BIBLE STUDY SERIES #203, 204 and 205

8 October, 1995


By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

This series of Bible Studies, began essentially with Genesis Chapter 12, which deals with God's Call to Abram, and followed the Biblical account onward, down through the generations of his descendants as Scripture records. On our last study, we had arrived at Exodus 34, a point at which Moses has been acting as intermediary between Yahweh, (Jehovah), The Almighty God, and his national "wife", the nation of Jacob-Israel's descendants camped at the foot of Mount Sinai.

Moses, you may remember if you have been following the series along with us, had ascended the mount to receive the instructions which The Almighty was imparting for the benefit of His people. For forty days, while he was absent from them, the people of Israel had become restless and impatient at his absence and eventually some of them had demanded that a golden calf be made in order to focus their worship in a manner similar to that of the Egyptians out from whose bondage they had so recently been permitted an escape through the miraculous signs and plagues which God had visited upon their oppressors in that great national event known for all time as "The Exodus."

Moses had returned down the slopes of Mount Sinai with the first set of tablets which displayed the Ten Commandments to find the pagan orgy and festivities surrounding the golden calf in progress, and, smashing the tablets he had ordered that the guilty be swiftly and severely punished by death. Now, having once more ascended up the steeps of Sinai to seek the face of The Almighty, he had pleaded for the people and, in Exodus 34:1 he had been told to "Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest."

We had read, and briefly commented upon, the passage as far as verse 6, but as we had only a short time to begin study of these verses on the last programme, there will be some points yet to add before we leave this passage. It will perhaps be best if I reiterate the verses upon which we are making comment. In Exodus 34:2-6 The LORD God, Yahweh (Jehovah) continues:

2. And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount.
3. And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount.
4. And he hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone.
5. And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.
6. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

Keil and Delitzsch present some worthwhile thoughts at this point. They say: "When Moses had restored the covenant bond through his intercession... he was directed by Jehovah to hew out two stones, like the former ones which he had broken, and to come with them the next morning up the mountain, and Jehovah would write upon them the same words as upon the first, and thus restore the covenant record." There is a footnote to that remark which adds that these were the ten words in chapter 20:2-17, not the laws contained in verses 12-26 of the present chapter. They continue: "It was also commanded, as in the former case... that no one should go up the mountain with him, or be seen upon it, and that not even cattle should feed against the mountain, i.e. in the immediate neighbourhood (ver. 3)."

As some critics take the slightest variation in the text to evidence alternative sources of authorship, they (Keil and Delitzsch) comment upon the fact that in Exodus 24:12 and 31:18 the first tables of the covenant are called "tables of stone" while the second set of tables are in the present chapter called "tables of stones" (plural). They make the sensible suggestion that the tables prepared by Moses were hewn from two stones, not of one block, whereas no one knew whether the first set were of one block or two. Of far more importance, they indicate, is the distinction "that the second tables were delivered by Moses and only written upon by God, whereas in the case of the former both the writing and the materials came from God." This, they suggest, cannot be either a punishment of the nation, nor a sign of a higher stage of the covenant, stating that "It is much more natural to seek for the cause... in the fact, that Moses had broken the first in pieces..." They continue with the words "As Moses had restored the covenant through his energetic intercession, he should also provide the materials for the renewal of the covenant record, and bring them to God, for Him to complete and confirm the record by writing the covenant words upon the tables."

Those of us who examined the previous chapter will remember that The Almighty God had promised Moses, in verses 17-23 that He would graciously meet Moses' desire for a more complete sight of The LORD, and He is now about to meet that request. Keil and Delitzsch continue:

"On the following morning, when Moses ascended the mountain, Jehovah granted him the promised manifestation of His glory... The description of this unparalleled occurrence is in perfect harmony with the mysterious and majestic character of the revelation..." The Commentary then states "What Moses saw we are not told, but simply the words in which Jehovah proclaimed all the glory of His being; whilst it is recorded of Moses, that he bowed his head toward the earth and worshipped." Stating that "(T)his 'sermon on the name of the Lord' as Luther calls it, disclosed to Moses the most hidden nature of Jehovah", they then state "It proclaimed that God is love, but that kind of love in which mercy, grace, long-suffering, goodness, and truth are united with holiness and justice. As the merciful One, who is great in goodness and truth, Jehovah shows mercy to the thousandth, forgiving sin and iniquity in long-suffering and grace; but He does not leave sin altogether unpunished, and in His justice visits the sin of the fathers upon the children and the children's children even unto the fourth generation."

Keil and Delitzsch then contrast the revelation of Jehovah to the nation in chapter 20, which stressed visitation upon sin first, with mercy only following afterwards with this present manifestation in which "grace, mercy, and goodness are placed in the front." All "the words which the language contained to express the idea of grace in its varied manifestations to the sinner, are crowded together here, to reveal the fact that in His inmost being God is love. But in order that grace may not be perverted by sinners into a ground of wantonness, justice is not wanting even here with its solemn threatenings, although it only follows mercy, to show that mercy is mightier than wrath, and that holy love does not punish till sinners despise the riches of the goodness, patience, and long-suffering of God."

The New Bible Commentary, under the heading "The Renewal of the Covenant" states of this passage that "The vision just promised is to be given when God renews the covenant, which the people have broken by their idolatry. Thus God turns even the rebellion of His people to His own praise, for it provided the occasion for Moses' requests in chapter xxxiii and for an answering revelation of the excellences of God's nature, which surpassed anything which had been granted before."

Back in Exodus 32:16, we saw that the first tables which Moses had broken, "were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables." This time, as The Commentary points out, the LORD was telling Moses to "Hew thee two tables of stone...". Thus Moses must replace those stone tablets which he had broken with other tables, upon which The Almighty would write. The Commentary explains "This time Moses prepares the tablets, but again God writes on them. The Law is as completely divine as before, yet sin lost something that it had been granted previously."

Of the words "passed by", found in verse 6, The New Bible Commentary notes that this had been promised in Exodus 33:19-23. A further comment is made upon the words "proclaimed the name of the Lord" of verses 5-7. It states: "Already God had made known to Moses His name, i.e. His nature, in iii. 14, vi. 3, and again at Sinai, xx. 5,6..., but here He reveals yet more of His character. In xx. 6 He had spoken of mercy, but now the infinite grace of God is revealed. Read with RV 'The Lord, the Lord, a God full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy and truth.'"

As our time has about gone for today, let me leave some thoughts with you by way of a meditation. The occurrences which Scripture records in the Old Testament are recorded for our learning and understanding. St. Paul said as much in I Corinthians 10:11, which states "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." So let us see if there is some thought which may be of benefit to ourselves today. The Almighty God Who dealt with Israel and with Moses by manifesting both loving mercy and the justice of visitation upon sin, acted in a manner which we may perceive to be most consistent. Justice, which may be taken as a product of the combining of His perfect knowledge and His perfect love, is designed to bring about a perfect accord between His creation and Himself. I believe that we will do well to find our path to that accord by way of submission to the person of Our Lord Jesus Christ while there is yet time, before His glorious return in the Second Advent. We will continue these studies on our next programme.

15 October, 1995


By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

The present series of Bible Studies began several years ago with a talk on Genesis 12; a passage outlining the Call of Abram by The Almighty to part from his kindred and nation, and be led to a new land through faith in God's promises. Since that time we have traced, in a weekly succession of scripture passages from Genesis and Exodus, the line of Abraham's descendants through Isaac and Jacob (Israel) to the Tribes of Israel's sons. We saw them enter Egypt under Joseph's protection to escape a famine, and when, in a later generation a Pharaoh arose who "knew not Joseph", we watched as The Almighty God used Moses to demand that God's people be released from bondage in that land; a demand which was then forced upon Pharaoh through the marvellous miracles of The Exodus to the wilderness of Sinai.

Encamped before Mount Sinai, the tribes of Israel had made agreement to become the national wife of Yahweh (Jehovah) their God. and almost immediately, while Moses tarried on Sinai's summit, they had created a golden calf as a god, which Moses destroyed upon his return, along with the faction which had led in this abomination. Moses thereupon returned to plead before God on behalf of his people, and The Almighty has graciously received this intercession and moved to restore the covenant which had been broken. Moses has been embolden by this grace to ask the further blessing of seeing God, but only a glimpse of the similitude of the back of God as He passed away from Moses could be allowed lest Moses die.

We have read Exodus 34:1-6 in which Moses had been ordered to hew two stone tablets to replace those he had broken at sight of the golden calf, and the covenant had then been reaffirmed in the fact that The Almighty had re-written the commandments upon these new tablets. Now we come to today's Scripture passage which begins at Exodus 34:7, but in order to lead into it I shall repeat the previous two verses to give the sense of the context:

5. And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.
6. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

As the LORD passed by, He proclaimed His Name and attributes, a proclamation which continues in these words:

7. Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

In verse 7, the Companion Bible reference states of "mercy" the same meaning as for "goodness" in verse 6. The "forgiving", it explains as "bearing away", while "iniquity" is "perverseness" and "transgression" is "rebellion." The phrase "by no means clear the guilty" draws the comment "Not even Christ; when our sins were imputed to Him; therefore all now in Him are 'cleared'." That is to say that even Christ, when our sins were placed upon His account, must not be cleared of this without bearing sin's penalty for us.

The New Bible Commentary shows us that several Hebrew words in this passage are translated "sin": "Iniquity...: sins committed from evil disposition; Transgression...: rebellion against God; Sin...: to miss the mark." The Commentary draws attention to the reversal of order from that of Exodus 20:5-6, which placed visitation of iniquity before mention of mercy. Here, as it says, "mercy and forgiveness are first declared and finally, as a corrective against presumption, they are reminded that God still maintains His justice."

8. And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.
9. And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.
10. And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee.

Here the Commentaries give us a lead. In The New Bible Commentary, the words "If now", in verse 9, are given the meaning "since now...". The people are truly "stiff-necked"; that is to say, they have a natural inclination towards sin, which requires God's mercy in order to escape the dire consequences thereof and to confirm the whole nation of Israel as the possession of Jehovah. As Keil and Delitzsch put it, "Wrath was mitigated by a regard to the natural condition." At Moses' intercessory prayer, Jehovah "at once declared... that He would conclude a covenant, i.e. restore the broken covenant, and do marvels before the whole nation, such as had not been done in all the earth or in any nation, and thus by these His works distinguish Israel before all nations as His own property (chap. xxxiii 16). The nation was to see this, because it would be terrible; terrible, namely, through the overthrow of the powers that resisted the kingdom of God, every one of whom would be laid prostrate and destroyed by the majesty of the Almighty."

The New Bible Commentary observation on verse 8 says "Eager as he was to behold the divine glory, Moses' heart was ever filled with reverent adoration. Contrast the spirit of the idolaters who make a god for their eyes to see, and play before it."

The words of verse 10, "I make a covenant" mean that God renews the covenant already made and already violated by the Israelites. In the following verses are laid down both the promises which God includes in His covenant and the conditions upon which the people may be in a position to accept the promises, i.e. observe them.

Keil and Delitzsch devote their next comments to verses 11-26, so I shall leave that portion of their commentary until we have a chance to examine the Biblical passage concerned on our next study. Suffice it to say that we shall, at that time, be looking at some of the most significant laws which The Almighty God provided to Moses for the Children of Israel, His national wife, to follow. This will be done in order, as we shall see, to confirm the nature of the covenant which has been re-confirmed. It will equally be done in order to indicate those areas of God's Law which are most needful to obey having in view the fact that they particularly pertain to those matters wherein the Children of Israel and their descendants will most seriously err in the years to come. Briefly, they concern what we today would term the sin of multicult amalgamation which draws God's people from a true devotion to Himself.

We, of the British-Israel-World Federation sustain, as long-time listeners will know, the Biblical exposition which holds in prominent view the national message which is contained in the Holy Scriptures. We believe, with good evidence, that the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the world today are the God-promised nations of modern-day Israel who descend quite literally out of those ancient tribes of Israel of whom the Bible chiefly records the earlier roots and history. These were deported by the Assyrians, and never returned to Palestine, in spite of erroneous teaching by some who presume to expound upon scripture. The promises were to involve, eventually, many nations of peoples all related as Israelites, and these we perceive to be fulfilling their pre-ordained destinies today, in a state of blindness though they may be, because even that condition of general blindness was to mark them towards the end of the age-long process. It is only at the termination of those years that they are prophesied to awaken to who they really are, and we believe that this time is now upon us.

Briefly, it is time for the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples to awaken to their identity, obligations and heritage. It was in order to facilitate this process that our Federation came into existence many years ago, and it is towards that end that our chief efforts must be directed. Many who do not understand this aspect of the Biblical record are capably dwelling upon the aspects of the Gospel message which extend the wonderful offer of Personal Salvation to all who sense the calling of The Holy Spirit at that aspect of the message. Few, it seems, are willing to challenge the grip by which some humanist-minded governmental figures attempt to hinder or bar the right of Our Lord to the position of dominance throughout all the lands of His Kingdom on earth; a condition for which Jesus told His disciples that they are to pray.

May these considerations be carefully and prayerfully weighed by our listeners in the week ahead. We shall continue our studies on succeeding programmes.

22 October, 1995


By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

In the present series of Bible Studies, which began with God's Call to Abram in Genesis 12, we have been tracing the course of the Great Plan by which the Almighty is drawing His Creation into accord with His mighty purposes. We have arrived, in the sequence of Scriptures at Exodus 34, a chapter in which the Israelites, led by Moses, are camped at the foot of Mount Sinai, and Moses has made intercession for a national transgression in the matter of worship of the golden calf.

We are studying Exodus 34:11-13 at the moment, and, leading into that passage, we saw that in the previous verse, (as the note in The Companion Bible puts it, regarding the marvels which God would do), that this wording may be translated "a covenant of marvels", and that reference makes the statement that "This covenant finds its complete fulfilment in the Apocalypse." We now continue with verse 11 as God says the following words to Moses.

11. Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.
12. Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:
13. But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:

Why? Who were these inhabitants of Canaan whose practices so displeased The Almighty God, and what, exactly, were the cultural practices which formed such a danger to God's people? The Companion Bible notes that the word "it" of verse 12 does not mean that the land itself would be a snare, but rather, the practices of the present inhabitants of the land. That reference mentions that the images were sacred pillars, and refers the reader to Exodus 23:24 ("Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images."), and the note in the same reference to Leviticus 26:1, which speaks of idols of clay or terra cotta "gods", of graven images of wood or stone, and sacred pillars, sculptured or painted. Exodus 23:32-33 had stated "Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee."

The "groves" are, in Hebrew, "asherah", The Companion Bible explains. It further tells us that "This is the first mention out of forty, and in the A.V. the word 'asherah' is always rendered 'groves', but it denotes a phallic image, worshipped by libidinous rites and lascivious practices." We are further advised to look up Appendix 42 of that reference, which concerns the topic of Asherah for more details. There we find that "The word 'Asherah is from the root 'ashar, to be straight, erect, or upright. From this comes the meaning, in a moral sense, to be upright, hence, to prosper or be happy. The 'Asherah was so called because it was something set upright or erect in the ground, and worshipped. The word occurs forty times, and only a careful study of each passage will give a correct view.

Compared with this, all that men may think or say about the 'Asherah is of little value. The word is always rendered grove or groves in the A.V.; and always left as a proper name in the R.V.

From a conspectus of the passages, we learn that it was either a living tree with the top cut off, and the stump or trunk fashioned into a certain shape (Deut. 16:21); or it was artificially fashioned and set erect in the ground (Isa. 17.8. I Kings 14.15.; 16.33). It was made of wood (Judg. 6.26) or stone. What the shape was is indicated in I Kings 15.13, and 2 Chron. 15.16, where the A.V. 'an idol in a grove', should be (as in the R.V.) 'an abominable image for an Asherah'. It could be 'cut down' (Ex. 34.13, the first occurrence of the word); 'plucked up' (Mic. 5.14); 'burnt' (Deut. 12.3); or 'broken in pieces' (2 Chron. 34.4)."

The note continues: "It is often coupled with mazzevoth, or stone 'pillars' (R.V.) (and rendered images in A.V.), connected with Baal worship.

That it could not have been a 'grove' is clear from 2 Kings 17.10, where it is forbidden to set one up 'under any green tree'.

While it is distinguished from Ashtoreth the goddess, it is yet associated with that goddess, Ashtoreth being representative of the productive (or passive) principle of life; and Baal being representative of the generative (or active) principle.

The image which represents the Phoenician Ashtoreth of Paphos, as the sole object of worship in her temple, was an upright block of stone, anointed with oil, and covered with an embroidered cloth.

Such stones are to be met with all over the Semitic world; especially in Babylonia, in Syria, Palestine and Arabia. Even the Mahommedan sacred stone (kaaba) at Mecca remains an object of reverence.

The place Beth-el was so called because of its anointed stone. There was another Bethel in Northern Israel.

Two columns of stone stood before every Phoenician temple. Those at Tyre are described by Herodotus ([Book] ii [Chapter] 44); and the 'pillars of the sun' are mentioned in 2 Chron. 34.4 Isa. 17.8, etc."

The note explains that: "Like every form of 'religion,' it had to do with the 'flesh;' and hence, by the law of evolution (which is seen operating only in human affairs) it soon became corrupted. Evolution is seen in the progress of man's works, because he begins from ignorance, and goes on learning by his mistakes and failures. From the moment he ends his works devolution at once sets in and deterioration begins. This is specially true in the 'religious' sphere. All religions have become corrupt.

So with the 'Asherah. Originally a tree, symbolical of the 'tree of life,' it was an object of reverence and veneration. Then came the perversion of the earlier idea which simply honoured the origin of life; and it was corrupted and debased into the organ of procreation, which was symbolized by the form and shape given to the 'Asherah. It was the phallus image of Isa. 57.8, and the 'image of the male', Ezek. 16.17.

These symbols, in turn, became the incentive to all forms of impurity which were part of its libidinous worship, with the swarms of 'devotees' involved in its obscene orgies.

The serpent was accepted as the symbol of the nexus [the dictionary meaning of which is a tie, connecting principle, bond or debt], and was thus associated with the 'pillar' and the 'tree'. Hence it too became an object of worship."

The next portion of the note is particularly instructive. It continues: "The principal factor in this form of Canaanite idolatry is that it was not a primitive conception of a religious rite, but the corruption of an earlier idea which began with honouring the origin of life.

All the ancient systems of idolatry, connected with Astrology and Mythology, etc. were, in the same way, not original inventions of what was new; but the corruption of what was old, and the perversion of primitive truth.

There can be no doubt about its being, in its essence, Phallic worship pure and simple, whatever may have been its origin. this abomination was common to all the ancient nations and relics of it are found today in various forms... elsewhere. The menhirs of the Celtic religion are the true descendants of the 'Asherim.

At first it was centred in the Canaanitish nations; and from them it spread to the others. It was the great abomination of Canaan, and that is one reason why the Canaanites, as the descendants of the Nephilim, had to be destroyed by the sword of Israel. The other reason was the origin of those nations themselves..., with which it was closely connected. The first mention of the 'Asherah stamps it as being the special object of Jehovah's hatred. It is given to explain His name as 'jealous'; for that is the name He takes in denouncing it." A list of Scriptures which record such instances follows.

As the note concludes, "It led to Israel's banishment from the land; and subsequently to that of Judah's." Some final comments relate the theme to secret fraternities and certain religions with further scriptural references.

We shall continue with our introduction to these Canaanites, against whose religious practices Moses was being strictly and repeatedly warned by The Almighty God, on our next study. May I leave with you the thought that things have not changed, and the multi-cult philosophy embedded in today's "politically correct" thinking is, on Scriptural grounds, totally at variance with the commands of The Almighty to His people, who have undertaken a commitment to serve only Him. What is "correct" today will be very "incorrect" at the time of the fast approaching Second Advent. We shall have a further look at this dangerous trend on the next programme.