Thursday, May 05, 2016

When Life Is As Shattered As The Original Two Tablets

God’s Instructions on the Renewing of the Two Tablets

Exodus 34:1-5: Now the Lord said to Moses, “Cut out for yourself two stone tablets like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered. So be ready by morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to Me on the top of the mountain. And no man is to come up with you, nor let any man be seen anywhere on the mountain; even the flocks and the herds may not graze in front of that mountain.” So he cut out two stone tablets like the former ones, and Moses rose up early in the morning and went up to Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and he took two stone tablets in his hand. And the Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord.
You will remember that Moses broke the first set of tablets of stone, the ones written with the finger of God (Exodus 32:19). He broke them because Israel broke the covenant. What we have no record of, however, is who made the original two tablets – was it God or was it Moses?  The first time the word ‘tablets’ is mentioned is in Exodus 24:12 when God says to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandment which I have written for their instruction.” But here in chapter 34, Moses is instructed to “Cut out for (him-)self two stone tablets like the former ones.”  Was there really a change and if so, why?
Both Matthew Henry and Robert Jamieson clearly detect the change in process. It was Israel that broke the covenant, not God. God was willing to reconcile with them but somehow, perhaps for purposes of remembrance of what they had done, it was Moses as their leader that this time had to come up with the raw material and God only had to retrace the original inscription. Henry says when the law was first, both the tablets and the writing were the work of God and intended to be written upon the heart of man. After these laws were broken and marred by sin, God used the ‘ministry of man’ to set things right. He ordered Moses to renew the tablets, but He would still write His laws on them.
As I consider this change of process this time around, I start to wonder about the implication of what God was indicating by having Moses cut out the stone tablets. I believe that even as New Testament Christians the moral law of the Old Testament (i.e. the Ten Commandments) must be adhered to. As Henry says, while we are no longer under the curse of the law, for Christ has redeemed us from it, yet we have not been freed from following what God wrote on those tablets. [Think of it this way. A father tells his son that he must obey the rules but because of his incredible love for his son, he tells him that he will not be punished for not doing so. Does that ethically free the son from following his father’s rules, especially if he confesses to love his father?]  That’s what Matthew 5:19 is all about.  In this verse Jesus, as Henry writes, “in effect renew(ed) the tables, and made them like the first, that is, reduced the law to its primitive sense and intention.” Not to what the religious rulers of the day held them to be – a curse for us as we could never hope to have kept them all perfectly.
It surprises me greatly that so many of our brothers and sisters today want to completely forget about the law – especially when Jesus talks so much about it. Henry continues,  
“That the best evidence of the pardon of sin and peace with God is the writing of the law in the heart. The first token God gave of his reconciliation to Israel was the renewing of the tables of the law; thus the first article of the new covenant is, I will write my law in their heart (Heb. 8:10), and it follows (v. 12), for I will be merciful to their unrighteousness.

Let’s get off that bandwagon of “no longer needing the Old Testament” and/or not having to pay attention or to consider the Old Testament laws, especially the Ten Commandments.

Moses did exactly as God had asked him to in cutting out the tablets he was to take to God. And we can make some inferences about them. First, they were not extremely heavy as he was able to carry them, up a mountain. The passage says he presented himself alone to God. Henry reminds us that their dimensions were less than what would fit into the ark of the covenant later.  The latter being a 1.25 yards long and 0.75 yards wide. They were not elaborate for Moses had one day to get them cut. Their beauty was to be provided the next day when God Himself would inscribe them.

As I studied this, I saw a parallel between what was going on and what God really does with, in, and for our lives. He was saying to Moses, “Look you shattered My Law which I gave you, but I will replace it for you. Do this and then let me breathe life into those stones again with My own finger.” Only for us, He does it with the life and blood of His Own Son, Jesus Christ. Can you see the parallel there?

Then God tells Moses to be ready “by morning”. Moses did not have a long time to think about it; the offer was there for him to accept and to work on right away.  The parallel continues for me as I realize that “now is the day of salvation”, not later, not on our death bed, because who knows if we will even have a chance to reflect on God’s gift “as we lie dying”.

God wants Moses to go up to the top of Mount Sinai and present himself to the Lord. While God reaches down to call us, we need to move up to Him to accept His work of salvation for us. We need to move away from the influence of the world and draw near to Him. And we are to “present” our self as one who presents him- or herself before a king. Only this is no ordinary liege; He is the Lord God Almighty, Ruler of rulers King of kings.

And did you notice what else God instructed Moses to do? He was to make this trip alone. No one, not even Aaron could go with him. In fact, God wanted no one to be even visible on the Holy Mountain when He was calling Moses to come to Him. Wait, that’s not all. God said, “I don’t even want flocks and other herds on the Mountain grazing that day.” No Moses, this is a trip that you have to make all by yourself. And so it is with us when we have to make that decision trip to accept the free gift of salvation that God offers us. There’s another parallel we can note here. When God calls a man to come up to Him, that man (or woman) does not need to go through a mediator or a priest. He/she can go directly – alone – just he/she and God.

So Moses followed God’s instructions precisely. He cut out two stone tablets, got up early and went up to Mount Sinai alone. And there God met him. He descended in the cloud and met with Moses as He had promised. And when Moses sensed that God was in the cloud and present, the text says “he called upon the name of the Lord.”

Is your life shattered? God is giving you another chance. Maybe for you it is more than the second or third or whatever number. That does not matter. God is not counting.  He wants you up the Mountain alone to present yourself to Him and accept His gift to you. And God is saying “Come now; this cannot wait, my child. You can’t go on living a shattered life any longer.”

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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

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