To resolve the problem, God gives a new covenant allowing His Shekinah to remain
Q. I have a general question on Exodus 34.6-7.
Can you expand my understanding on these two important verses.
Is it true it is a new covenant with his people at that time? (Paul)
A. This portion of the Torah is called the "Midot" or God’s 13 Attributes of Mercy. It has some major commentary in Jewish literature and what we will do is review the events leading up to why God spoke these words and how it relates to the covenant at Sinai.
The whole Exodus story is a picture of the individual salvation we receive as believers. They were 24.11.
Moses then will ascend Mt Sinai to receive the stone tablets which were the symbol of this covenant which were the Ten Commandments and the results of disobeying them. God included certain attributes in this first covenant.
Well, we know what happened later. Israel disobeys this covenant with the Golden Calf and God is going to destroy Israel and rebuild through Moses, still fulfilling His earlier covenant made with the "avot" or fathers (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob).
God’s presence or "shekinah" will not be present and Moses rejects this idea (Exodus 33.12-16). To resolve the problem, God gives a "new covenant" which allows His Shekinah to remain even though Israel may sin in the future. God says that He will grant mercy in certain situations and this will give Israel another chance.
As a result, Moses must ascend Mt. Sinai again for another "ceremony" if you will. Now, there is no reason to change the commandments in this new covenant, they will remain as before because it is by obeying them that Israel will be a "holy" (set apart) nation. What changes is how the Lord will relate to Israel and so the 13 attributes of mercy are proclaimed. As a result, God comes down in a cloud and says Exodus 34.6-7.
These attributes of mercy will allow God’s Shekinah (presence) to remain with Israel even when they sin.
However, these attributes do not guarantee that God will forgive, but they allow for the possibility that He will. To experience His forgiveness, each individual must repent and forsake his sin.
Each attribute in 34.6-7 can be researched out for their individual meaning, so that will not be done here, but there is an interesting thing in the Hebrew in verse 7.
The word "keep" in v 7 is written with an elongated "nun" in Hebrew and it carries the meaning that God will go "far beyond" or "longer" than what He needs to in being merciful. Now, there is a picture being portrayed here. This "new covenant" is not the New Covenant spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah in 31.31-34 or the gospels and epistles.
That covenant can be found in Deut 29.1 through 30.20, but it is a picture of it. The word "new" means to rebuild, or to be renewed. In the New Covenant the commandments don’t change because that is what is being written on our hearts, or desires (Jer 31.33). It also is not symbolized by a physical circumcision but a spiritual circumcision of the heart (Deut 30.6). Now, circumcision of the heart is just another way of saying "live" or to be "born from above" or born again.
What changes from the Covenant at Sinai to the Covenant in Moab is how God will relate to it. The Lord told the people to circumcise their own hearts in Deut 10.16 and then says in Deut 29.4 that He did not give them the heart/desire to know Him, or eyes to see or ears to hear.
That was the problem with the Covenant at Sinai. They failed and died in the wilderness. The New Covenant was "cut" in Moab with a new generation and not only included those present, but those that will be born later ( Deut 29.14-15). Moab means the "seed of the father". This covenant will be ratified or "cut" in Yeshua Himself, the seed of the father (virgin birth).
So, are you getting the picture. Exodus 34.6-7 is really a prophecy of the New Covenant that will be coming later and God is giving us a picture of how it will work and how He will relate to it. His presence will not leave us even though we sin because it is based on His attributes of mercy for those who believe. Those that don’t believe will not receive the benefits of that mercy and their sin will remain and the wrath of God will have to be carried out. There is much more to this but hopefully this will basically answer your question.