Tags: Bible lessons on Exodus, Bible study on Exodus, commentary on Exodus, deliverance, Exodus, Moses, signs and wonders, Sunday School lessons on Exodus
Key Themes in the Book of Exodus:
1. The Lord sets His people free. (Exodus 5:1)
SIGN: The actual “exiting” from Egypt (Exodus 12:51)
SEAL: The plagues – especially the death of the firstborn (Exodus 12:29)
DELIVERANCE: The destruction of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea (Exodus 14:27) [If you are a Christian, the Lord has set you free and He has destroyed the power of your enemies.]
2. The freedom which the Lord grants comes with the responsibility of obedience. (Exodus 15:26)
SIGN: The Decalogue and the Covenant Code (Exodus 20:1)
SEAL: The splashing of blood (Exodus 24:6-8)
DELIVERANCE: A true system of worship (Exodus 20:23-24)
3. The Lord allows trials and tests to strengthen faith. (Exodus 14:3-4)
SIGNS: Trapped at the Red Sea; Amalekite attack; lack of water and food (Exodus 14:10, 17:8-9, 16:2-4, 17:1-3)
SEALS: Red Sea parted (Exodus 14:21-22); water and manna provided (Exodus 15:25, 16:13-15)
DELIVERANCE: Promise of a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8)
4. The Lord wants intimate worship. (Exodus 6:7)
SIGN: The appointment of Moses as mediator and intercessor (Exodus 19:3, 32:11-14)
SEAL: The instruction to build a tabernacle in the midst of the people (Exodus 25:8)
DELIVERANCE: The continuing office of priests (Exodus 40:15)
5. The Lord wants sacrificial worship from His people. (Exodus 3:18)
SIGN: Offerings would be integral to worship (Exodus 13:15)
SEAL: The acceptance of shed blood for the remission of sins (Exodus 29:10-22)
DELIVERANCE: The provision by God of the things to be sacrificed, as opposed to Pharaoh’s cruel order that they find their own straw (Exodus 12:22-23, 5:10-12)
6. The Lord wants to abide permanently with His people. (Exodus 19:5-6)
SIGN: The promise of the Lord to be their national and personal God (Exodus 33:12-17)
SEAL: A detailed, intricate, specific, yet mobile, tabernacle, as opposed to pilgrimages to a holy place (Exodus 25:9)
DELIVERANCE: The glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:34)
Links to lessons in the Exodus category:
1. God’s People in the World (Exodus 1)
2. Moses as a Type of Christ (Exodus 1-2)
3. How God Prepares Leaders (Exodus 2-3)
4. When It’s Time to Cut Loose (Exodus 2, 4:21-26)
5. What Is God Like? (Exodus 3, 15:11)
6. Don’t Beat around the Bush (Exodus 3-4)
7. Spiritual Arteriosclerosis (Exodus 4, 7-11, 14)
8. This Is Not a Negotiation (Exodus 5, 7, 8, 10, 14)
9. Beware False Finger-Pointing (Exodus 5)
10. The Manager Who Thought He Was an Owner (Exodus 7:5; Luke 20:9-16)
11. Knowing that He Is the Lord (Exodus 7, 8, 14)
12. Smiting the Gods (Exodus 7-8)
13. Outer Darkness and Inner Darkness (Exodus 10)
14. Evil Angels (Exodus 11-12)
15. The Passover: Killing, Purging, and Eating (Exodus 12)
16. The Lambs that Were Silenced but Still Speak Today (Exodus 12)
17. Remembering the Garlic (Exodus 12-13; Numbers 11:4-10)
18. The Why behind the What and the How (Exodus 13)
19. A Three-Item To-Do List before Leaving Egypt Behind (Exodus 13)
20. Two Miracles: A Parted Sea and a Hardened Heart (Exodus 14)
21. Delaying Dutifully During Deliverance (Exodus 14)
22. Poetry, Dancing, and the Wondrous Fear of God (Exodus 15)
23. When the Lord Becomes Your Song (Exodus 15)
24. Omniscience, Obstacles, Opportunities, and Overruling Oversight (Exodus 15-16)
25. The Bookends of Faith (Part 1) (Exodus 3:13-14, 16; John 6:26-51)
26. How to Raise Your Hand During a Test (Exodus 17)
27. A Busy Time-Out (Exodus 18-19)
28. Three Reasons for Ten Commandments (Revelatory) (Exodus 20)
29. Three Reasons for Ten Commandments (Restrictive) (Exodus 20)
30. Three Reasons for Ten Commandments (Reflective) (Exodus 20)
31. Three Words about God: His Supremacy, His Image, and His Name (Exodus 20:1-7)
32. A Fourth Word about God: His Rest (Exodus 20:3-11)
33. Teaching the 3rd and 4th Commandments to Children (Exodus 20:7-8) *
34. Catechism Question 2 (Exodus 20:11)
35. The Horizontal Words (Exodus 20:12-17)
36. Frightening Words (Exodus 20:18-20)
37. Reverence as a Warning Against Idolatry (Exodus 20:18-26)
38. A Justice Sandwich (Exodus 21)
39. Properly Promoting the Principle of Personal Property (Exodus 22)
40. A Revelation of a Violation against Revilation (Exodus 22:28)
41. Peer Pressure and Robin Hood Theology Exposed (Exodus 23:2-3)
42. The Forbidden Recipe and the Special Angel (Exodus 23:19-21, 20:22-23)
43. A Bloody Confirmation and Covenant (Exodus 23-24)
44. Restriction and Freedom in Worship (Exodus 24-25)
45. Worship Is about Sacrifice (Exodus 26-28)
46. Oh be Careful, Little Ears, Thumbs, and Toes (Exodus 29)
47. The True Consecration (Exodus 29-31)
48. Why We Can, and Cannot, Have Nice Things (Exodus 31-32)
49. Syncretism and Sexual Sin (Exodus 32:5-6)
50. Corrupt Curving off Course (Exodus 32:7-9)
51. The Intercessory Prayer of Moses (Exodus 32:10-13)
52. The Personality of God (Exodus 32, 14:12)
53. When the Word of God Crashes the Party (Exodus 32:15-20)
54. The Consequences of Partying Naked (Exodus 32:21-25)
55. The Great Peradventure (Exodus 32:26-30)
56. God’s Unassisted Bookkeeping (Exodus 32:31-35)
57. What Moses Really Wanted from God (Exodus 33)
58. Catechism Question 13 (Exodus 33:20)
59. The Relief and Terror of God’s Presence (Exodus 34)
60. Unveiled Glory and Unguarded Giving (Exodus 34-35; II Corinthians 3:7-18)
61. Up to Spec (Exodus 35-38)
62. Command-Fulfillment Pattern (Exodus 35-40)
63. The Tabernacle Completed, Inspected, and Turned over to the Owner (Exodus 40)
* most-viewed post in category
Tags: building contractors, commentary on Exodus, Exodus 40, Moses, Sunday School lessons on Exodus, Tabernacle
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.
The Tabernacle was set up for the first time on the first day of the new year (which would be sometime around March-April on our modern calendar).
Thus did Moses: according to all that the LORD commanded him, so did he. And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up.
This would have been about 11 months after the people reached Mt. Sinai.
One of the themes of Exodus Chapter 40 is “just as the LORD commanded him.”
And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work.
Moses wasn’t the designer or the builder or even the general contractor – but he was the quality control supervisor.
Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.
Imagine or recall the feeling of seeing your baby for the first time or a house you were having built finally finished or your wedding day finally arrives or your child gets married or graduates – but Moses could not go in while the Lord’s presence filled it. A builder is no longer allowed to go into a home he has been hired to build once he hands over the keys to the owner, unless he has the owner’s permission.
Tags: Biblical repetition, commentary on Exodus, Exodus 38, Exodus 39, Exodus 40, hermeneutics, Moses, Sunday School lessons on Exodus, Tabernacle, true worship
The repetition in Exodus 35-38 is an example of the “command-fulfillment” pattern. The Holy Spirit could have inspired Moses to write, “They did everything the LORD told them to do” or “and so it was done,” but, instead, He restates the instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle. This command-fulfillment pattern was also used in the description by God to Moses of what would happen in Egypt with the plagues, and then the recitation of the fulfillment of it exactly as He said.
One reason for the use of the command-fulfillment pattern was to illustrate externally what was happening internally. The commandment against coveting, for example, is difficult to document and verify, but the command to sew a scarlet and blue and gold curtain was not. Therefore, the pattern demonstrates a verification of the people’s obedience.
Another reason was that this would be a teaching tool for the priests to use later in instructing future generations of priests and people in how to worship Yahweh. It is intended for learning by repetition.
A third reason is that it would remind people that worship of God is supposed to be sacrificial, not “easy” – especially with them going into a land where an idol would be hanging from every tree and standing in every field. It would serve as a safeguard against lazy idolatry by reminding the people that the real God deserves attention and sacrifice.
A fourth reason was that preparing to worship is itself worship. This would be a good reminder that everything is an act of worship.
A fifth reason was that God graciously allows willing participation. The structure of the commands told them they needed to “think” and “act” in obedience. This would teach the people to obey God in what He has specifically said, but to also use their brains and their backs to honor Him with the freedom He allows. Free obedience seems contradictory, but it is really a beautiful paradox found only in true worship of the true God.
Sixth, spotting minor changes between the commands and the fulfillment reminds us not to “skim” – not to take for granted any passages of Scripture. Every jot and tittle is important to God. It also teaches us the importance of how, as children of God, we are to exercise precision in how we speak. For example, Christians shouldn’t say that they are “proud” of their kids. They shouldn’t “thank their lucky stars.”
All the gold that was occupied for the work in all the work of the holy place, even the gold of the offering, was twenty and nine talents, and seven hundred and thirty shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary.
That’s between 2000 and 2200 pounds of gold.
And the silver of them that were numbered of the congregation was an hundred talents, and a thousand seven hundred and threescore and fifteen shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary: A bekah for every man, that is, half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for every one that went to be numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty men.
That’s about 7545 pounds of silver.
After they finished all the furnishings and the priests’ garments, they brought everything to Moses to inspect:
Thus was all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation finished: and the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did they. And they brought the tabernacle unto Moses, the tent, and all his furniture, his taches, his boards, his bars, and his pillars, and his sockets,
And he did inspect it thoroughly:
According to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel made all the work. And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the LORD had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them.
The idea is not that Moses gave a cursory look-see. Remember, he had seen these things in a vision in the glory cloud on Mt. Sinai. He knew how God wanted them to look and function, and he did a very careful and thorough inspection. It is noteworthy that such a project was accomplished, but it is truly remarkable that it was done “as the LORD had commanded.”
Now it needed to be set up.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.
Tags: Bezalel, Biblical construction, commentary on Exodus, Exodus 35, Exodus 36, Exodus 37, Exodus 38, Sunday School lessons on Exodus, The Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle
And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship;
After the people had given abundantly towards the materials to be used in constructing the Tabernacle, the Lord “super-charged” Bezalel’s already-existing (and already God-given) talents. There are some things at which you are naturally very skilled, but the Lord can make you even better at them once they are consecrated to His service.
And all the wise men, that wrought all the work of the sanctuary, came every man from his work which they made; And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make. And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.
Moses gave a commandment saying don’t bring any more stuff, rather than telling the people to just keep building or making it more elaborate, because what had been given was to be used for a specific work which the Lord had commanded to be done in a very specific way (“up to spec” or “to certain specifications,” we might say).
And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make.
God wouldn’t be impressed with their ideas. He would be pleased with obedience.
And Bezaleel made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half the height of it: And he overlaid it with pure gold within and without, and made a crown of gold to it round about.
The command to build the Ark had come earlier in the description of what to build (Exodus 25:10-15), but the actual building of it came much later in the order of construction. This was so that the Ark – the holiest of all the Tabernacle furnishings – wouldn’t be left lying out in the open for everyone to gaze upon. The curtains of the inner sanctum – the Holy of Holies – and even the curtains in which it was to be wrapped for traveling – needed to be manufactured first to protect and shield it.
And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
The laver was for purifying and washing. It was to be made of brass (most likely an alloy of tin and copper in those days, probably the purest brass they had). This brass would have come from their mirrors. As a father of four daughters, this is one of the ways I know that that the Israelite people were really excited and willing about obeying and giving: The women gave up their mirrors! Seriously, though, it does make a good object lesson. They got their eyes off themselves and onto God. There’s a reason why they call a mirror you can sit down in front of a “vanity.”
Tags: 2 Corinthians 3, commentary on Exodus, Exodus 34, Exodus 35, Law and Gospel, Moses, Old Testament Law, Sunday School lessons on Exodus, the Tabernacle
God’s people in Canaan would not just be different for the sake of being different. Having different laws, different clothes, different habits and customs, different worship, and being monotheistic, they would stand out as being a people who worshiped an unseen God rather than visible idols. They would also be a people with a God Whose reputation was mighty.
And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee.
The Lord reinstituted the covenant they had broken. His people would have the comfort and joy and privilege of seeing Him do things that were unlike anything that had been seen before, but the pagans would see, too, and it would be evidence that the God worshiped by the Israelites was the real God. It would also be evidence to show that those who worshiped Him would be blessed.
I previously discussed Moses’s glowing face, and the veil which he wore to shield it from the people so they could come near him.
And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.
The other reason for this veil was that it would serve for an illustration in the New Testament
But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:
II Corinthians 3:7
“The ministration of death” means that death comes upon all who sin, and the Law was given to show us our sin. It was written and engraved on stones, and it was glorious. It revealed the nature of God, but the Law’s glory had a built-in expiration date. It faded away, just as eventually the light of Moses’s countenance began to fade after his encounters with God.
How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?
II Corinthians 3:8
The stone-engraved law was glorious, but the ministry of the Holy Spirit Himself is greater.
For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
II Corinthians 3:9
The Law showed the problem, but it didn’t offer a solution. It condemned for lack of righteousness, but it could not reproduce its own righteousness in fallen human beings.
For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.
II Corinthians 3:10
So great is the glory of Christ-imputed righteousness that it makes the brilliant glory of the Law seem dim.
For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.
II Corinthians 3:11
This glory was always there, but it is now more fully given.
Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:
II Corinthians 3:12
A veil over a person’s face obscures his words when he speaks.
And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:
II Corinthians 3:13
The people could see their need for righteousness, but the Savior Who would abolish the Law through its fulfillment was shadowy – not yet fully visible.
But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.
II Corinthians 3:14
But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
II Corinthians 3:15-16
Jesus will – and He must if we are to see truth – come rip away the veil for those who admit their sin and their need for the Savior and call upon Him.
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
II Corinthians 3:17-18
The change from Law to Gospel was glorious. It was a change from lesser to greater glory, but there are higher gradations (“from glory to glory”) yet to come in your sanctification, if you are in Christ Jesus.
In Exodus 35 there is a repetition of the commandments and instructions concerning construction of the Tabernacle and its furnishings that had been stated before, and the account of their fulfillment.
And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying, Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD; gold, and silver, and brass,
And all the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD’s offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments. And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of gold unto the LORD.
The people had given their possessions willingly to be used in their idolatry, but now they gave even more willingly in true worship. Their preparation for worship was in itself an act of worship. Think of what you spend willingly on, and think about what it would be like to spend just as joyfully on the work of the Lord. Let’s pray that we don’t have to drink our defiled possessions and suffer a plague or some severe chastening before we recognize the peace of joyful giving.
The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses. And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship;
Tags: Biblical paradoxes, commentary on Exodus, Exodus 34, fear of the Lord, Moses, Mount Sinai, presence of God, radiance of God, Sunday School lessons on Exodus
What a great relief it must have been to hear that God would re-write His covenant laws on tables of stone. Moses obeyed God and took two blank slabs up Mt. Sinai. Then God descended and proclaimed His name and His attributes.
And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
Do you hear the ominous note in Verse 7? “By no means clear the guilty.” Can you sense the tension and paradox between that and “forgiving iniquity [our sinful condition] and transgression [intentional sin] and sin [the most general category encompassing everything worthy of judgment and death]?”
Moses did not argue or debate:
And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.
He worshiped. God is not a problem to be solved. He is a Person to be worshiped.
Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; 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.
He told them that, when they got to the promised land, they must destroy the wicked people of the land, or else the wicked people of the land would corrupt them.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.
Again, this must have been a huge relief for Moses – that God was renewing or reconfirming His covenant with the people and reassuring them that He would be with them.
And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.
Moses’s face radiated in a way that was visible to those who saw him, but that he himself could not feel. This was a sort of foreshadowing of the great evidence of God’s presence with us in Christ. It makes us humble, yet it should impress and even convict others when God’s glory shines in our life. In Moses’s case, it was literally visible, though, and it terrified the people. They could not honestly question the fact of Moses’s appointment by God as their earthly leader while his face resembled a miniature version of the glory cloud of flashing stormy light they had previously seen on Mt. Sinai. He had to cover his face with a veil so that they could stand to be near him.
And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.
Tags: commentary on Exodus, evangelism, Exodus 33, intercession of Moses, Moses, motivations for evangelism, revelation of God, seeing God, Sunday School lessons on Exodus
In instructing Moses to proceed into Canaan, the Lord said that He would withdraw His presence further from them, and that He would assign an angel to lead them and fight for them, because they were stiffnecked.
And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.
God expressed concern that He might be forced to destroy them when they disobeyed again. The people did not like this. In their repentance they wanted God near them. The Lord arranged for a new meeting place with Moses – a tabernacle outside of the camp.
And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp. And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door.
Here Moses continued to intercede for a full restoration of God’s presence with the people, to which God ultimately agreed
For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.
This favorable response from God emboldened Moses to ask for “the big one:”
And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.
Moses did not want fame, comfort, security, or even health. What he longed for was more revelation of God – a greater understanding of God. This came from spending time with God in whatever ways God had allowed already. It came from unquestioning obedience to God, and a love for others, in the sense of wanting to bring them into fellowship with God. May we want God Himself and not just what He provides, and may our evangelism be motivated by unselfish love. May our motivation for evangelism be centered on trying to get people to God for His glory and their good.
Tags: Book of Life, Book of the Living, commentary on Exodus, Exodus 32, God's books, God's mercy, Moses, price of forgiveness, Romans 9, Sunday School lessons on Exodus
And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.
Moses acknowledged the seriousness of the people’s sin, and he admitted that it was not just a vague general sin, but a specific breaking of God’s revealed law (“made them gods of gold”).
Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.
He broaches the idea of forgiveness, but does not make excuses or rationalizations (“forgive their sin”), and he leaves this thought incomplete, because it is too amazing a thought that God would forgive sin, and because, really, what can we possibly offer as an exchange for God’s forgiveness? How can we “pay Him back?” Or bribe Him? We are bankrupt when it comes to righteousness.
Moses was forced to bring up the alternative: “if not…” And he then stated a desire to be judged with the people – to lose his own life. For all Moses knew, he could have been referring to eternal life. This reminds us of Paul’s statement in Romans 9:3: “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:” As a missionary to the gentiles, Paul saw many converted, but his own people – the Jews – were for the most part rejecting the Gospel. He wished he could be accursed if it would mean salvation for Israel.
Moses referred, in Exodus 32:32, to “Thy book,” which lets us know that God keeps books. From the entirety of Scripture we can glean that God keeps at least four books: The Book of the Living; The Lamb’s Book of Life; a book of sins; and the Bible. (There is possibly also a book of works and rewards.)
This was a very pious and unselfish plea by Moses, and there is no reason to think he was not being sincere, but God set him straight:
And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.
God is in charge of deciding who will and who will not be blotted out of His book. God also distinguished Moses’s relative innocence compared to the idolaters.
Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.
God was telling him that it was time to get moving toward Canaan. Having the “Angel” lead the way was an invitation to see how people would react to having God’s presence somewhat removed from them. “The day” referred to a future time when God would allow the nation to be taken captive to Babylon. This was a yet-to-come judgment against the nation for its sin. Their immediate consequence was a plague.
And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.
People probably got sick and some may have died. In this plague even the bystanders were affected – not just the active participants in the idolatrous revelry – because passive onlookers who fail to speak out against their nation’s sin are sinners, too – just as the spectators of a violent crime who did nothing to help the victim would be next in line for punishment after the perpetrators.
Tags: atonement, capital punishment, commentary on Exodus, death penalty, Exodus 32, idolatry, Jesus Christ, Moses, Salvation, Sunday School lessons on Exodus
Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.
“The gate of the camp” was just as significant as the location where Moses had chosen to smash the tablets. It was the official dividing line between God’s “chosen people” and just “people.” These were people who had forfeited their claim to God’s special protection and in fact had “exposed themselves” (both literally and figuratively) to God’s judgment and wrath.
Do you remember hearing or reading about the legendary incident from the Alamo when Colonel Buck Travis is said to have drawn a line in the sand to see who wanted to stay and who wanted to leave? Moses did something similar here – and the Levites made a wise choice in front of everyone. Imagine Aaron’s shame as he walked from the people over to Moses.
And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.
Moses used classic prophetic-command speech: “Thus saith the LORD God of Israel…” = “This is God’s idea, not just mine. Get your swords, go in and out, make inquiries about who wants to stick with the idolatry and who wants to repent. Kill the ones who won’t confess and repent.” This was an observance of the legal death penalty. It didn’t matter who – their neighbors, their friends, their own family members. It sounds barbaric to us, doesn’t it? I hope you don’t want to throw out your Bible and become a Liberal at this point, although, sadly, many have. You’ll have to reject the truth to do it – and you’ll also have to blame God for protecting your soul about 3000 years before you were even born. Remember, these were enemy combatants in a war – the war for truth – and those that chose to take the side of idolatry by refusing to repent are the ones who were willing to send everyone to hell for the sake of a pathetic bull-god orgy – even after waking up with their hangovers. I’m glad we don’t have to kill the apostates and the pagans today as New Testament Christians, but it would be good for us to remember that the stakes are just as high, in a sense.
And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.
3000 executed criminals sounds like huge number, but that is just a fraction of the number that had been partying, because some of the guilty ones apparently repented and were spared.
For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves today to the LORD, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.
This gives more insight into how the fathers and male leaders were given an opportunity to repent and survive the Levite purge.
And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.
You can see the heaviness that was on Moses the next day, but he knew the job was not finished. He still refused to sugarcoat their sin, because he knew there are consequences to even forgiven sin. In Exodus 32:30 the Holy Spirit has recorded the words of Moses – not as a prophetic revelation – but as a heavy sighing fumbling for the right word to describe what he knows he is going to have to attempt: atonement. “Peradventure.” What a terrifically descriptive word for the man who had been in the presence of this holy God – who knew His hatred for sin – but who also knew His mercy in response to confession and prayer. “I shall make;” “at one ment.” “Maybe I can somehow bring us back into loving fellowship with our God Who we’ve offended so greatly.” I hope you can hear that word “atonement” echoing all the way through the Old Testament into the New Testament and on into your life. I myself remember the estrangement from God – the horror of knowing He was completely beyond my sinful reach – when Jesus – the Rescuer – the Atoner – the AtoneMENT – brought me to Him!
Tags: Aaron, blame-shifting, commentary on Exodus, degrees of sin, Exodus 32, idolatry, Moses, Sunday School lessons on Exodus, the golden calf, true confession
And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?
Notice how Moses correctly attributed blame to both the people (it was their idea) and Aaron (he did “bring the sin upon them”). Notice also the designation “sin” and the attribution of a degree: “so great a sin.” Idolatry is indeed a great sin.
Moses was so bold as he stood alone among riotous sinners because he had been in the presence of God. You and I, as Christians, will wilt in the face of resistance, ridicule, and the threat of reprisals if we try to stand for Christ in our own strength. But if we have been alone with God – hearing His Word – forsaking earthly distractions – we will be as bold as a lion.
And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief.
Aaron deferred to Moses (“my lord”), but then tried to blame-shift. God had told Moses “I have seen this people, they are stiff-necked.” Now Aaron tells Moses, “Thou knowest the people, they are set on mischief.” This did not fool Moses. He knew that God’s assessment trumped Aaron’s assessment.
For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.
Aaron’s statement started off sounding like a confession, until he uttered the phrase, “out came this calf,” as if it’s something that “just happened.” The Bible had already told us what really happened:
And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:)
This makes it sound like Aaron made them strip off their clothes, but I think it is really referring back to Aaron’s instructions to give him their earrings to make the calf-idol. Moses recognized the spiritual implications of their sin – they removed God’s protection by breaking the Covenant – and now, having foolishly pretended that the bull idol could lead them, they were conversely in a worse position: truly exposed to their enemies.