If you’re like me, there’s been a point in your time where you’ve forgotten something important…or maybe multiple points in time. But is it possible that we could forget God? It sounds outlandish, and yet that’s exactly what happened with the people of Israel in Exodus 32. God pursues rebellious sinners to reconcile us back to Himself. Much like the people in the book of Exodus, the story that unfolds there is the same story that unfolds in our lives.
- God’s Kindness toward Us: Exodus 1-31
As we have been working through the book of Exodus, we have seen God’s kindness extended toward His people. God’s pursuit, release from slavery, generous provision and covenant with the people all point toward God’s kindness. What we see in the beginning of Exodus 32, is our response to God’s kindness.
- Our Rebellion Toward God: Ex 32:1-6
The people rebel against God. While Moses is on the mountain, the people pursue false gods. There are two aspects of rebellion that show up here that are important for us to consider. The first is the people want God to work on their timetable. We are much the same way. Typically, we want God to work NOW! Don’t mistake what you believe to be God’s delay, when in actuality God is working, creating, refining or producing something in you that would not be accomplished if God fixed it immediately. Secondly, the people want God to work their way. They constantly rebel and reject what God has commanded of them, and go their own way in pursuing God. They have entirely forgotten God and His commands.
- God’s Wrath Against Sin: Ex 32:7-29
What follows the people’s rebellion is God’s wrath against sin. It’s important for us to note is this is always God’s response to sin. In reading this section, God’s response may seem extreme. We may even find ourselves asking, why is God so angry about this? Truly, what we’re asking is why is God so angry about sin? The answer is simple, God hates sin! The reason God hates sin is because of what sin does. It distorts and destroys creation, it brings about death and it will require the death of Jesus. It’s because of this, that God takes all sin seriously.
- God’s Rescue for His People: Ex 32:30-35
At this point, things are bleak for God’s people. Moses steps in and intervenes on their behalf. Moses asks God to forgive the people; but since God can’t without a sacrifice, Moses asks that God should blot himself out. Moses is not issuing an ultimatum, he’s saying to God, if you can’t forgive the sin of the people, then put your wrath on me instead. Moses is functioning in a similar fashion to what we will see with Jesus. Except for Moses; he too has sin and is an inadequate substitute. A day would come when God would send His perfect, sinless Son who would be an adequate substitute to take the place of sinful humanity. In Jesus, the judgment of God falls upon Christ, and not upon us.
As we begin to move away from Easter, let us keep in front of us the full and complete atonement of Jesus in our place. Let us be reminded of His amazing rescue, His victory over death, and the incredible hope that we have in Him!