Friday, March 17, 2023

2023.03.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 32:10–14

Read Exodus 32:10–14

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Yahweh tell Moses to do (Exodus 32:10)? In order for what two things to happen to Israel? And in order for what to happen to Moses? But what does Moses do instead (Exodus 32:11)? What does he ask? What does Moses call Israel (cf. Exodus 32:7a)? Who does Moses say has brought them out of the land of Egypt (cf. verse 7b)? How? But what would happen if He destroys them now (Exodus 32:12)? Whom does Moses ask Yahweh to remember (Exodus 32:13a, cf. end of Exodus 32:10)? What words does he ask Him to remember (Exodus 32:13b)? How does Yahweh respond (Exodus 32:14)? 

What hope can there be for those against whom the Lord’s wrath burns hot? Exodus 32:10–14 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the hope for those against whom God’s wrath burns is His character and promises, pled by an appointed Mediator. 

A surprising command and proposition. The Lord has declared Israel to be stiff-necked in Exodus 32:9. Now in Exodus 32:10, He gives a shocking command and makes a shocking proposition. 

The surprising command is that Moses would let God alone. This is surprising for two reasons. The first reason is that the Lord has identified Himself with Israel and made promises to Israel. We will return to this when thinking about Moses’s reply. The second reason that the command is surprising is what it implies: if Moses intercedes for Israel, God will not burn His hot wrath against them and destroy them! Moses is a sinner. He has sinned much already, and he will be kept out of the promised land on account of his sin. But, if Moses doesn’t let God alone, then God will relent. He has appointed a mediator, and He will honor His appointment.

The surprising proposition is that He would start over with Moses. After destroying Israel, He would “make of you a great nation.” The singular “you” refers to Moses individually. It is the same promise as in Genesis 12:2 and Genesis 18:18, and it would still ultimately fulfill those promises. Moses would go on to fulfill his role as mediator, but if he had not, the multitude at the bottom of the mountain would surely have been rejected and consumed. 

A surprising disobedience? Exodus 32:11 begins with a surprise, “Then Moses pleaded with Yahweh his God.” At first, this seems to be a disobedience to the instruction in Exodus 32:10. But, the rest of Exodus 32:11 helps us understand. In Exodus 32:7, Yahweh had associated Israel with Moses’s person and Moses’s leadership: “your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt.” But this people is associated not just with Moses, but with God Himself. This people is led by not just Moses, but by God Himself. And, as Yahweh has already implied in Exodus 32:10, Moses’s appointment as mediator is so significant that Yahweh will surely hear his intercession. If the description in Exodus 32:7 had been the full story, then Moses should not indeed pray for them. The Lord is provoking him to pray for them not as his own, but as the Lord’s!

A surprising argument. Now, Moses makes his case. He reasons not only that they are the Lord’s people (as we have seen), but also that their deliverance from Egypt brought glory to the Lord’s power (“with great power and with a mighty hand,” Exodus 32:11). Secondly, he reasons that one of the main stated purposes of the Exodus—that Egypt would know that there is none like Yahweh Who saves His people (cf. Exodus 7:5, Exodus 8:10, Exodus 9:14)—would end up suffering loss, when the Egyptians mocked that He was not actually a deliverer at all (Exodus 32:12). 

Finally, in Exodus 32:13 he argues that the Lord must keep the covenant promises. In Genesis 15:13, the Lord had established a timeline for when Israel would come possess the land as a great nation with great possessions. God’s promises cannot be broken! Notice that Moses makes no argument at all that what Israel has done is excusable or understandable. The hope of forgiveness is entirely in God’s merciful character, invested glory, and unbreakable promises.

A satisfying outcome. “So Yahweh relented” (Exodus 32:14). The word translated “relented” is actually a causative verb form of the word for “compassion” and usually means “cause to be shown compassion” or “comforted.” The word is used this way also in 2 Samuel 24:16. In both places, there is a breaking out of the wrath of God, which is abbreviated by the intercession of a mediator (cf. Psalm 106:23). Moses prays, and in wrath the Lord remembers mercy. He is a type, a picture of Christ. And when Christ intercedes for us, He brings to bear His own atonement for us, and His own perfect righteousness on our behalf. Love sent the Son to be our Mediator, and the Son’s mediation brings more love—all for sinners who deserve nothing but wrath in themselves!

For whom are you instructed to pray? How do you know that God has ordained prayer to make a difference? Who is praying for you, when you need forgiveness and repentance? What will the outcome be?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for investing Your own glory in redeeming us. Forgive us our many and great sins. Hear Christ’s intercession for us, and have compassion upon us, and bring to pass all of Your promises, which we ask through Christ, in Whom those promises have their yes, and enables us to say, AMEN!

ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me”

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