IN HARMS WAY
And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. Exodus 32:9-10
The sins of Israel have provoked the wrath of God, and he offers to make Moses the father of a new people for God. He asks Moses to allow him to release his anger against the rebels, knowing Moses will intercede for them. Such is the nature of an intercessor.
These people have rejected and scorned Moses in the past. Now they stand in total disobedience. But they are also rebelling against God himself. Moses can have his revenge, but it is not in his nature. That kind of anger is not there because he really is their friend. He can’t change who he is, or hold a grudge. He is longsuffering, and inclined to cover up their sins, to hide their failures.
And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people. Exodus 32:11-14
Moses started back down the mountain with the stone tablets of the law. Joshua had gone up with him, and heard the noise coming from the camp as they drew near.
And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear. Exodus 32:17-18
Joshua thought the noise was a battle, but Moses recognized that the sound was a party in progress. In one way Joshua was right though. There was a spiritual battle taking place, and Israel was experiencing a terrible defeat. Too often the church releases it’s faith in favor of doubt and fear. This can turn us to superstitions that leave us unprotected from the armies of darkness. The first slip into sin leads to an open season of failure, as demonic thinking takes over.
And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it. And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them? Exodus 32:19-21
As the tablets are broken, so the Law is broken for the first time. Man has proven that even the perfect law of God can not be obeyed even before it is issued for the first time. Man is not able to produce good works in his weak flesh. Moses asks Aaron why he brought sin on the people.
And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. 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. Exodus 32:22-23
Now, as Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent, Aaron blames the people. The people do not lead a leader, they follow him. A leader helps the people, and covers their sins, he doesn’t blame them. He accepts responsibility for what happens on his watch. Aaron was not acting as a real leader, and went on to compound this with a lie.
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. Exodus 32:24
But previously it was written that Aaron had sculptured the calf himself:
And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. 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. Exodus 32:3-4
Aaron can not take responsibility for his own actions, even if he has to lie to man and God.
And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:) 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. Exodus 32:25-26
Their nakedness was more than an issue of bare skin here. They were spiritually naked while surrounded by hostile enemy forces. There were spiritual and military enemies prepared to attack a camp that was separated from the armor of faith. We can not stand against the enemy when we are living in sin which is weakness. Compromise is weak, and only obedience to God makes us strong. Strong action was required to purge the evil from the camp.
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. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. Exodus 32:27-28
If the law was harsh, law enforcement was even harsher. The Levites slew friends and neighbors until three thousand had died. The wages of sin is death, and there was no lamb or bull of sacrifice to suffice for this great sin. And God had not spoken yet.
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. And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have 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. Exodus 32:30-32
Moses shows the path of a true leader by volunteering to take the blame, even when he was not party to the sin. He further offers to be blotted out of the book of life in their defense. He would have sacrificed his own eternal reward to deliver them from their sins. But God already knew his character, and had chosen this man as his example.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. 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. And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made. Exodus 32:33-35
This kind of punishment is not exclusive to the Old Testament. After the law we still see God executing liars when it threatens the camp. We are ordered to force people out of fellowship if they claim to be Christians while living in gross sin. We are told not even to be seen eating with a false Christian who is having sex outside of marriage.
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 1 Corinthians 5:11
If these are not calling themselves Christians, we may be with them to draw them to Christ. But those who teach sin in the church are like an injury that spreads infection. It (the person, like an infected body part) must be cut off to save the life of the body; Even if they seem like your own right hand.
Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. Matthew 18:8
God himself slew some who lied in the book of Acts:
But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. Acts 5:1-5
Clearly the fear of God should be with us even in this modern age. Do we still possess the beginning of wisdom (the fear of God) in this age? Many church leaders allow fornicators in the body, and do not watch to see if they are boasting of this liberty to the church. Many claim to believe, but indulge in illegal drug use and drunkenness. Some covet, worship created things, bring accusations, or force their agenda on others. Are we addicted to desires more than to our God? We can all be found naked in the land of our enemies. We have one God, one righteousness, one provider. Fear is the concession of defeat by Satan. Faith is the single minded confidence in the substance of the God who delivers us. Faith will manifest as obedience to his Holy Word.
Athletes have probably seen those who worship the body, a creation of God. Have we shamed ourselves with wine or lust? Do we seek a victory in competition by illegal drug use or cheating? Are students accepting the idea that cheating on tests is OK? Do we take our paycheck without reporting taxes? Do we talk against others when they are not present? We can find obedience by learning what the word requires of us.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15