Today we begin Exodus Chapter 33.
For the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James Version, click here.
Adonai said to Moshe, “Leave, you and the people you brought up from the land of Egypt; and move on from here toward the land of which I swore to Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya‘akov, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I will send an angel ahead of you; and I will drive out the Kena‘ani, Emori, Hitti, P’rizi, Hivi and Y’vusi. You will go to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I myself will not go with you, because you are such a stiffnecked people that I might destroy you on the way.”-Exodus 33:1-3
Has anybody ever seen that movie Fatal Attraction starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close?
It’s the story about Dan Gallagher, a successful New York lawyer (played by Michael Douglas) married with a daughter who one fateful evening has an extramarital affair with his colleague Alex.
After a series of heart wrenching events, the time finally arrives when Dan confesses to his wife Beth what he did.
Beth understandably explodes with rage but in the end forgives her husband and then decides to work towards reconciliation.
However, from that point on, the dynamic of the relationship was transformed and had taken on a somber tone.
This was to be expected.
For trust had been broken in one of the most sacred relationships ordained by God: the marriage covenant.
Although the analogy is not perfect, this is kind of where Israel is at in its relationship with the Lord.
The Mosaic Covenant had just been broken and although the Lord had extended forgiveness, there was lingering bitterness still in the air.
The Lord tells them, “My messenger will go before you, but don’t expect Me to go up with you, lest I put an end to you on the way”.
After the flaring of His anger over the Golden Calf, it appears the Lord preferred to keep a certain distance from this provoking people, whose behavior could easily push Him to destroy them entirely.
Accordingly, the Lord commands the people to remove their ornaments.
A “NO JEWELRY ALLOWED” rule had just been established.
There are a couple of reasons for this.
First, the wearing of jewelry signifies joyousness, and in light of what had just happened, there couldn’t be anything more inappropriate than decorating one’s body with flashy ornaments.
The Israelites should have been in a state of mourning for what had just occurred.
Second, it was this very jewelry that had been used for making the golden calf in the first place.
Recall, the jewelry was the result of a God-ordained retribution upon the Egyptians for the many years of Hebrew slavery.
Third, all of the precious metals the Hebrews took with them when they left Egypt would be needed for the Lord’s dwelling place.
So this is all the bad news.
The punishment for Israel breaking the covenant is that for the time being God would not dwell among them, but instead would send an angel ahead of Israel who would drive out the Canaanites, the Emorites, the Hittites, the Perrizites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
However, the good news is that the goal to reach the land of promise, Canaan, remains.
In verse one, the Lord orders Israel to strike camp and move on.
The Law and instructions for God’s Tabernacle had been given.
It was time to move on towards the goal.