I’ve often told the joke “Hey, who was the first person to break the commandments”, and I get various responses such as “Adam” or “Lucifer”. Then I told the punchline “No, Moses was the first person – he walked off Mt. Sinai and broke ALL TEN at once!”Ok, so it isn’t the funniest joke in the world but most of mine aren’t. The point is, Moses did break those tablets and had to go back to the mountain and get a second set. But did you ever notice… that God carved the first tablets out of Mt. Sinai with his own hand, and wrote on them with his own finger? I’m sure you did.
Exodus 32:16-19 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables. [and Moses walked down the mountain] … And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.
But did you notice that God commanded MOSES to carve out (but not write upon) the second tablets? And if you did, did you ever ask WHY? These things happened to Moses and the Israelites for SYMBOLS; pictures of the plan of God so that we could understand them and learn from them TODAY. WHY did Moses cut the second tablets?
Exodus 34:1 (NKJV) And the LORD said to Moses, “Cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke.
The Bible goes way out of it’s way to EXPLICITLY say that God cut the stones for the first tablets out of the mountain, and then just as explicitly says that Moses made the second tablets. Now that wasn’t an accident. The words were the same on both tablets, and God personally wrote the ten commandments on both tablets… but the tablets themselves were different….
The second tablets weren’t as good as the first. Because Moses, righteous and good as he was, so righteous that God allowed Moses to see him face to face, still was a man; and by cutting those tablets, he defiled them.
Exodus 20:25 And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt NOT build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.
So why would God insist on a defiled set of stones, hewn by a carnal man, to replace the flawless stones made by his own hand? Well, there hangs the tale…
We must first find out what the tablets represented. The tablets were written of stone, and it’s not hard to connect stone to Jesus; such scriptures as “my rock”, “that rock was Christ”, “the stone which the builders rejected”, and so on easily establish that. But was THIS stone Jesus? Were THESE tablets symbols of Jesus? We can find a surprisingly clear proof in Daniel:
Daniel 2:45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; …
This stone, in context, was Jesus coming to smash in pieces all nations. But what mountain was this stone cut from? Daniel doesn’t say. But think about it; a STONE, cut out of a MOUNTAIN without HANDS. Can you think of any other stone ever cut out of any mountain without hands? The only time that EVER happened in recorded history was in Exodus.
Those tablets containing the ten commandments were miraculously cut out of Mt. Sinai by God Himself, no human hands were used, and no tools that would defile those tablets. So there can be little doubt that the first set of stones represents Jesus; and if there is, these scriptures should dispel it:
Mark 14:58 We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.
Jesus specifically says that His spirit body – His spiritual temple – is made without hands. But he also says that his PHYSICAL body was made WITH hands! So while Jesus was the first set of tablets, the second set of tablets was someone who was NOT spiritual! Someone who was PHYSICAL!
Who that is will have to wait until much later in this article, but I will get back to it. Meanwhile, let’s build on Jesus being the “stone” on which the commandments were carved.
1 Peter 2:7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
Anyone who has ever creased the pages of a new testament knows that Jesus is that stone which the builders rejected; and we know that, literally, He was rejected by the Pharisees in His own time. But did you know that it wasn’t the FIRST time they had rejected Him? Let’s go back now to Sinai and see what God offered Israel first… because the first offer was not Moses. The first offer was Christ.
Exodus 19:5-6 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
This didn’t happen. Israel was not a peculiar treasure to God. They were peculiar alright, but certainly no treasure for most of their history. They were not a kingdom of priests, and certainly not a holy nation. But this was what God WANTED. God speaks here of a covenant; casual readers assume God meant the old covenant. But was the old covenant to be a peculiar treasure?
1 Peter 2:7, 9 Unto you therefore WHICH BELIEVE he is precious: … YE are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
This scripture is SPECIFICALLY, and ONLY talking about those who are called out of darkness; those who BELIEVE that Rock, Jesus; Those who have the light of God’s truth; those who are a ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, and a HOLY nation, something Israel NEVER WAS! This is a NEW covenant promise! And so was the promise in Exodus 19:5-6! This may seem a bit “out there”, but bear with me and you’ll see. So Moses took this promise of God’s to the people, who heard it and liked the sound of it, and agreed unconditionally to abide by the terms of this covenant.
Exodus 19:8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.
God never wanted a covenant that was dead; a covenant of works; a covenant made of weak and beggarly elements that could not save. He wanted the same thing then He does today – people with His laws written on their hearts. And so, naturally, He offered that to Ancient Israel. And at first, they accepted it. So God had Moses gather all the people, wash them, and make them as holy as possible.
Exodus 20:1, 18 And God spake all these words, saying, [the Ten Commandments] … And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
Up until this time, Moses had been acting as an intermediary with God; a go-between. God said something and Moses told the people, the people said something and Moses told God. But now God was finally ready to deal with Israel on a 1-on-1 basis.
Deuteronomy 5:22 These words [the Ten Commandments] the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.
God spoke the Ten Commandments to the people PERSONALLY. Moses did not give the commandments to the people, God HIMSELF did. And it TERRIFIED the people. And they immediately DEMANDED an intermediary!
Verse 19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
Get this clear; the new covenant is a covenant where God speaks to you directly, through His spirit; He influences you, guides you, looks on your heart and sees whether it’s good or bad and judges you accordingly. There is no intermediary, no spiritual switchboard to go through, it’s you and Him.
But the old covenant is different; God does not speak to your heart, nor regard it; He deals only with the physical, the things which can be seen on the outside. He deals through an intermediary, and tells that person what to say and the people listen to that physical, fallible person and (theoretically) obey.
God was speaking to Israel directly, intending to make the entire nation a spiritual church, and deal with them personally. And they didn’t WANT it! They REJECTED IT! They chose MOSES over JESUS! (Jesus was the “Lord” speaking to them off Sinai). They REJECTED the covenant of personal friendship and spiritual contact with God Almighty in exchange for a PHYSICAL covenant with a PHYSICAL mediator!
Jesus was that STONE, the first tablets; and they who founded the Israelite nation, the BUILDERS of that nation, REJECTED that stone and chose Moses instead! Now does this scripture make more sense?
Psalms 118:22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
The cornerstone of what? What edifice uses Jesus as it’s cornerstone? The people who together comprise the true church of God!
1 Corinthians 3:9-11 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, YE ARE GOD’S BUILDING. … I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. … For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
The building is YOU. You are God’s temple; YOU are what God is building. And the foundation of YOU is Jesus Christ; that cornerstone. But it’s more than just “Jesus”; it’s what Jesus represents. Jesus was that first set of tablets; and on those tablets, God wrote with his own finger the 10 commandments; the fundamental principles that govern the nature of God.
Those commandments are the foundation for every true belief, every true doctrine, and are firmly centered as the cornerstone of the faith of everyone who will ever be in the first resurrection. Those laws are what makes life. Those laws are what purify a heart; and those laws are what Jesus came to exemplify. Moses could not do that.
1 Peter 2:3-4 … the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
God alone is able to make a living stone; Moses could not. God carved that living stone out of the mountain, with the words of life on it. And we come to that stone whenever we approach God. Israel rejected Him, but God chose Him. And chose us to become like Him, built into the same house of God.
Verse 5 (Weymouth) And be yourselves also like living stones that are being built up into a spiritual house, to become a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the cornerstone of that temple; and each of us, should we prove faithful, are planned to be stones in that building. Moses could not make his set of tablets “living stones”. They were hard, plain, stones that had been sullied by the tool of man. But God wrote His living words on them, the same words that were on the original stones, and settled for that – even though He wanted to write those words on the hearts of all Israel. But for that, He’d have to wait.
Jeremiah 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
God wants to write the law in the hearts of men. That’s been the plan all along (2 Corinthians 3:3). But Israel wouldn’t allow it, so God settled for the old covenant. It would still work, if the people would do it, and when it didn’t work it would prove an important point for God. So if Israel wanted a physical mediator, a physical mediator they would have.
The people had accepted God’s “new” covenant in Exodus 19:8. And as long as they didn’t sin, God treated them as if they were under that new covenant; talking to them, teaching them, etc. There were no sacrifices for sin given, no complicated rituals set up. These were added later, and only AFTER the transgression.
Galatians 3:19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, TILL the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels IN THE HAND OF A MEDIATOR.
God added this law, the washings and ordinances, BECAUSE Israel sinned; up until that time, even though they requested a mediator, God continued to deal with them as new covenant Christians. And so when He gave them the ten commandments, they were written on the flawless body of Christ in symbol.
There was no veil over Moses’ face when he dealt with the people, even after receiving the first set of commandments. The people could see and understand the spirit of the law plainly. But after they sinned, for their own good, God COULD not reveal Himself plainly to them.
And so the second time Moses brought them the law, he brought it on tables representing a PHYSICAL mediator, not a spiritual one; representing a body made WITH hands that was their mediator, not a body made WITHOUT hands; and from that point on, Moses sometimes literally, but forever symbolically, wore a veil over his face so that the people could not truly understand.
Exodus 34:29-33 …when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the [second] two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, … Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone … till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.
Moses put a veil on his face because the people were not ABLE, because of their rebellious heart, to look on God, or even he who brought them words from God, directly; and those people, because they were now under the terms of the OLD covenant, SHOULD NOT understand God fully. And so from now on, God had to deal with Israel at large either on a strictly physical level, or in parables.
Verse 34 But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded.
And Moses was given this job for the next 1500 or so years. Until Jesus came, Moses HAD to keep a veil over his face, and a veil was over his writings to all who read him.
2 Corinthians 3:13 And [we speak clearly] not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:
Notice the reason! He wore the veil SO THAT Israel could not clearly look BEYOND Moses, and see that Moses’ covenant must be ABOLISHED! If you had looked on the ten commandments with clarity, with an open heart under the new covenant, you could not HELP but understand God! You could not HELP but magnify those commandments as Jesus did in Matthew 5, 6, and 7 and understand the SPIRITUAL law as Job, David and Paul and many others did! And so God placed a VEIL over Moses so that they COULD not see, so that they would be LOCKED into that covenant!
Romans 11:32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
And even after the return of Jesus, only those whom He calls can understand. Everyone else in the world still has that veil over their heart.
2 Corinthians 3:14-16 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it [their heart] shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
The first set of tablets represented the mediator of the first covenant God offered them; Jesus. Their understanding of the law was to come directly from those ten commandments, coming directly from the Being on whom they were symbolically written, Jesus; the “Lord” who spoke to them directly from the mountain.
But the people rejected that mediator, and so God had to give them a second set of tablets; a new set that would represent the new mediator whom they had chosen, Moses. The physical mediator who could never save them, could never bring them more than physical blessings, but who was more tolerant than God because he could not see or judge their hearts.
And so when Moses broke those commandments, it served two purposes. One, it broke the commandment tablets which Israel no longer deserved. They were now a carnal people, and by their sin were now under the old covenant, condemned by their own wish to work through a mediator. As such, they could not deal with God directly, lest God kill them. So the commandments written on a symbol of Jesus’ divinely crafted body could not be given to them directly. Israel must, from that point, be shielded from the direct work of God. Through the actions of a mediator, Moses.
And since they COULD not deal with God directly in their present rebellious state without dying, Moses broke the tablets – no doubt having no idea what it symbolized – to show that they no longer had direct access to the throne room of God, and henceforth would only deal with God through a physical man.
But there was a second reason, one even more important. Because since those first tablets represented the body of Christ, when Moses broke the tablets, He was symbolically breaking the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
Moses broke that body of Christ because ISRAEL HAD SINNED! And they deserved to DIE for sinning! And breaking the tablets symbolized the PAYMENT for that sin!
After the calf incident, Moses went back up the mountain and begged God, who was even then plotting their destruction, to forgive them, and God did – but only because Moses INTERCEDED for them. Moses was now their intercessor – one righteous man defending the actions of an unrighteous nation.
Moses even offered his own life to pay for the sins of Israel, which God refused; Moses’ life could not pay for the sins of Israel. But we, in the new covenant, have a different intercessor; our intercessor is Christ. One who did offer his life for Spiritual Israel, and one whose payment God accepted.
Romans 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Although Moses could not have known, God guided him to break the tablets because those tablets were the body of Christ. That body which was broken for OUR sins. When Moses offered to pay for Israel’s sins with his own life, God didn’t NEED to use Moses’ life (even had it been sufficient payment), because Moses had ALREADY applied the coming sacrifice of Christ to pay for their sins by BREAKING CHRIST’S BODY for them!
Matthew 7:9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
Luke 4:3 And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
Bread and stone are used in several similar instances in the Bible; to compare bread with stones is not a huge step, particularly since we know that both stones and bread are used to picture the body of Jesus throughout the Bible. And if A=C and B=C then invariably, A=B.
Every feast of unleavened bread we eat the whole, unbroken body of Christ representing “Christ in us, the hope of glory”. It was this “bread” which Moses took to the Israelites when He delivered them the ten commandments on the stones carved by God. As Spiritual Israelites, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation, they were all entitled to eat of the whole body of Christ, and to have the spirit of God.
But when Moses saw that they were sinning, it was clear that they could not eat of that bread; they had to back up, start over, and first have their sins forgiven before they can ever hope to receive eternal life. And so Moses BROKE that body of Jesus, just as we break the body of Jesus at the passover every year before eating that broken bread which represents his broken body. And until our sins are forgiven by the passover, we CANNOT eat of that whole bread.
And so from that time onward, Moses became the starting point; the broken bread in the form of the broken tablets was given to Israel, and Moses was to be the foundation of truth for 1500 years.
Galatians 3:24-25 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
Moses set up rituals and washings which were a foundation; among which a person who loved truth and meditated upon the law, could look beyond Moses and see clearly the end of the old covenant and “the end of that which was to be done away.” as (2 Corinthians 3:13 in Rotherham) says. A person who wanted to understand and who meditated on the law could clearly see that the shewbread was meaningless; that Moses’ rituals had no real value. But to the vast majority, it was hidden.
Luke 16:31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
And if they chose not to hear Moses, if they rejected the simple, carnal things that Moses said, then they wouldn’t have listened even had God spoken to them from Mt. Sinai or one went to them from the dead – both of which did happen and in both cases they didn’t listen.
But those few who did listen those who used Moses as a foundation and went on to learn the spirit of the law, were able to go back to those original tablets and metaphorically reassembled the scattered fragments of pure, clear truth into one big picture; one picture which has been scattered around the Bible like a jigsaw puzzle the size of Rhode Island and which must be assembled “here a little, there a little”, until you can finally perceive the truth which has been hidden from the foundation of the world, and finally develop a full picture of the nature of that Living Stone which was cut from that mountain!
Jesus was that STONE, the first tablets; and they who founded the Israelite nation, the BUILDERS of that nation, REJECTED that stone and chose Moses instead! And so God had to write a NEW set of Tablets, which MOSES had carved, because those tablets REPRESENTED MOSES!
Isaiah 51:1 Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.
It is now OUR job to look to that Rock from which WE are hewn, and to reassemble the scattered pieces of the Plain Truth of God which He has hidden from those who rejected Him, and to find the Simple Answers to questions like “Why Did Moses Cut The Second Tablets?” so that we can stand as pillars in the temple of God, rocks laid upon the foundation of the Spirit of God, following the pattern of the Law of God written upon the firstborn Stone of God.