Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Exodus 32:32

The people built a golden calf and worshiped it. God was angry. He threatened to wipe 'em out. This incited Moses to claim the promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob -- promises of mercy and grace to all nations, sent through the sons/Son of the patriarchs.

So after that interchange, Moses goes down the mountain. He sees what the people are doing. And when Moses sees, he gets as ticked as God was. Then comes the punishment: "drink your god" and all the killing and bloodshed. Then Moses says he'll go back up the mountain: "Perhaps I can make atonement for your sin." Like Pastor said during matins this morning, of course Moses can't; he'll learn that.

But this is what happens when he goes back to the top of Sinai to meet with God:
"Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin -- but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written."

That never made sense to me. What good is it going to do the people for God to kill Moses? What good will it do Moses? I always used to think that it was like what Paul said (Romans 9:3) about yearning so much for his people's salvation that he would almost wish that he could trade places with them. Except both Paul and Moses knew that taking God's wrath would not get their people off the hook. And God goes on to explain that punishment will be for the sins you have committed yourself.

So what's the point of Moses' statement in verse 32? Did he not understand that he couldn't take the Israelites' punishment for them? And then today I had a thought.

Maybe Moses is saying, "If you are not a God who forgives, then I really don't want to have anything to do with You. And you might just as well blot me out of Your book right now, because I'm never gonna stay in that book anyway if You are a vengeful God who does not forgive sin."

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