It’s time to set God’s word down in stone again. Most of what Moses writes here was given to him earlier by God. But now it is his time to inscribe it into the stone.
The last time Moses was on the mountain top with God much of the focus was on the tabernacle that was to be built. I’m not doubting that God gave Moses those instructions again. He was there 40 days and nights. Moses was busy writing the words of the Lord the whole time. He didn’t even take meal breaks.
One thing I notice God focusing on in this encounter deals with other gods. That was Israel’s most recent HUGE sin. God does NOT want a repeat of that performance. So He takes care in addressing this area. He doesn’t stop with “Have no other gods before Me” but goes on to say “Have no dealings with others who worship other gods.” He is especially referring to those He is about to drive out of the land He intends to give to Israel. “I will drive out before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites” (verse 11). ALL these nations will be displaced, in God’s time. But more than their people being moved out to make way for Israel, their gods are to be torn down so only the true God remains.
If you look back through Israel’s history, some of the people from these nations have already been included in the lineage of Israel. There is no other way all of Jacob’s sons and grandsons could have acquired wives if not for taking them from the people around them. Even Joseph had an Egyptian wife. But with foreign people also came their foreign gods.
Twice in Israel’s history, up to today’s point, God had ALL the household gods removed from among His people. Just a short time ago in our story God also had a “national god” removed, ground to dust and sprinkled in the water. God did NOT want a repeat of any of these experiences. “No associating with ungodly people, and they can’t bring in their false gods.”
God didn’t stop at “no treaties” but He went all the way into the marriage relationship with foreign peoples. Israel’s population was large enough to support marriage within itself exclusively. Originally with Jacob and his sons, there was a need for “outside bloodlines” but now that wasn’t necessary. And if those inside His chosen people stay within their own kind, dedicated to the Lord, there will be no need to “clean” the people from foreign gods again.
God clearly outlined all the ways Israel could get into trouble with other gods. He drew up perfectly logical scenarios and pointed out just how dangerous they were. Those seemingly small things or isolated issues would actually take Israel down paths they couldn’t come back from. Not without His help and grace.
God’s other instructions/reminders focused on keeping Him always on the minds and hearts of the people. It is impossible to NOT think of God when you are observing a weekly rest in His honor. Or when you are to appear before Him three times a year. Or when you are to redeem the firstborn of all your herds, flocks, and household. Or when you are to present your offerings and sacrifices to Him. These acts serve to bring the whole people’s minds back to Him. God wanted to be the first thing they thought about when they woke in the morning and the last thing they thought about as they lay down to sleep at night.
THIS attitude would keep His people far from sin. He had so many great things in store for His people, if they would only stay true to Him. He was promising again to stay true to them. He renewed His promises and had Moses rewrite His statutes for the people. “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel” (verse 27). God gave Israel a do over.
I have a question here. When Moses brought the first tablets down from the mountain God was the one who wrote on them and He covered them both front and back. Moses is the one doing the inscribing here and he writes “the Ten Commandments” on his tablets. My question is, did God write more on His first set of tablets or was His writing larger? I’m certain it took more work for Moses to do the inscribing than it did for God to do His. Is this why we are not told it covered both sides of the tablets? Or were the words exactly the same and we only ascribe the Ten Commandments to the final stones? They were the “outline” of all of God’s covenant, as we saw earlier on the mountain. Did God feel this was all that was needed to remind the people of His full instructions? And was Moses there for 40 days because of the “writing” involved or was he originally on the mountain that same amount of time too?
Father God, I know my life would be a LOT better if You were the first thing on my mind in the morning and the last thing on it in the evening. It is a WHOLE LOT HARDER to sin when I’m thinking about You. I have Your Holy Spirit living in me and He alone makes falling into sin difficult. I have a confession to make here; Your Spirit makes it MUCH harder to willfully sin but I sometimes still go there. I get caught up in the moment or set my mind on something other than You then I make a mess of things. I HATE when I do this! But I find myself doing it more than I ever want to. What I TRULY desire Lord is to have a heart, mind and body that RUNS from ALL sin, including the things that are my greatest snares. Help me refocus and hone my mind to keep You in the front at all times. Help me with my cravings too Father. PLEASE be stronger than them! Quiet me in this area Lord.