Exodus 34:1-10 Sermon Notes


Chris Warszawski

Today we are continuing in our series in the book of Exodus. If you have a copy of the Scriptures, we are going to be in Exodus 34:1-10. The passage we are looking at is an important one, so much so that it is either quoted and referred to time and time again all throughout the Old Testament.

And it is God’s response to a request that Moses made of God.

And it is no small request, it no small ask.

In Exodus 33, Moses made a big request of God. Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” Exodus 33:18

Well known 19th century theologian and preacher Charles Spurgeon said of Moses’ request, “Why, it is the greatest petition that man ever asked of God.”

Now it’s interesting that Moses would ask this of God. Here’s why…

Moses had already seen glory. He saw it at the burning bush, on the top of Mt. Sinai, in the tent of meeting, and through all the miracles. Yet Moses longed to see more. He had a taste of glory, but it made him long for more… and so makes his request to God – please show me your glory.

And God answers and says, Moses you can’t handle all the fullness of my glory, but: “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ Exodus 33:19a

In chapter 34, Moses will get a partial glimpse of the glory of God, and as he does so will you and I get a glimpse of God’s nature, and we will see that God Himself is the Answer to the Great Petitions of our Lives.

Read Exodus 34:1-4.

The first set of tablets weren’t broken because the people were negligent… they were downright rebellious. Therefore, when God told Moses to bring two replacement tablets… It was a picture of God’s grace.

The commandments were an invaluable gift to the people. The law itself reflects God’s mind and will. He doesn’t change based on how people respond to His will. He doesn’t lower his own standards or undermine his own design. Why? Because God’s Nature Doesn’t Change.

Read Exodus 34:5-7.

Moses is on the mountain and God does what He said He would do. God descends in a cloud, stands before Moses, but doesn’t reveal His full glory… only some of it. He makes His goodness pass before Moses. And truthfully, we can’t fully comprehend what this scene looked like. But what we can understand is that God proclaims His name and nature to Moses. Why is that so significant? Because…

God’s Glory Is Revealed in His Name & Nature and God’s name and nature are completely connected.

The name of which God uses for himself, Yahweh, was so sacred that the Israelite people that they wouldn’t even say it. This was the same name that God revealed to Moses at the burning bush. It means… “I am… or, I am who I am…” His name reflects his uniqueness, his self-sufficiency, and his self-existence.

But to fully understand the significance of God’s name, we need to also understand the significance of God’s nature. And what God proclaims and reveals about himself. And God now reveals how He relates to us. And this is important because all of us come with our own presuppositions about what God is like. And all of us come with presuppositions about how God relates to us. But we don’t have to and shouldn’t allow our presuppositions to get in the way of not only knowing Him rightly or responding to Him rightly.

This is why the Scriptures are so important. We don’t have to guess what God is like or how He relates to us or how He wants us to relate to him because has God has revealed Himself to us in His Word.


The Scriptures are ultimately a story. Pastor Allistair Begg once said, “The Bible is one story that unfolds in one book, by one author, about one subject. A story that moves from promise to fulfillment.”

Theologian CS Lewis said, in talking about the Bible… said that Christ Himself is the true word of God, and that… “The Bible, read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers, will bring us to Him.”

And the blessing and benefit you and I have to be living at this time in history is that we know that God not only revealed Himself to Moses on Mt. Sinai, but God has also revealed himself in His Son, Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6, Hebrews 1:3a, Colossians 1:19.)

So, as we approach what God says about Himself to Moses on the mountain, so too we must recognize that these things are both revealed to us in God the Son, Jesus Christ, in his nature, how he relates to us, and how we should respond to Him.

God Proclaims That He Is Merciful and Gracious

The Hebrew word for merciful here, rahum, is probably better translated as compassionate. (Exodus 3:7-8, Matthew 9:36).

If you’ve been in the church world for a while, I you have heard this term grace, over and over again. And often we can take the word “grace” to mean a lot of different things, and we ought to be careful not to reduce “grace” it to a sentimental idea, but a weighty reality. The best definition I’ve read is this: grace is undeserved favor. It is the one, true God’s favor that is extended but not because of any merit of its recipient.

Some of us grew up in religious traditions that would say, “Hey, your salvation is dependent on your performance.” In fact, most world religions say, “do these things first… and you will be accepted… or you’ll have salvation… and have God’s favor…” But that is not what the Gospel teaches (Ephesians 2:8).

God is Slow to Anger

The Israelite people were a complaining, grumbling, rebellious people. And God was patient with them. They needed a patient God. And so do you and I. Too quickly we forget – even every good thing about our lives… from the very breath in our lungs to the salvation that those of us In Christ have received… they are the result of God’s grace… His favor that we don’t deserve. Too quickly we forget His goodness. And too often… like the Israelites… we lean into our own sinfulness and rebellion. The apostle Paul, the great missionary and church planter, who God used to write much of the New Testament scriptures… Even he dealt with this struggle. (Romans 7:15, 19.)

God Abounds in Steadfast Love & Faithfulness

Israel needed God to be what they couldn’t. The people of Israel were fickle, and their affections were too easily swayed by their desires and appetites, as seen by their rebellion. In different parts of the book of Exodus, God uses some seemingly harsh illustrations and prostitution language to describe Israel’s bent towards unfaithfulness toward him. You can read some of that for yourself this week by reading verses 11-17 as God gives them further specific instruction for how they can remain faithful to him. And while this language might seem harsh, it was truthful – because the Israelites were an unfaithful people who had the capacity to revert again to unfaithfulness. (Titus 3:3-4a.)

God’s hesed, His goodness and lovingkindness, appeared to us in His son, Jesus Christ. He offers salvation – a way out from the power of sin, which leads to destruction. Come to him. For those whose lives have been wrecked by sin, He is abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

God Forgives Sin

After the peoples’ rebellion had been found out in Exodus 32, Moses asked God to forgive their sin. The Hebrew word for forgiving here means to lift or carry. What God does, is he takes the burden of our guilt, and carries it away. And only God can do this.

God is Just

If God is indeed just, then injustice has to be dealt with. God says He “will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” Exodus 34:7b How do we reconcile His justice and His love? It is reconciled at the cross. There, God poured out justice and at the same time displayed love. (Romans 3:23-26.)

Jesus Christ was and is both the just One and the Justifier.

The question is not whether or not a perfect, holy God will judge and punish your sin and my sin. And the question is not whether or not he will deal your injustice and my injustice against both Him and against our neighbor. The question is not whether God will deal with all injustice. The question is when.


Read Exodus 34:8-10.

Moses has two responses to God.

Moses Responded in Worship

    This is the appropriate response. Worship means to ascribe worth to God. It is to recognize all the things about God. That He reveals about Himself and to praise Him for who He is, and to bow in humility and submission and gratitude.

    Moses’ Responded in Longing

        The revelation of God’s person and character humble Moses and cause him once more to plead for God’s grace to be given to his people, stiff-necked and rebellious though they be. Moses longed for God’s grace for his people.