The God who must be obeyed (Exodus 32-34)
Exodus 34:6-7 is the longest and most complete description of God’s nature in Scripture. It follows on the heels of Israel building, then worshiping the golden calf – chapters 32-34. The problem we have in Exodus 32-34 is the problem of mankind on a small scale. How do you reconcile the mercy of God with His judgment?
Let us consider the golden calf incident in light of this description of God in Exodus 34:6-7. A major reason for the events in the book of Exodus is to let Israel and, subsequently the nations, know what type of God Jehovah is. Here, He describes Himself.
Turn back to 20:5-6. What connections do we draw between this passage and the one found in 34:6-7? The basis for God’s jealousy is what He has just said in the first commandment.
The making of the golden calf is an effort to incorporate the calf within the worship of Jehovah God by making an altar before it and proclaiming that this [a visible manifestation] is the Lord who brought them out of Egypt (32:5). So, worship of the calf is a repudiation of the worship of God.
AFTER THE SIN:
God declares His desire to destroy Israel in Exodus 32:10 but in 34:10, God reiterates His desire to make a covenant with Israel. How do we get from one to the other?
When Israel attributes to the golden calf their deliverance from Egypt, they undermine the very foundation of their relationship with God. The breaking of this relationship is illustrated by Moses breaking the tablets of stone (32:19).
How can you repudiate any more clearly your relationship with God? It is comparable to the unforgiveable sin in Matthew 12.
When something has been given to God (as Israel was), made holy, sanctified, purified, it cannot be taken back. It cannot be made common again. It has to be destroyed. That’s why God is going to destroy Israel. That is the end result of a Christian leaving Christ and going back into the world.
MOSES’ FIRST PETITION:
Observe Moses’ description in verse 11 – “your people” which brings us back to 9:16. See what God had said in 32:7 and 9. Moses reminds the Lord that they are His people.
Then, he invokes the Lord’s reputation – how will the Lord be known back in Egypt? God is to be known both as powerful and as good.
Finally, Moses invokes God’s promises to the patriarchs.
The conclusion is in 32:14 – God does not relent because Israel deserves it. God relents because of Who God is. Moses defends the Lord before the Lord.
Next Monday, we’ll look at Moses’ other intercessions on behalf of Israel.