New European Commentary


About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan

Deeper Commentary

34:5-7 The ultimate pattern for mission is in God Himself. His Name, YHWH, means ‘I will be who I will be / am who I am’. And the declaration of His Name is followed by statements of how He ‘will be’ grace, love, justice, judgment etc. (Ex. 34:5-7).  He will work out His purpose of glorifying the characteristics of His Name. If we align ourselves with this aim of glorifying God’s Name, then our lives become focused, our aims and goals are clearer. Our baptism into the Name means that His mission, His restless, 24/7 working towards the goal of His glory filling the earth, becomes ours.

The overriding desire of the Lord was for the glorification of Yahweh’s Name, not proving others wrong. God’s Name is His characteristics (Ex. 34:5-7). We glorify that Name when due to us, those characteristics are manifested somehow- maybe through others, or through ourselves. The fruits of the Spirit glorify those characteristics  / the Name of Yahweh. When the Lord saw faith, or joy, or repentance, or even the possibility of these things in men, He worked to develop them. He didn’t give up because they were also selfish or unloving or not joyful…And so with us, as the petty selfishness and weaknesses so evident in the flesh of our fellows presses upon our consciousness, focus instead on what is good, on what potential is there, and work on that. Abound in the life of grace, of outgiving when there is no response and no appreciation; and rejoice to live it, and see the honour of being called to live the life of the Saviour in your little life. John Thomas rightly observed that God manifestation rather than individual human salvation is the essential aim of the preaching of God’s word. The Lord Jesus struggled in Gethsemane between “save me...” and “Father, glorify thy name”. The glorifying of the Father’s Name meant more to him than his personal salvation. Likewise Moses and Paul [in spirit] were prepared to sacrifice their personal salvation for the sake of Yahweh’s Name being glorified in the saving of His people (Ex. 32:30-34 cp. Rom. 9:1-3).

34:7 The fact punishment was not always given until the third or fourth generation may simply reflect God’s characteristic grace in relenting upon His threatened judgments. But it may also be because the judgment is carried out by the Angels, who changed their decreed intentions with Israel, Moses and others.

34:9- see on Ps. 90:8.

Moses seems to have pleaded with the Angel to change His stated purpose of not going up with the children of Israel through reminding the Angel of the mockery this would bring Him into among the nations around. Thus Ex. 34:9 shows Moses pleading for this "O LORD, let my Lord (the Angel) I pray thee, go amongst us" after the clear statement in Ex. 33:3 "I will not go up in the midst of thee". So let us not be afraid to ask God to change what seems like His purpose in our lives, no matter how hard it seems, if we truly feel that another way would give Him more glory. Moses would not have tried if he did not think success in that prayer was possible. But he not only tried, he succeeded. Also consider  Ex. 32:11: "Moses besought the face of the LORD (A. V. mg-i. e. the Angel) and said, LORD, why doth Thy wrath wax hot against Thy people, which Thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt (the Angel did this). . turn from Thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against Thy people". Thus Ezek. 20:17 says that God's eye (the Angel) "spared them... in the wilderness" when they provoked Him. Psalm 90 is Moses meditations on the fact that his generation were slowly dying in the wilderness, and on the vapidity of life at that stage. And yet he is bold enough to plead with God to change His purpose- "Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent Thee concerning Thy servants. O satisfy us early with Thy mercy (i. e. don't leave it till some distant point in the future when Messiah is here to show me Thy mercy- do it early, do it now). . make us glad according to the days wherein Thou hast afflicted us. . " (v. 13-15). So from his previous experience of changing God's purpose , Moses was not afraid to try and do so again. This possibility of God changing His mind about this is shown by the Hebrew of Ps. 95:11: "That they should not (Heb. 'If they enter', as AVmg.) enter My rest". The ambiguity here nicely shows the possibility of them entering.
The Angel's eagerness to repent and willingness to accept even the slightest sign of repentance in His charges, explains why Moses was so willing to strive to make the Angel repent by his prayers. Thus in Ex. 34:9 Moses asks the Angel to forgive the people' sin, although it was one of the Angel's stated principles not to do so (Ex. 23:21). Moses had had personal experience of such repenting; the Angel "sought" to kill him, but God changed his mind due to Moses' repentance (Ex. 4:24).

:14 Jealousy is a lead feature within Yahweh's personality (Ex. 20:5; 34:14). It speaks specifically of the jealousy of a man concerning the faithfulness of his wife (Num. 5:14). God was the passionate lover and husband of His people, and it is inevitable therefore that the extent of that love would produce jealousy when they spurned Him and went after other men, the idols.

34:27 The commands which constituted the covenant were given to Moses personally (Neh. 1:7,8), insofar as  he represented Israel. Thus there is a parallel drawn in Ps. 103:7: He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel" . " After the tenor of these words have I made a covenant with thee and with Israel" (Ex. 34:27). In the context of describing Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, they are said to have been delivered from “the basket” (Ps. 81:6 RV)- clearly associating them with Moses’ deliverance. Is. 63:11 (Heb.) is even more explicit: " He remembered...Moses his people" . Moses seems to have appreciated fully his representative role on that last glorious day of life when he addressed Israel: " The Lord said unto me...I will deliver [Og} into thy the Lord our God delivered into our hands Og" (Dt. 3:2,3). David recognized this unity between Moses and Israel; David describes both Israel and Moses as God's chosen (Ps. 16:5,23). Moses is described as encamping in the wilderness, when the reference clearly is to all Israel (Ex. 18:5). Moses recalled how “the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have delivered up Sihon and his land before thee [you singular- i.e. Moses]; begin to possess it, that thou [you singular again!] mayest inherit his land”. Yet Moses then comments that therefore God “delivered” Sihon “before us” (Dt. 31,33 RV). The land and victory that Moses personally could have had- for it was God’s wish to destroy Israel and make of him a new nation- he shared with Israel. Ex. 7:16 brings out the unity between them by a play on words: “The LORD God of the Hebrews hath sent me [lit. ‘let me go’] unto thee, saying, Let my people go”. “Let go” translates the same Hebrew word as “sent me”. Just as Moses had been let go by Yahweh, so Israel were to be.

34:34 We each, with unveiled face, have like Moses seen the glory of the Lord Jesus (2 Cor. 3:18). When Moses saw the glory, he was immediately given a ministry to preach to Israel, to share that glory with them (Ex. 34:34). And Paul drives home the similarity; we each have had the experience of Moses, and so “therefore seeing we (too, like Moses) have this ministry”, “we each” are to exercise it to Israel.

34:33-35- see on 2 Cor. 3:15-18.