Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
I believe that we all are familiar with the story in Exodus concerning the breaking of the law. In this message we shall seek to find out the principles implied in this story. In the past we have pointed out that in studying the Bible, a basic need is to touch the spirit of the writer expressed in his writing. Now I would add that it is also important to discover the principles implied in any portion of the Word. In the account in Exodus regarding the making of the golden calf there are a number of basic principles. Our main concern in this message will be to see the principles related to worshipping the golden calf.
After the decree of the law and before the breaking of it, God called Moses to His mount to give him the tablets of the law (24:12). The Lord called Moses to Mount Sinai first in Exodus 19:20. That was the time the Lord gave Moses the law of the Ten Commandments with all the subordinate ordinances. Then, according to 24:12, the Lord called Moses to go to the mountain again. The Lord wanted to give him the tablets of the law. The law had been decreed, but the tablets of the Ten Commandments had not yet been given to Moses. The tablets of the law were given to Moses in 31:18: “And He gave to Moses, when He finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.”
Both 24:12 and 31:18 refer to the giving of the tablets of the law. But between these verses is a long insertion of seven chapters. This indicates that after the Lord called Moses to the mountain for the purpose of giving him the tablets of the law, He first spoke to him about other things. In chapters twenty-five through thirty-one the Lord revealed to Moses the design of the tabernacle and its furniture, and He spoke to him concerning matters related to the priesthood. We have seen that the tabernacle and the priesthood typify Christ. The tabernacle with its furniture typifies Christ, and the priesthood with the garments and the priestly food are also detailed types of Christ. If we would know Christ, we need to study chapters twenty-five through thirty-one of Exodus. God’s intention in calling Moses to the mountain was to give him the tablets of the law. But before giving Moses these tablets, God first gave him the design of the tabernacle and instructions concerning the priesthood. Only then did the Lord give Moses the tablets.
The fact that God showed Moses the tabernacle with its furniture and the priesthood before giving him the tablets of the law indicates that while God was giving the law, He knew that man could not keep it. This also indicates that God had prepared the way of grace for man to contact Him and enjoy Him. The way of grace is Christ typified by the tabernacle and the priesthood. God prepared Christ as the way of grace for man to contact God and enjoy Him. While God was giving the law, He knew that man would not be able to keep it; therefore, He prepared this way of grace. Christ is our tabernacle, the offerings, and all the aspects of the priesthood. The writings of John reveal that Christ is the fulfillment of the tabernacle and the offerings.
After showing Moses the tabernacle and the priesthood, God gave him the two tablets of the law. God could do this in peace, even though He knew that the law would be broken. God was not troubled by this, because, before the law was broken, God had already prepared the way of grace so that man would be able to contact God and enjoy Him. It was not God’s intention, therefore, to trust in the law; His trust was in Christ as the prepared way of grace. Even though God was giving the law, He did not have any trust in the law. God’s trust was, and still is, absolutely in His Christ as the tabernacle and the priesthood.
I believe that Moses was happy to have the tablets of the law and that he put his trust in them. As he was coming down the mountain, he may have said to himself, “Oh, I have two stone tablets in my hands! On these tablets are words written by the finger of God.” No doubt, Moses treasured these tablets containing the law engraved in stone by God Himself.
Moses was on the mountain with God for a period of forty days. In the Bible forty is a number of testing and trial. For example, the Lord Jesus fasted in the wilderness for forty days. It is doubtful that the golden calf was made earlier than Moses’ thirty-sixth day on the mountain. It may have been made during the last two or three days, when the people could no longer bear to wait for Moses to come back. Some of them may have said, “The one whom we respected and who brought us out of Egypt and led us to this place has been gone for more than five weeks. He went up the mountain, and we do not know what has happened to him. We cannot wait any longer.” It may have been that at the very time God was giving the tablets to Moses, to the mediator, the people at the foot of the mountain were making the golden calf.
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