What was the significance that Moses broke the first set of the 10 commandment tablets?
Deuteronomy 9:13-21, Moses describes his greatest, along with the Lord’s, at the idolatry of Israel. They made a golden calf and worshiped it right after hearing the audible voice of God of God speak the Ten Commandments, the first of which is to have no other gods before him.
Moses says he came down the mountain because God wanted to destroy the Israelites and start over. When he came down from the mountain, he was so surprised and angry at the Israelites for their idolatry that he threw the tablets and they broke (Deuteronomy 9:17).
The anger of Moses resembles the anger of God. How could the Israelites turn to an idol right after God told them to not have any? It was probably out of anger then Moses broke the tablets, it also sounds like a deliberate act.
Perhaps he was showing the people they had already broken God’s covenant with them just days after they heard from him audibly. In breaking the stone tablets Moses made an object lesson for the people of Israel. He showed them with the stone tablets breaking that they broke the covenant.
After 40 days and 40 nights on the mountain with God, an absolute fast, Moses holds another absolute fast of another 40 days (Deuteronomy 9:18). Moses was afraid for the people, that God would strike all of them dead in an instant. So he interceded for them in prayer and fasting.
Their actions were so egregious to God and filled him with so much wrath that it took not only 40 days of prayer but the accompaniment of fasting, an absolute fast (Deuteronomy 9:19-20). This showed how much Moses had to plead before the Lord for the nation of Israel.
He took the golden calf and grounded down into a fine dust and threw it in the brook from the mountain. It had to be completely destroyed. We must get rid of anything that threatens idolatry in our lives. We don’t want to break our relationship with God.