Exodus Devotional | Fall and Forgiveness, Day 4: The Fullness of God’s Glory
The Book of Exodus
The Greatness of God to His People in Need
Fall and Forgiveness, Day 4
“And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you. But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.” - (Exodus 32:7-14)
Ever had someone who stepped in for you and pleaded your case, especially when you were the bad actor? I’m not talking about someone who stands up for you when you’re innocent. I mean someone who knows that you were wrong and isn’t just ready to give you a second chance, but ready to ask everyone else to, as well.
We’ve spent the last two days observing what Moses’ people have been doing while he’s been gone. God calls them “your people.” That’s an odd change in God’s language. So far, they’ve been “my” people--God’s people. Well, they’re certainly not acting like it now. They’ve broken God’s covenant. They don’t want God anymore. They want a god like the ones the Egyptians worshipped (hence, the golden cow baby).
God tells Moses to leave him alone. Go away, perhaps down a side route from the mountain. Stay away from the camp. I’m going to destroy these people and start over with you. I’ll do with you what I did with Abraham. You and your wife will be the start of a new people of God.
Moses pleads with the Lord. He doesn’t point out the potential hidden within the Israelites. He doesn’t point out their strengths. He doesn’t try to get God to see the positive. What does he do? He asks God for forgiveness for the people, pointing to the glory of God before the whole world for having mercy. He relies on the covenant God made with Abraham--one in which God promises to uphold the promise sacrificially, even if Abraham fails.
And God relents from the disaster.
Do you know what’s playing out here? Whether Moses knows it or not, the heart he has and the plea he makes before the Lord is a foreshadowing of Jesus’ work on our behalf. Romans 8 says that Jesus is, even now, interceding for us before the Father. Jesus is praying for us! His perfect life, sacrificial death, and triumphant resurrection are what he points to--the glory of God in mercy.
1 Peter 2:9-10 is a clear statement of what God is doing here on the mountain and what he does in Jesus:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
The fullness of God’s glory isn’t revealed in his mighty acts over Egypt, the splitting of a sea, or in sending bread from Heaven. No. The pinnacle of God’s glory is the excellency of a God who calls people out of darkness and into the light of salvation and holiness. What Jesus points to (and what Moses wants to point to!) are a people who weren’t God’s people, not having received mercy...who now are God’s people because they have received God’s mercy!
What Moses can’t do is step in and serve as the sacrifice for sin that God’s people need--but Jesus does exactly that. He stands in the gap, pleads our case, and satisfies justice for our sin so we can become and stay God’s people.
In prayer today, thank the Lord Jesus for, not just having mercy on you, but for saying and doing everything it took--even to his death--to secure that mercy. Pray, knowing that you are part of God’s people, not because of your quality, but Jesus’.
Who do you need to serve, like Moses served his people? Who ought you be praying for, interceding on their behalf? Who do you know who has yet to receive God’s mercy? Step up for them. Speak up for them. Pray to the Lord and ask him to extend his covenant promise to them, as well. Pray for the lost--and I urge you, do it specifically. Call them by name.