The Law Broken & the Second Giving of the Law
Exodus 32 – 34
Exodus 32 – 34
The Golden Calf (32:1-29)
1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people collected together to Aaron, and said to him, Up, make us a god, who will go before us; for this Moses, the man that has brought us up out of the land of Egypt, — we do not know what is become of him! 2 And Aaron said to them, Break off the golden rings that are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them to me. 3 Then all the people broke off the golden rings that were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he took them out of their hand, and fashioned it with a chisel and made of it a molten calf: and they said, This is thy god, Israel, who has brought thee up out of the land of Egypt! 5 And Aaron saw it, and built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation, and said, To-morrow is a feast to Jehovah! v.5 Aaron seeks to conceal the shame of their idolatry by putting the Lord’s name upon it. Having set up their idols, they call it the worship of the Lord; and thereby souls are deluded into acceptance of that which is really an abomination before God. – Dennet, Edward
6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered up burnt-offerings, and brought peace-offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to sport. v.6 Before Moses had come down from the mountain the children of Israel had broken the first three commandments: (1) taken themselves another god, (2) made a graven image, and (3) taken the Lord’s name in vain – they said “tomorrow is a feast day to the Lord”.
7 Then Jehovah said to Moses, Away, go down! for thy people, which thou hast brought out of the land of Egypt, is acting corruptly. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them: they have made themselves a molten calf, and have bowed down to it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, This is thy god, Israel, who has brought thee up out of the land of Egypt! 9 And Jehovah said to Moses, I see this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 And now let me alone, that my anger may burn against them, and I may consume them; and I will make of thee a great nation. v.10 By saying “let me alone” the Lord was drawing out Moses’ heart. Moses did not let Him alone (v.11)! This is similar to how Joseph’s true heart is seen behind his rough actions in Gen. 43.
11 And Moses besought Jehovah his God, and said, Why, Jehovah, doth thy wrath burn against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a strong hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, For misfortune he has brought them out, to slay them on the mountains, and to annihilate them from the face of the earth? Turn from the heat of thine anger, and repent of this evil against thy people! 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou sworest by thyself, and saidst to them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give to your seed, and they shall possess it for ever! 14 And Jehovah repented of the evil that he had said he would do to his people. v.14 Whenever we read of God repenting (or changing His mind) it has to do with His dispensational ways. His moral ways never change (Mal. 3:6), and His eternal purpose never changes (Eph. 1:10).
15 And Moses turned and went down from the mountain, with the two tables of the testimony in his hand — tables written on both their sides: on this side and on that were they written. 16 And the tables were God’s work, and the writing was God’s writing, engraven on the tables. 17 And Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, and said to Moses, There is a shout of war in the camp. 18 And he said, It is not the sound of a shout of victory, neither is it the sound of a shout of defeat: it is the noise of alternate singing I hear. 19 And it came to pass, when he came near the camp, and saw the calf and the dancing, that Moses’ anger burned, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and shattered them beneath the mountain. v.19 The divine tables of the law never reached the camp. It was impossible. The people had made a complete breach between themselves and God. Also, there could be no further question of obedience on the ground of pure law. They might be objects of mercy in response to intercession, but never as keepers of pure law.
20 And he took the calf that they had made, and burned it with fire, and ground it to powder, and strewed it on the water, and made the children of Israel drink it. 21 And Moses said to Aaron, What has this people done to thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin on them? 22 And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord burn! thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. 23 And they said to me, Make us a god, who will go before us; for this Moses, the man that has brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what is become of him! 24 And I said to them, Who has gold? They broke it off, and gave it me, and I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf. 25 And Moses saw the people how they were stripped; for Aaron had stripped them to their shame before their adversaries. 26 And Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, He that is for Jehovah, let him come to me. And all the sons of Levi gathered to him. v.26 In Genesis 34 Levi and Simeon had used the sword to dishonor the God of Jacob. Here is Exodus 32 Levi uses it to preserve the holiness of the testimony. In Deuteronomy 33 Levi gets a blessing while Simeon is left out.
27 And he said to them, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel: Put every man his sword upon his hip; go and return from gate to gate through the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbour. 28 And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses; and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. v.28 2 Corinthians 3:6. Look at Exodus 32:21 and Acts 2:41. The ministration of death: 3000 killed. The ministration of the Spirit: 3000 saved.
29 And Moses said, Consecrate yourselves to-day to Jehovah, yea, every man with his son, and with his brother, and bring on yourselves a blessing to-day.
Moses’ Intercession (32:30-35)
30 And it came to pass the next day, that Moses said to the people, Ye have sinned a great sin. And now I will go up to Jehovah: perhaps I shall make atonement for your sin. 31 And Moses returned to Jehovah, and said, Alas, this people has sinned a great sin, and they have made themselves a god of gold! 32 And now, if thou wilt forgive their sin … but if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book that thou hast written. 33 And Jehovah said to Moses, Whoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. 34 And now go, lead the people whither I have told thee: behold, my Angel shall go before thee; but in the day of my visiting I will visit their sin upon them. 35 And Jehovah smote the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron had made.
Threatened Separation and Moses’ Prayer (Exodus 33)
1 And Jehovah said to Moses, Depart, go up hence, thou and the people that thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, into the land that I swore unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it, 2 (and I will send an angel before thee, and dispossess the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite,) 3 into a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in the midst of thee, for thou art a stiff-necked people, — lest I consume thee on the way. 4 And when the people heard this evil word, they mourned; and no man put on his ornaments. 5 Now Jehovah had said to Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiff-necked people: in one moment I will come up into the midst of thee and will consume thee. And now put off thine ornaments from thee, and I will know what I will do unto thee. 6 And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments at mount Horeb. 7 And Moses took the tent, and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the Tent of meeting. And it came to pass that every one who sought Jehovah went out to the tent of meeting which was outside the camp. v.7 It does not appear that Moses, in pitching the tabernacle (a different one than the one built in Ex.40) outside the camp, was acting under any direct commandment from the Lord. It was rather spiritual discernment, entering into both the character of God and the state of the people.
8 And it came to pass, when Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose up, and stood every man at the entrance of his tent, and they looked after Moses until he entered into the tent. 9 And it came to pass when Moses entered into the tent, the pillar of cloud descended, and stood at the entrance of the tent, and Jehovah talked with Moses. 10 And all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent; and all the people rose and worshipped, every man at the entrance of his tent. 11 And Jehovah spoke with Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. And he returned to the camp; but his attendant, Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, departed not from within the tent. 12 And Moses said to Jehovah, Behold, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people; but thou dost not let me know whom thou wilt send with me; and thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in mine eyes. 13 And now, if indeed I have found grace in thine eyes, make me now to know thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thine eyes; and consider that this nation is thy people! 14 And he said, My presence shall go, and I will give thee rest. 15 And he said to him, If thy presence do not go, bring us not up hence. 16 And how shall it be known then that I have found grace in thine eyes — I and thy people? Is it not by thy going with us? so shall we be distinguished, I and thy people, from every people that is on the face of the earth. 17 And Jehovah said to Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast said; for thou hast found grace in mine eyes, and I know thee by name. 18 And he said, Let me, I pray thee, see thy glory. 19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thy face, and I will proclaim the name of Jehovah before thee; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. 20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face; for Man shall not see me, and live. v.20 With their own children they did not have the option of breaking the neck.
21 And Jehovah said, Behold, there is a place by me: there shalt thou stand on the rock. 22 And it shall come to pass, when my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand, until I have passed by. 23 And I will take away my hand, and thou shalt see me from behind; but my face shall not be seen.
Second Giving of the Law Mixed with Grace (Exodus 34)
1 And Jehovah said to Moses, Hew for thyself two tables of stone like the first; and I will write upon the tables the words that were upon the first tables, which thou hast broken. 2 And be ready for the morning, and go up in the morning to mount Sinai, and stand there before me on the top of the mountain. 3 And let no man go up with thee, neither shall any man be seen on all the mountain; neither shall sheep and oxen feed in front of that mountain. 4 And he hewed two tables of stone like the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning and went up to mount Sinai, as Jehovah had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone. 5 And Jehovah came down in the cloud, and stood beside him there, and proclaimed the name of Jehovah. 6 And Jehovah passed by before his face, and proclaimed, Jehovah, Jehovah GOD merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy unto thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but by no means clearing the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation. 8 And Moses made haste, and bowed his head to the earth and worshipped, 9 and said, If indeed I have found grace in thine eyes, Lord, let the Lord, I pray thee, go in our midst; for it is a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for an inheritance! 10 And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels that have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people in the midst of which thou art shall see the work of Jehovah; for a terrible thing it shall be that I will do with thee. 11 Observe what I command thee this day: behold, I will drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite. 12 Take heed to thyself, that thou make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which thou shalt come, lest it be a snare in the midst of thee; 13 but ye shall demolish their altars, shatter their statues, and hew down their Asherahs. 14 For thou shalt worship no other GOD; for Jehovah — Jealous is his name — is a jealous GOD; 15 lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and then, when they go a whoring after their gods, and sacrifice unto their gods, thou be invited, and eat of their sacrifice, 16 and thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods. 17 — Thou shalt make thyself no molten gods. 18 — The feast of the unleavened bread shalt thou keep: seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread, as I have commanded thee, at the appointed time of the month Abib; for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt. 19 — All that openeth the womb is mine; and all the cattle that is born a male, the firstling of ox and sheep. 20 But the firstling of an ass thou shalt ransom with a lamb; and if thou ransom it not, then shalt thou break its neck. All the first-born of thy sons thou shalt ransom; and none shall appear before me empty. 21 — Six days shalt thou work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest; in ploughing time and in harvest thou shalt rest. 22 — And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the first-fruits of wheat-harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the turn of the year. 23 Thrice in the year shall all thy males appear before the Lord Jehovah, the God of Israel. 24 For I will dispossess the nations before thee, and enlarge thy border, and no man shall desire thy land, when thou goest up to appear before the face of Jehovah thy God thrice in the year. 25 — Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left over night until the morning. 26 — The first of the first-fruits of thy land shalt thou bring into the house of Jehovah thy God. Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother’s milk. 27 And Jehovah said to Moses, Write thee these words; for after the tenor of these words have I made a covenant with thee and with Israel. 28 — And he was there with Jehovah forty days and forty nights; he ate no bread, and drank no water. — And he wrote on the tables the words of the covenant, the ten words. 29 And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai — and the two tables of testimony were in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mountain — that Moses knew not that the skin of his face shone through his talking with him. 30 And Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come near him. 31 And Moses called to them; and they turned to him, — Aaron and all the principal men of the assembly; and Moses talked with them. 32 And afterwards, all the children of Israel came near; and he gave them in commandment all that Jehovah had spoken with him on mount Sinai. 33 And Moses ended speaking with them; and he had put on his face a veil. 34 And when Moses went in before Jehovah to speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out; and he came out, and spoke to the children of Israel what he was commanded. 35 And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone; and Moses put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.