and the desire to be a part of something big and powerful.
When the movement subsides, as all movements eventually do, they fall away because they never really tapped in to what the revival was all about.
Virtually every revival in church history has seen this same pattern.
What marks those who are being genuinely revived is that they bring forth fruit of repentance – changes in their daily lives are made that correspond to the changes that have occurred in their hearts and minds.
7 Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle [or tent] of meeting.
Later, once the tabernacle is built, that will be called the tent of meeting.
Until then, Moses gives a visual lesson to the Children of Israel of God’s intent to not go among them by moving his tent outside the camp and pitching it there.
And it came to pass that everyone who sought the Lord went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp.
Even though the place to meet with God was outside the camp, anyone who wanted to meet with Him could go and enjoy communion with the Lord by going to the tent of meeting.
Here’s what’s amazing – though there was an open invitation to meet with God, only a small proportion of the people actually went!
Think of it – the entire nation of nearly 3 million were a part of the covenant, but only a handful availed themselves of what the covenant was ultimately about – intimate fellowship with God.
It makes you wonder about the Church – the New Covenant people of God.
We are saved by grace through faith in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.
But how many go beyond the camp of the covenant people to press in to real intimacy with the Lord?
8 So it was, whenever Moses went out to the tabernacle, that all the people rose, and each man stood at his tent door and watched Moses until he had gone into the tabernacle. 9 And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. 10 All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door.
Though there was an invitation to GO to the tent of meeting to meet with God, they stood in their tent doors and worshipped from afar!
They saw Moses go out & the glory of the Lord come down.
They could see where the glory was, but would not go forth to draw closer.
They were content to worship from a distance.
Right now, each of us has as much of God as we want.
Do you worship from a distance, from afar?
Or do you press in, past and through to worship at the foot of His throne?
11 So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.
1 John 4:12 says that “No one has seen God at any time,” so how are we to understand v. 11 which says Moses and God spoke “face to face.”
This is an example of how the language & grammar bear on our understanding on the text.
The phrase translated as “face to face” is a Hebrew idiom meaning open, plain, simple speech.
In other words, God’s revelation to Moses was not through lesser angels, nor was it via dreams or visions.
It didn’t come as enigmatic sayings, riddles, puzzles or some kind of esoteric oracle.
chose a manifestation of Himself that was something very simple for Moses to
relate to and when He s
In John 1:18, we read –
No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
In light of this, we ought to understand that who Moses encountered in the tent of meeting was none other than Jesus Christ.
We read that when Moses would leave the tent and return to the camp to take care of business – Joshua, Moses’ assistant, would remain behind at the tent.
Joshua will later take the reins of leadership from Moses and bring the people into the Promised Land.
It’s fitting that he would then move out from under Moses’ skirts to establish his own relationship with the Lord and we see him doing that here.
God’s man or woman cannot ride on the merits or godliness of others; he/she must have their own relationship with the Lord.
12 Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ 13 Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.” 14 And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
15 Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.” 17 So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”
As God has said He will not
go with them on the journey to
He knows that what makes them unique, what makes them different from all other people is the presence of God.
What good is land and prosperity if the Lord is not among them.
Moses makes his appeal for the presence of God on the basis of God’s grace.
There are many people who think that the God of the OT and the God of the NT are different gods.
They think of the God of the OT as being a deity of wrath and anger while the God of the New is a Being of love and grace.
This passage makes it clear that the God of the OT is as much a God of grace as in the NT.
The word ‘grace’ is used 5 times in these 6 verses. And chart carefully the progression of grace we see here. V. 12 -
[Moses said] You [God] have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’
Grace begins with God; its source and origin is in Him. He is the fountain and spring of grace.
It does not come as a response to anything we merit. It is not a reward or wage.
It’s the favor God chooses freely to bestow because He is God; He is free, and not bound or under obligation to anything outside Himself!
In His grace, God had chosen to make Moses His special, intimate & friend, which is what it means when it says that God knew him by name.
So, based on God’s grace shown to Moses, Moses then says -
13 Now therefore, I pray, if [better – ‘since’] I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight.
He says - “Because of Your
grace – let me know You in the same
way You know me! Then bestow u
Don’t miss this – Because of Grace, he asks for more of it!!!
We can really only ask for more grace when we first realize how totally unworthy we are of any of it to begin with.
And that awareness, the realization of our unworthiness comes with a right view and knowledge of God!
God is Holy, we are not!
What we deserve is God’s wrath and judgment.
But God, because of His sovereign love, chooses to forgive and bless us!
It’s not by works of righteousness that we have done, but by His mercy He has saved us! [Titus 3:5]
And once we find ourselves in the place of grace, God then gives us an open door to ask for more grace, more blessing!
I want to tell you a secret few Christians seem to grasp – God DELIGHTS in blessing those who stop trying to give Him reasons to bless them.
God is looking for those on whose behalf He can show Himself mighty and strong, not as a reward for them doing something for Him, but just because they’ve come to understand that this is what He is looking for.
The eyes of the Lord run to and fro across the whole earth to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are loyal to Him. 2 Chron. 16:9
As Moses has asked for more grace, then he speaks specifically about the task God has called him to -
And consider that this nation is Your people.” 14 And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us?
For Moses, the basic of all manifestations of God’s grace was His presence.
So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.” 17 So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”
Moses availed himself of the grace shown Him to plead grace for others.
God heard, and answered by pouring out grace on both he and the people he prayed for.
Moses is the template for us today.
Just as he was a man who enjoyed God’s grace, so we are saved by and stand in grace.
to use this platform erected by God’s grace to intercede for others that grace
18 And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”
I love what we’re seeing here because I can relate to it so well.
Moses used the favor shown him to ask for more grace and for a deeper knowledge of the Lord.
God answered that, and all it did was stir up an even deeper longing on his part for MORE of God!
Even though the Lord spoke to Moses in the most intimate way, Moses knew this manifestation of God was but a veiled reflection of God’s glory, an extreme toning down of His brilliance lest Moses be consumed.
Moses yearned with every ounce of His being to not see something toned down for his mortality – no, he wanted to be lifted out of his mortality to see the reality of God’s effulgent glory!
19 Then [God] said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”
God is not saying that the one who sees Him will be punished with death – He’s saying that it is impossible for a mortal to encounter God in His full glory and survive it!
The sudden awareness of one’s own sinfulness in light of God’ absolute holiness would be so profound, so deep, so inwardly disturbing it would do an emotional violence that would result in instant death.
21 And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”
God is honored by Moses’ request because this is the essence of what it means to be the child of God, to want to see and know Him.
So while for Moses’ own sake He cannot see the fullness of God’s glory in His face, He will be allowed to see the afterglow of His glory as it illuminates the air once He’s passed by.
Think of it this way – you know how you can see the light of the sun lighting up the sky after it’s sunk beneath the horizon?
That sunset is the afterglow of the sun’s brightness, which you cannot gaze directly at or you’ll go blind.
That’s kind of what Moses will see.
will place him in a crevice of one of the rocks there on
Once He’s passed, He’ll withdraw His hand and Moses will see the afterglow of the Lord’s glory.
Just that would be the boundary of what Moses could endure without being harmed!
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
Moses had already spent 40
days and nights on
But when he came down from the mount and found the people riotously dancing around the golden calf, He’d hoisted the 2 stone tablets overhead, then hurled them down, breaking them on the ground in symbolic act of the people having broken them so violently.
God tells him to prepare two new slates and to come back up the mount for another time with Him.
4 So he cut two tablets of stone like the first ones.
Then Moses rose early in the morning and went up
We explained the meaning of all this in an earlier study.
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.”
10 And He said: “Behold, I make a covenant.
Really – God is not making a
new covenant here. This is a reaffirmation to the previous covenant between He
Though the people have shown themselves unworthy of it in their terrible offense before the golden calf, because of Moses’ intercession, God gracious renews it.
Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you. 11 Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I am driving out from before you the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. 12 Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst. 13 But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images 14 (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), 15 lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifice to their gods, and one of them invites you and you eat of his sacrifice, 16 and you take of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods and make your sons play the harlot with their gods. 17 “You shall make no molded gods for yourselves.
There’s a lot here, but it boils down to this: No idolatry!!!!!!!!
No more of this golden calf thing!
God says, “I am your God, and You are My people.”
“I will not share you with anyone else, and you are not to add to Me the worship of others.”
“So be careful of who you enter in to agreements with, because those agreements may end up being a spiritual snare to you.”
The Apostle Paul will put it this way in 2 Cor. 6:14 –
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
In chs. 21-23 we read about all the Laws that constituted the Book of the Covenant, which was the heart of the Law of Moses.
As God renews the covenant, He quickly rehearses those laws in vs. 18-28.
We’ll just read these vs. w/o comment. If you want details, get the tape/CD of chs. 21-23.
First – the Passover & Feast of Unleavened Bread.
18 “The Feast of Unleavened Bread you shall keep.
Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, in the appointed
time of the month of Abib; for in the month of Abib you came out from
Second – the Law of the firstborn.
19 “All that open the womb are Mine, and every male firstborn among your livestock, whether ox or sheep. 20 But the firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb. And if you will not redeem him, then you shall break his neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. “And none shall appear before Me empty-handed.
Third – The Law of the Sabbath.
21 “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.
Fourth – The Feasts of Pentecost & Tabernacles
22 “And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of
the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s
end. 23 “Three times in the year all your men shall appear before
the Lord, the Lord God of
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
This was the second time
Moses spent 40 days on
We saw in the previous instance that while this length of time was far too long for a person to go without food and water and survive, it wasn’t for Moses because as he was in the Lord’s presence, he entered the dimension of eternity, where time has no grip or effect.
So while the time was 40 days in the reckoning of the people at the base of the Mount, for Moses, it was all just now.
And when you are in the presence of the Lord, He is all you need.
He is Living Water and Real Bread.
29 Now it was so, when Moses came down from
The time spent in God’s presence had affected a dramatic change in Moses’ physical appearance – his face shone!
The Hebrew verb for ‘shone” means ‘to shoot forth beams.’
It comes from a noun meaning ‘horn.’
The translators of the Latin Vulgate mistranslated the word here and rendered it this way “Moses did not know that he’d produced horns.”
When we were in the
It was a lotion that lightened the skin. I guess many of the Philippine ladies want a lighter complexion.
In the US, we use sunless tanning lotions to get a fake tan!
Now, lately, I’ve been seeing more and more of these lightening lotions here.
They promise the user a “glowing complexion.”
If you want a truly glowing complexion, spend time with the Lord!
I’ll never forget the first time I saw Pastor Chuck Smith.
I had no idea who he was. [Tell story – His smile and the radiant glow]
Moses’ glow was a literal light that radiated off his face.
The glory he’d been privileged to see had charged him with glory.
30 So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.
Moses was just a man – but Aaron and the others were allowed to see what man can and was meant to be when they saw Moses come down from the mount.
The light that shone from Moses’ face wasn’t from him – it was the reflected glory of God.
And this is what God originally intended for all men & women.
This is what Adam and Eve enjoyed until they sinned.
Their clothing was the glorious light of God until the Fall, then when the light was quenched, then we read they saw they were naked and tried to replace the garment of light with itchy fig leaves.
All Aaron and his companions saw in Moses was what God originally intended man to be and it was so majestic, so intense, it frightened them!
31 Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him; and Moses talked with them. 32 Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them as commandments all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. 34 But whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he would take the veil off until he came out; and he would come out and speak to the children of Israel whatever he had been commanded. 35 And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone, then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.
We might think that Moses put on the veil so the people wouldn’t be freaked out by him, but that is NOT the reason for the veil.
In 2 Corinthians 3:13 Paul explains the real reason for the veil: not so the shining face of Moses would be hidden, but so that the fading glory of his face would not be observed by the people as it passed.
Paul explains that the Old Covenant which Moses brought and represented had a glory.
But the Old Covenant was only temporary and would be swallowed up and superceded by the New Covenant in Christ.
Because the Old Covenant was only temporary, its glory, shining in Moses’ face, was also temporary and would have to eventually fade.
Moses was concerned the people would see the fading glory and lose confidence in him and his leadership, so he put on the veil.
Moses was really being prophetic in this act as Paul goes on to describe in 2 Cor. 3.
He says that to that very day, whenever the Law of Moses was read, the Jews still had a veil over their spiritual eyes, not seeing that the Law was meant to be a tutor to lead them to Christ.
Just as Moses, who represents the law wore the veil before the people, but took it off when he stood before the Lord, so Paul says that Christ takes away the veil from us and allows us to see things as they truly are and were meant to be.
We realize that the law is not some external set of rules and regulations that chart a path to heaven.
The Law is a mirror which shows us we are lost in sin and death and that only Jesus can save us from ourselves and our sin.
Once He does that, then He puts the spirit of righteousness and love, which is the heart of the Law, inside us!
And this inner work of the Spirit brings forth a new glory not unlike that which radiated from the face of Moses.
2 Corinthians 3:15-18
15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Where did the shining from Moses’ face come from?
From the time he spent in the Lord’s presence.
So whenever he went back into that presence, he removed the veil so he the glow would be renewed.
Like one of those glow in the dark signs – you charge it up by placing it in the light. The brighter the light, the brighter and longer the glow.
But eventually the glow fades and the only way to renew it is to put it in the light again.
That’s what happened with Moses and what happens with us.
beauty and attractiveness of our lives is directly pro