March 9, 2023
“The Lord said to me at that time, ‘Cut two stone tablets like the first ones and come to Me on the mountain and make a wooden ark. I will write on the tablets the words...”
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“The Lord said to me at that time, ‘Cut two stone tablets like the first ones and come to Me on the mountain and make a wooden ark. I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets you broke, and you are to place them in the ark.’” Deuteronomy 10:1-2 (HCSB)
Today’s passage is a wonderful picture of God’s grace. Israel had willingly sinned against the Lord by making a golden image, yet He gave them a second chance.
It has been argued that Israel should not have been held accountable for the calf because the 10 commandments had not been given at that time. Not so.
The “tablets” had not been delivered, but the Lord had already spoken His commandments directly to the hearts of each Israelite. This was prior to Moses’ ascension of the mountain to receive the tablets. Scripture tells us each person had heard the voice of God from the fire on the mountain.
“Then the Lord spoke to you from the fire. You kept hearing the sound of the words but didn’t see a form; there was only a voice. He declared His covenant with you.” Deuteronomy 10:12-13
Think of the scenario in terms of a standard business contract. A contract is binding when two people agree to the terms, whether written or not. First, the two parties get together and define the terms. Once they agree on the terms, a formal contract may be drawn up, but a verbal contract is still binding as long as there are two witnesses.
When speaking to Israel, the Lord says, “I call heaven and earth as witness against you.” Deuteronomy 4:26 The covenant had mutual terms and sufficient witnesses. Hence, Israel was already “under contract” before the commandments were written on tablets.
Here’s the grace of this passage: After Israel had broken their contract (so soon after entering it), God allowed Moses to go back up with blank tablets. He (the Lord) literally gave them a “blank slate”! From there, God re-wrote the 10 commandments.
The word “Torah” does not mean “Law” (although it has become synonymous with “law”). “Torah” means “Teaching.” God’s purpose for mankind is not just to give us a standard and say, “Live under it or die!” He is also patient and compassionate to TEACH us how and why we should trust Him. His desire is to commune with us, even more than our desire to commune with Him. It has been said that the Bible is the story of 1) God’s desire to redeem men and 2) mankind’s efforts to redeem themselves apart from God.
God is the Holy and Righteous Judge; His Commands are the standard by which all mankind will be weighed. Since our salvation comes exclusively through Messiah Jesus, it further heightens our appreciation of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. (Hebrews 2:1-4)
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©Steve Wiggins 2021