Thoughts on Pentecost:
Only 10 Commandments Written on Tablets?
“Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses ...” (2 Corinthians 3:7) Wait a minute! Because of the modern Christian influences upon the church, the mental picture that enters our minds is of Moses coming down Mount Sinai holding two stones containing Ten Commandments. But here the Apostle Paul is referring to something called the “ministry that brought death”. Paul is saying that the instructions Moses held in his hands contained the laws of capital punishment spoken to Moses immediately after the famous Ten Commandments were uttered from Mount Sinai. (See Exodus 21 and 22)
"Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death. However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate. But if a man schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my altar and put him to death.” (Exodus 21:12-14) Another six classifications of sins which were to be punishable through the “ministration of death” were given to Moses on Mount Sinai by the God of Israel; and Paul is saying that they were all “engraved in letters on stone” Could it be that our mental picture about the commandments on stone have been corrupted by the church since the days of Paul?
In our traditional views, artists have drawn these stones with Ten Commandments upon its face and nothing more. But if we look closely at the account immediately after the God of Israel uttered the first ten commandments, Moses was summoned to "Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and commands I have written for their instruction." (Exodus 24:12) Note that not only were commandments written, but also “law” which means instruction (Torah). So the Ten Commandments were definitely written on the stones, and in addition, so were the rest of the instructions which are written for us in chapters 21-23.
There was certainly enough room on the two tablets to contain the Law and the Ten Commandments. The tablets were made to fit into the ark of the covenant; a golden box which was four feet long and two foot wide. But Moses tells us even more about the orientation of the writing on the two stones. While he was on the mountain, he was instructed to go down, for the Israelites had corrupted themselves by worshiping the golden calf. “Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets” (Exodus 32:15-16).
Did you notice that the tablets had writing on both sides of the stones? Ellen G. White, (Seer of the Seventh Day Adventist church) testified that she was shown something that is of interest to us in this matter: She wrote, “In the ark (of the covenant) was the golden pot of manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of stone which folded together like a book. Jesus opened them, and I saw the Ten Commandments written on them with the finger of God. On one table were four, and on the other six” (Early Writings Page 33 – written in 1847). If she truly saw this in vision, we have to determine that the commandments we read in Exodus chapter 20 were written on the front side of the tablets, while the Law (written for our instruction) were written on the reverse sides of the tablets.
What does this mean to the people who are to bear the last day’s message to the world? It has often been said that the character and nature of God is revealed upon the tablets of stone and those who are born into new life will reflect these attributes in their lives. It has also been said that the words spoken after the Ten Commandments are contrary to Him and portions of this Law have disappeared at the cross. But this particular doctrine appears to be a teaching of human devising! The church has set many limitations upon His nature because she has seen Him only in the context of the Ten Commandments. But by looking at our Creator through the context of the whole Law, His character is greatly expanded. In fact, the tablets of stone command believers to keep the 7th day Sabbath and all of the Holy days (see Exodus 23:12-16).
When we approach the celebration of Shevuot (Pentecost) each year, do we take time to review all of the commandments and Laws written between Exodus chapters 20-24? How far have our hearts wandered from these instructions. Consider these things in the light of the Day of the LORD as Malachi’s prophecy has specified as should be viewed. Are you prepared to accept and proclaim the “Elijah message”? "Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel. "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of YHWH comes” (Malachi 4:4-5).