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D'varim/Deuteronomy 10:1 Cut for yourself two tablets of stone, like the first ones
This instruction marksHaShem's acquiescence to Moshe's pleading that G-d would re-instate His personal relationship and presence with the people of Israel after the debacle of the golden calf and the smashing of the first set of tablets. The Ramban points out that there was a significant difference between the two sets of tablets; the first set was both made and written on by G-d Himself: "And the tablets were G-d's work, and the writing was G-d's writing engraved upon the tablets" (Shemot 32:16, NASB). The second set were to be cut or made by Moshe and G-d said, "I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets" (D'varim 10:2, NASB), "the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of G-d" (Shemot 21:18, NASB). It as if G-d is demonstrating that man needs to participate in the covenant for it to work. Although all the people heard and saw G-d speaking at Mt. Sinai, they did not connect with the first set of tablets because they had no involvement in the process. G-d chose to have Moshe prepare the second set of tablets so that the people would realise that the covenant was to be a joint venture between man and G-d.
But even the partnership of G-d and man to produce the second set of tablets was not enough. We can see how G-d develops the image of stone and commandments through the words of the prophets. Speaking of those who would be gathered from among the nations back to the land of Israel, G-d says, "I will remove form their bodies the hearts of stone and give them hearts of flesh, so that they will live by My regulations, obey My rulings and act by them" (Ezekiel 11:19-20, CJB). To be effective, G-d's commandments need to be inside us. G-d continues, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit inside you; I will take the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit inside you and cause you to live by My laws, respect My rulings and obey them" (Ezekiel 36:26-27, CJB). The stone must be replaced by flesh, the external - although there is nothing wrong with a written reminder of the commandments - must become internal, so much a part of us that obeying G-d becomes second nature. "'For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days', says Adonai: 'I will put My Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their G-d, and they will be My people'" (Jeremiah 31:32(33), CJB). So intimate is the partnership between G-d and man that instead of stone tablets prepared by human hands, G-d's finger will write His Torah into the hearts of those who open themselves to Him and are in relationship with Him.
Writing to the believers in Corinth, Rav Sha'ul tells them that they "make it clear that you are a letter from the Messiah placed in our care, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living G-d, not on stone tablets but on human hearts" (2 Corinthians 3:3, CJB). It is as if, Sha'ul seems to be saying, it is the way the law is applied and the centre of motivation that makes the difference. How else can we make sense of two otherwise contradictory statements? Just a few verses on Sha'ul writes, "For the written text brings death, but the Spirit gives life" (3:6, CJB) whereas to the community in Rome he wrote, "So the Torah is holy; that is, the command is holy, just and good" (Romans 7:12, CJB). When we treat the commandments as an external written text, outside of ourselves, a set of rules that we must keep in order to earn our salvation or favour with G-d, then we find nothing but death. When the commandments are inside us, a natural way of living enabled by the Ruach Hakodesh, they are an expression of the life that we live in Messiah, whether Jew or Gentile because we are united in Him. But that requires our co-operation; instead of cutting two tablets of stone, we must take our hearts - the very essence of our lives - in both hands and surrender it to Him so that he may give us a heart of flesh and write on it, "by the finger of G-d", His covenant of love with us and His commandments for each of our lives before Him.
Further Study: Daniel 5:24-28; Proverbs 7:1-3
Application: Is your heart truly given over to G-d, or are you still trying to make do with stone tablets? G-d doesn't write on stone tablets any more and He wants your heart today. Ask Him to write His covenant of love inside you and leave the stone tablets back in the quarry!
© Jonathan Allen, 2007
Comment - 29Jul07 21:11 JonathanS: The word gives life and activates the spirit - we still need to read and ingest the word of our God. While the Ruach Hakodesh, the great comforter, dwells within us, it is quickly grieved by worldly obsession. Hence the duty to read the Word day & night. While our hearts are circumcised by His truth, our flesh is always in opposition. The only Fuel is the Word of God. The act of inscribing the word on Stone is a picture for me of inscription on hearts of stone. But the Word itself, whether inscribed on stone or any other medium holds the power of life and death!!!!
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