While the world and the nations seem to be heading down the road of YHVH’s judgments, we do not want this pathway to be our focus. Our Father has called us out of darkness into the marvelous Light of His Son. As His redeemed people and the sheep of His pasture, we need more than ever to find ourselves lying down in those green fields that are next to the still waters. But because we are bombarded with terrifying forecasts of impending calamities we are kept on edge, nervous about our lives and that of our families. Thus, we may even find ourselves crying out, “what must we do to be saved?!” Instead of listening for an answer, we set out to do our own saving.
As we were studying last week’s Parasha we recalled to mind an article I wrote 3 years ago, in which I mentioned a second Sinai covenant (aside from the one the people broke in the Golden Calf episode). After Moses smashed the tablets of that first covenant, which was sealed by the blood of a bull, YHVH invited Moses back up the mountain.
Before Moses left the tent of meeting (see Exodus 33:7), to convene with YHVH for the second time, he was instructed by Him to cut two stone tablets (like the ones he had broken), and carry them up the mountain the next morning. But while the first tablets originated from YHVH and were hewn at the top of the mountain, these new ones were going to originate from the bottom of the mount and be brought up to YHVH, where He would inscribe on them once again the ten words (Exodus 34:1, 2, 28). As we will see, Moses is about to have a completely different experience from his former forty-day stay on the mount. YHVH had already agreed to reveal to him His glory - “kavod”, His goodness - “tuv”, and His favor - “chen”, all of which constituted, as it were, the backside of His glory (see Ex. 33:18ff).
Just before we accompany YHVH’s faithful servant on his ascent up the mountain, let us take note of some of the differences between the previous scene and this one. YHVH sealed the first covenant with the blood of bulls. Immediately after that Moses, Aaron, and the elders all went up the mountain, where they ate and drank and saw Elohim (see Exodus 24:8-11). Following the Golden Calf episode and the breaking of YHVH’s stone tablets, the mountain became off-limits, this time to everyone except Moses (34:3). It seems that the first episode had the potential of launching an intimate relationship between Israel and their Redeemer, but instead ended with a colossal failure which speaks volumes of their condition and ability to observe the covenant. Moses, having interceded on behalf of the people, is now called back up to witness the “favor” and the “goodness” of YHVH and much more.
Moses’ earlier plea is about to be answered. The Almighty promised him that He would call out His name and make His glory known to him (33:19-23), and now the time has come. Thus, when Moses arrived at the mountain top, the cloud came down and surrounded him while YHVH passed by in front of him calling out His name: "YHVH, YHVH Elohim, merciful - “rachum”, and gracious/favor - “chanun”, longsuffering - “erech apayim”, and abounding in goodness/grace - “chesed”, and truth - “emet”… (Before we go on let us recall another text: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory -“kavod”, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of “chesed” – goodness/grace and “emet” - truth” John 1:14.) …keeping “chesed” – goodness/grace for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation" (Exodus 34:6-7). Moses was so overwhelmed with what he had just seen and heard that all he could do was to make haste and bow his head toward the earth and worship (v.8). Through this encounter, Moses was assured of his Master’s faithfulness and favor, and so proceeded to ask on behalf of the people: “If now I have found grace in Your sight, O Lord (Adonai), let my Lord (Adonai), I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance" (Exodus 34:9).
Immediately following this incredible declaration and manifestation of His name and disposition, YHVH hearing Moses’ plea for His people, declared that He would make a covenant with him and with them. But hang on, what is going on here? Is YHVH referring to the same covenant that Israel has just messed up, or is He? "Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of YHVH. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you” (Exodus 34:10). While it seems that He is referring to conquering the land and destroying its inhabitants, and indeed shortly Israel was going to have some awesome experiences while taking their inheritance, yet for a covenant to be legally in effect it had to be sealed with blood. When we examine closely the full content of the said “covenant” and YHVH’s real intent, we find that it has more to do with forgiveness of sin, iniquity, and transgression, including marvels and awesome wonders, than the 'thou shell nots' of the previously broken covenant. When was this second covenant of Sinai sealed by blood and accompanied by wonders (of healing the sick, blind and deaf and raising the dead)? It appears that the signs and marvels promised here point to Yeshua and the “miracles, wonders, and signs which Elohim did through Him” (Acts 2:22), and his followers. However, the capstone of Yeshua’s life was the shedding of His blood that sealed this second covenant of Sinai and atoned for the sins of the people so that they could become the royal priesthood and holy nation that YHVH had declared them to be.
“How precious is Your chesed [goodness/grace], O Elohim! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light. Oh, continue Your chesed to those who know You, and Your righteousness to the upright in heart” (Psalm 36:7-10).
It would be interesting to hear what the Orthodox Jewish view would be on your point. How do they perceive this covenant that, from their perspective, I guess, happened, and yet, without the shedding of blood as in the first covenant. That Hebrews said (8:7-13)ReplyDelete
7 "For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away."
AND TO YOUR SECOND POINT Hebrews 9:8-28 as follows especially vs 18-28
The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest,
18 Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.
19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,
20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.
21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.
22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.