christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

exodus 33:12-34:26, chol hamo’ed sukkot, “weekdays of the feast of tabernacles”

My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.

Exodus 33:14

Read Exodus 33:12-34:26 at Bible Gateway.

We have just concluded Deuteronomy, and next week will begin the Torah again in Genesis. Today is the Torah portion for the Feast of Tabernacles. The paragraph divisions are:

Exo 33:12-16 {p} Mediation of Moses: My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest
Exo 33:17-23 {p} The plea of Moses: show me Your glory
Exo 34:1-26 {p} The renewal of the covenant, the Ten Commandments

Each of these strong paragraphs forms their own chiastic structures, which are posted here. This year I saw something interesting about the final strong paragraph, Exo 34:1-26. Its chiastic structure is:

Exo 34:1-26
1a) Exo 34:1-4, Two tablets of stone like the first tablets + the words of the first tablets;
1b) Exo 34:5-7, The glory and the name of YHVH proclaimed: merciful, gracious, longsuffering, good, true, forgiving, just;
central axis) Exo 34:8, So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped;
2b) Exo 34:9, Moses: As You are gracious and forgiving, go with us + take us for Your inheritance;
2a) Exo 34:10-26, The words of the covenant renewed (observe My commandments) (chiasm).

The 2a pair, Exo 34:10-26, also forms its own smaller chiastic structure:

Exo 34:10-26
1a) Exo 34:10-17, The Lord’s covenant: flee idolatry and worship the Lord only (chiasm);
1b) Exo 34:18-20a:
— 1b.1) Exo 34:18, Keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread;
— 1b.2) Exo 34:19-20a, The firstborn belong to the Lord;
1c) Exo 34:20b, None shall appear before Me empty-handed;
central axis) Exo 34:21, Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest;
2c) Exo 34:22-24, You shall appear before the Lord your God three times in the year;
2b) Exo 34:25-26a:
— 2b.1) Do not offer the blood with leaven (during the Feast of Unleavened Bread);
— 2b.2) The firstfruits belong to the Lord;
2a) Exo 34:26b, You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk (forsake the pagan practices of the land).

The central axis of Observe My commandments is to work for six days, but to rest on the seventh: the Sabbath commandment. The weekly Sabbath is the heart, but it is enclosed by keeping the annual Sabbaths, the annual Feast days of the Lord.

Now the 1a pair, Exo 34:10-17, of this smaller structure forms an even smaller chiastic structure:

Exo 34:10-17
1a) Exo 34:10-11a, The Lord’s covenant: observe what I command you this day (chiasm);
1b) Exo 34:11b-12, Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land;
central axis) Exo 34:13-14, “But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God);”
2b) Exo 34:15-16, Beware lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land;
2a) Exo 34:17, You shall make no molded gods for yourselves.

The central axis of flee idolatry and worship the Lord only, is more than just, don’t practice idolatry. It is, destroy idolatry wherever it is found, and do not enter into covenants with idolaters, lest they prove to be a snare to you. In our culture we are surrounded by idolatry on every side. We engage in destroying idolatry, not only by bearing witness to the Lord God in our observance of His commandments, but also in revealing the falsity of the false gods – we destroy idols – so that others are not deceived into adhering to them because they mistakenly believe they have been proven true.

The 1a pair, Exo 34:10-11a, forms a smaller chiastic structure still:

Exo 34:10-11a
1a) Exo 34:10a, Behold, I make a covenant;
1b) Exo 34:10b, Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation;
central axis) Exo 34:10c, And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord;
2b) Exo 34:10d, For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you;
2a) Exo 34:11a, Observe what I command you this day.

The covenant entails obedience. We saw that Moses and the people of Israel found grace in the Lord’s sight – therefore He delivered them from Egypt – but idolatry and disobedience caused Him to withdraw from them. Upon their confession and repentance, He renewed the covenant with them, because He is gracious and merciful. But obedience to the Lord’s commandments is not optional; observance is the flip side of the graciousness extended to us in the covenant.

This central axis is interesting. We were just talking about destroying idolatry wherever it is found. All the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord; they shall see Him do marvels and awesome wonders. That working of the miraculous among the Lord’s people, as a witness to those among whom we dwell, is wrapped in the covenant of grace on one side, and the observance of the Lord’s commandments on the other side, two sides of the same coin.


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