Friday, March 31, 2023

2023.03.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 32:25–35

Read Exodus 32:25–35

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Moses see in Exodus 32:25? How did they get to be this way? What did it cause, among whom? Where did Moses stand (Exodus 32:26)? For whom did he ask? Who came? On Whose behalf does he now speak (Exodus 32:27)? What does he tell them to carry? Where? To go where? Doing what? To whom? Who do according to what (Exodus 32:28)? With what result? Who speaks to them in Exodus 32:29? What does he tell them to do? Why do they need to be consecrated/cleansed (cf. Exodus 28:41)? When does Exodus 32:30 happen? To whom does Moses speak? What does he say they have done? Where is he going now? To do what? To Whom does Moses return in Exodus 32:31? What does he tell Him the people have committed? By making what? What does he hope God is willing to do (Exodus 32:32)? If there isn’t forgiveness, what does he ask God to do? Where is his name written? What does Yahweh say He will do to whom (Exodus 32:33)? What does He tell Moses to do with the people in Exodus 32:34? Where is he to lead them? Who will go before Moses? What will happen later? What will happen when that day comes? How does Exodus 32:35 describe that day? Why did Yahweh strike the people? Who, specifically, had produced the calf?

What must happen in response to great sin? Exodus 32:25–35 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eleven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that in response to great sin, there must be death, and there ought to be cleansing, intercession, atonement, and punishment. 

Death. The wages of sin is death. It says much about us that we are horrified by things like Exodus 32:27, but we are not horrified by sin itself. The Levites were given the will to volunteer to be on the Yahweh’s side (Exodus 32:26). The whole rest of Israel was supposedly keeping a feast to Yahweh, but when it came to actually honoring Him, no one else could be mustered. We ought to be amazed that any live (cf. Romans 6:23). Obviously, Israel did not take sin with deadly seriousness and were not duly impressed that any of them were still alive. As long as we live, we receive not just “better than” but “opposite what I deserve.”

Cleansing. Yahweh gave the Levites a heart toward Him, just as He had chosen the family of Aaron to be priests. The same “filling the hand” phrase is translated “consecrate” in Exodus 32:29 as was in Exodus 28:41. The Levites are not themselves clean, but for their role, they must be consecrated. For their role among the nations, Israel as a whole must be clean, must be holy, as Yahweh is holy. 

So too, Christians must have the cleansing of imputed righteousness from Christ and the holiness of righteous characters from Christ. And those who are called to office in the home (husband, father) or the church (elder, deacon) must be examples of purity in the life, just as they are set apart to that office by God.

Intercession. Moses has already interceded for Israel, but now he has seen for himself what has been done. The Lord had relented in Exodus 32:14, but after Aaron’s doubling down upon his wickedness, and the people’s requiring three thousand executions (Exodus 32:28) to restrain their self-expression in their manmade religion (Exodus 32:25), Moses realizes that further intercession is necessary (Exodus 32:30). The Lord Jesus offered Himself up once for all, and believers’ sin is entirely atoned for. But, His priestly work continues, always interceding for us by the power of His indestructible life. This is how He saves us to the uttermost (cf. Hebrews 7:25–27). 

Atonement. Moses hopes to “atone” for the people’s sin (Exodus 32:30), but he does not mean that he himself can satisfy God’s wrath. Rather, he acknowledges in Exodus 32:32 that if there is not forgiveness for sin, then he also cannot hope for anything other than to be blotted out of Yahweh’s book. This appears to be the first mention of Yahweh’s book of the living and righteous (cf. Psalm 69:28), which famously appears several times in Revelation (cf. Revelation 3:5, Revelation 13:8, Revelation 20:15). Moses’s hope for the people, and for his own soul, is that Yahweh would provide a way of atoning for their sin and satisfying His wrath.

Punishment. The Lord affirms that anyone whose sin remains cannot be in His book (Exodus 32:33), but that Moses’s calling has not been revoked (Exodus 32:34a). There is atonement, but it is not for everyone. There must be punishment on the day of visitation (verse 34b). As a token of this day, Yahweh strikes the people in Exodus 32:25. This knowledge contributes to our understanding of the cross. There is a great day of visitation yet to come. But Yahweh has already visited earth once. And when He did, He visited His wrath upon Himself at the cross in the place of all whose names will be found in the book of life when it is opened. God cannot stop being God. Justice belongs to His God-ness. Sin must be fully punished. The glory of how He has done this for believers is that there is something said upon the cross that will never be said in Hell: “It has been finished!”

What do you deserve for the “least” of your sins against God? What have been some of your greatest? How many have they been? How can you be ransomed? Cleansed? Consecrated? Forgiven?

Sample prayer:  Our souls praise You, O King of heaven, and we bring all that is within us unto You in tribute. For have ransomed, healed, restored, and forgiven us. You are worthy of everlasting power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing, for You have redeemed us and made us kings and priests to our God. So, receive our everlasting praise, by the help of Your Spirit, through Jesus Christ our Lord, AMEN!

ARP103A “O Bless the Lord, My Soul” or TPH239 “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven”

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