If you have ever found yourself on the wrong end of a failed commitment, then you have a sense of where God is coming from in Exodus 34. Israel has faithlessly responded to God’s kind commitment. Yet, God is going to choose to respond by giving Israel another chance to enter into relationship with Him. The text bears out that: As our merciful God renews His commitment to us we are transformed by Him.
- God’s Proclamation of His Character: v.1-9
Here, God makes good on His promise to Moses from chapter 33 and passes before Him. In the process, God proclaims His name to Moses. That may seem odd to us, but we must remember that at that time, a person’s name carried with it the whole of the person’s character, nature and being. In proclaiming His name, God is telling Moses all about who He is. And what a proclamation it is! I’d highly encourage you to read Exodus 34:5-7 right now. Read it slowly and purposefully. Then revel in the character of who God is. Take a moment, read God’s proclamation and thank God that He is each of these things. Seriously, stop reading this, go get your Bible and read Exodus 34:5-7. Trust me, if you’re going to read one or the other, Exodus 34 is a far better choice!
- God’s Renewal of His Covenant: v.10-28
This second aspect highlights some of the ways that Israel will demonstrate their commitment to God. This is what will make the people distinct from all others, but more than that, the covenant will become the means of identity for God’s people. There are two significant aspects that unfold around this idea of identity. One, covenant obedience protects our identity. As God forbids the worship of false gods, He is ultimately protecting Israel from falling into a place where they are indistinct from all others. Second, covenant worship reinforces our identity. As we worship God, it reinforces for us that our identity is found in Him, and in Him alone!
- God’s Transformation of His People: v.29-35
In this final section, Moses comes down off the mountain and he is transformed. God’s glory will transform God’s people. There are a few striking items that show up in this. One, God’s transformation comes through His word. It’s the Word of God that changes the people of God! This is why it’s so important for us to be in the Scriptures. Two, God’s transformation is evident to others. Everyone notices that Moses is changed. Would people in our lives notice that we are being transformed by God? Third, it requires that we continue to meet with God. This wasn’t a one-off weekend retreat that Moses had with God and never returned. No, Moses repeatedly returned to the Lord and so must we. Finally, we see in 2 Corinthians 3, as Paul recounts this episode, that God’s transformation is accomplished through Jesus. What was available to Moses, but only Moses, will be made available to all people through the work of Jesus.
As you move through this week, let us do so as people who hear all that God says He is. Let us respond in humility and worship to Him. Let us find our identity in our relationship with God and not the false saviors and futile pursuits we often seek for it in. Finally, let us allow God to transform us, through the person of Jesus, for His glory!