Exodus 34:1–2 (HCSB)
34 The Lord said to Moses, “Cut two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.
This pericope conveys the restoration following the golden calf ordeal. Some things to note:
- The phrase “which you broke” in Exodus 34:1, in reference to the first set of tablets, strikes me as being a bit of a double-entendre. On one hand there is the literal meaning referring to Moses breaking the original set upon seeing the Israelites apostasy. That much is clear, and possibly is tied to Moses having to cut a new pair of tablets for the second set. On the other hand, it seems there could be a spiritual meaning, referring to Israel’s apostasy having broken the commands contained on those tablets. tablets. This interpretation seems to flow nicely into God’s proclamation concerning Himself as well.
- Forgiveness and love do not mean lack of discipline and punishment. God, in Exodus 34:6-7, lists a number of His qualities (by no means a complete list), of which are “forgiving wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin” and “rich in faithful love”. But, in v7 He also confirms that “He will not leave the guilty unpunished”. We have a hard time, in our current culture, correlating those two things: forgiveness and punishment. But, the two can, and in God’s case, do, coexist. Just as the loving parent will use punishment as a tool to deter their child from danger and to keep them safe and happy, God uses punishment to refine us. Surely love is the chief ingredient in coming to know and love Christ, but make no mistake that punishment molds us into people that can love.
- Being aligned with God means caring for what, and who, He cares about. Moses, rather than pointing out how he did not sin like the rest of the Israelites, or throwing them under the bus in some other way, intercedes yet again. In fact, he puts his own relationship on the line by presenting himself, and any favor he has, as the reason for God to capitulate. It seems to me that this is a micro-model of what the church should look like: petitioning God on behalf of each other rather than back-biting.
Lord, thank You for not being done with us. In the pits of our depravity, in our embracing of ourselves and our sin, You write another set of tablets, make another offer, continue to forgive our sins. I pray that we each can model Moses, coming before You on behalf of our brothers and sisters. Help us to remain Yours, and lean on You when we must endure the punishment of our sin. Amen.