The Law Broken & the Second Giving of the Law
Exodus 32 – 34
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.