Reading through the Bible together
In response to the renewal of Israel’s covenant relationship with God, new tablets of stone are to be hewn by Moses, and the same laws are now to be dictated to Moses on the mountain. The rewriting of these tablets after Moses destroyed them at the sight of the golden calf demonstrates the eternal and permanent nature of the law as the basis for God’s covenant with His people. No covenant can be renewed without this basis of understanding the relationship and stipulations of the covenant. God’s self-declaration in Exodus 34:6-7 reminds us that we serve the LORD God who is gracious and longsuffering and keeping mercy for thousands and forgiving iniquity. What a great promise for us today who continue to suffer from the same condition as ancient Israel!
God calls not only for obedience in relationship to His covenant but for the complete destruction of pagan gods so that they do not become a temptation and snare to Israel. As was already seen in the festivities surrounding the golden calf, such things could easily occur again. They are given specific instruction again not to make molten images and to destroy the altars, images, and cut down the groves where these idols were worshiped. As we see later in Scripture, these injunctions were not always followed by Israel and there came a time when idols were actually placed in the temple of Jerusalem by king Manasseh of Judah in the seventh century BC. The cult of "asherah" worship was very prevalent at that time, according to the archaeological record as hundreds of clay goddesses were uncovered. The majority of these images do not appear in Philistia or Phoenicia, but 96% have been found in Judah, and nearly fifty percent of those, in Jerusalem itself. Certainly God knew what a temptation these images would be for Israel.
How is it today in our lives? If time should last, what would archaeologists say about us thousands of years from now when they excavate our homes? How would they interpret the black TV screens situated on the walls of our living rooms and bedrooms with furniture strategically facing them? Will they interpret these as objects of worship? How much time do we spend with God’s Word every day in comparison with the other distractions of life? God’s words found in this chapter are still true for us. “For the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” He longs to be our all in all!
School of Religion
Southern Adventist University