Don’t and Do (Exodus 34:10–28)

Exodus 34:10–28 is a representative restatement of the covenant, but it isn’t a random representative restatement. In light of their recent adultery with the golden calf, God lays down a do and a don’t. They are basically the two sides of the great commandment that sums up all others—love God with all.

Don’t: Worship Idols

Do: Worship Yahweh.

You’re not really obeying one of these commands if you’re not obeying the other. The only way to ensure that the land is empty of idols, is for it to be full of worship. Idols are like weeds. It won’t do to only spray weeds. If one has some fresh-tilled, vegetation-free soil, and they want it to keep it that way, the better attack is to cultivate a thick healthy lawn. Spray the weeds, yes, but plant, fertilize, and water the lawn. The only way to flee from idols it to pursue God, otherwise you’re only running from one idol to another.

Many Christian’s religion consists mostly of don’t with little genuine desire for do. But without the proper motivation for the don’t, you can’t do the do. You might obey the don’t because you want mom and dad to like you, or because obeying makes you look good, or because you think something bad will happen if you sin—but all these motivations are an idolization of self, not a worshipping of God.

Some think their diets are good simply because obesity is bad, but there are all kinds of unrighteous reasons to diet. It won’t do to simply not eat the world’s delicacies. There must be a hunger for God. If there is no hunger for God, you might go to the same table as the saints, but it is the cup of demons that you truly relish1 Corinthians 10:14–22).

The Pilgrim: Praying like the Pharisee

In all that thou sayest, thou dost but play the downright hypocrite. Thou pretendest indeed to mercy, but thou intendest nothing but merit. Thou seemest to give the glory to God; but at the same time takest it all to thyself. Thou despisest others, and criest up thyself, and in conclusion fatherest all upon God by word, and upon thyself in truth. Nor is there any thing more common among this sort of men, than to make God, his grace, and kindness, the stalking-horse to their own praise, saying, God, I thank thee when they trust to themselves that they are righteous, and have not need of any repentance; when the truth is, they are the worst sort of men in the world, because they put themselves into such a state as God hath not put them into, and then impute it to God, saying, God, I thank thee, that thou hast done it; for what greater sin [is there] than to make God a liar, or than to father that upon God which he never meant, intended, or did. And all this under a colour to glorify God; when there is nothing else designed, but to take all glory from him, and to wear [it] on thine own head as a crown, and a diadem in the face of the whole world. —John Bunyan, The Publican and the Pharisee