God’s mercy has been present since the beginning of time. God’s mercy has been a part of every covenant he has made with people. Even though the Mosaic covenant was bilateral, meaning there was expectation that both parties would fulfill their commitment, God knew the people wouldn’t be able to keep the covenant. There was foreshadowing of Israel’s unfaithfulness in Exodus 20 when they couldn’t even listen to God speak because they were afraid of him (Exodus 20:18–20). They didn’t know his mercy then, but God would show it to them again.
The people of Israel were quick to break the covenant. They created an idol to serve rather than God (Exodus 32). After this fast failure, God showed his mercy to Moses and the Israelites by renewing the covenant. He did so through the creation of a new set of tablets and by reminding Moses and the people of his great mercy, grace, patience, faithfulness, forgiveness, and steadfast love (Exodus 34:1–9).
God then said, “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you” (Exodus 34:10).
In this renewal God would put on display his marvels. These marvels would be on display so all could see the great goodness, mercy, and grace of God. His marvels would not be dependent on the obedience of his people, and even in their disobedience God would show his mercy and love. This is the great grace and mercy of God.
On this new stone set of tablets, God re-wrote the commandments. And God promised to rewrite the law on the hearts of his people in the future. God wrote his laws on our hearts. His law of love and mercy would not be on the hardness of stone but on our hearts and minds (Jeremiah 31:31–34; Hebrews 10:15–18). As his people, our hearts and minds are renewed within us. And we have the Holy Spirit who reminds us of this law of love and grace written within us, that we might continue to live in the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ.