“Now, if you will just forgive their sin! But if you won’t, then, I beg you, blot me out of your book which you have written!” Adonai answered Moshe, “Those who have sinned against me are the ones I will blot out of my book. Now go and lead the people to the place I told you about; my angel will go ahead of you. Nevertheless, the time for punishment will come; and then I will punish them for their sin.” Adonai struck the people with a plague because they had made the calf, the one Aharon made.”-Exodus 32:32-35
Following the mass execution of golden calf idol worshippers, Moses makes it clear to the people that not only had they committed a horrific act of rebellion against the Lord but the covenant, the one that had just been ratified, was now broken.
As the sole mediator between the people and Israel, Moses had two things weighing heavily on his mind.
First, was there any way to atone for the sins of Israel?
Second, would it even be possible to re-establish the covenant that had just been rendered null and void?
Moses again inches his way back up the mountain, approaches the Lord and then begs God to blot him out of the book of life forever, if that is what it is going to take to have Israel forgiven of their great sins.
Could there be a clearer picture of our Savior mediating for us?
In spite of the terrible sins of the people, Moses is willing to have his very life blotted out of existence forever.
The Lord declines Moses offering of his own life as atonement for Israel’s sins replying “those who have sinned against me are the ones I will blot out of my book”.
Actually, this entire exchange between Moses and God already took place in verses 9– 13.
In these verses, God offered to make Moses the beginning of a new people after the destruction of all the Israelites.
Moses asks for death if God will not forgive Israel, and God replies that He will exact retribution only from the offenders.
Concerning this refusal of the Lord to accept Moses’s life for Israel’s sins, I glean two interesting takeaways here.
First, it appears that the Lord is laying down the principle that a man is responsible for his own sins.
Second, could not another reason why the Lord declined Moses’ life as atonement for the sins of Israel be because Moses simply wasn’t qualified?
In other words, unlike Yeshua, who was perfect and a lamb without blemish, at the end of a day, Moses was a human being with sinful tendencies like all of us and thus would not have been an appropriate sacrifice.
In closing and we’re going to finish Exodus 32 today, make no bones about it, sin MUST be punished.
The 3000 people who were put to death by the Levites was just the beginning.
The number of those who willingly participated in worshipping the golden calf was a lot higher than 3000.
We are told that God sent a plague as a punishment and as a result many more Hebrews died perished.
The lesson here is clear.
If you have entered into a covenant relationship with the Lord and sin against that covenant, there will be consequences, and depending on the nature of the sin, dire consequences.
There is always a price to pay for sin.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
The next day John saw Yeshua coming toward him
“Look, the Lamb of God,
who takes away the sin of the world!”
“Do not be deceived:
God cannot be mocked.
A man reaps what he sows.”
NEXT TIME WE BEGIN EXODUS CHAPTER 33