Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to the record of a very particular matter, a record that reveals that Moses was a companion of God (32:30—33:23).
The making of the golden calf was a severe blow to both God and Moses. Before the calf was made, everything was going smoothly. Moses was on the mountaintop with the Lord, and the Lord was revealing to him the design of the tabernacle and its furniture and utensils. No doubt, God and Moses were very happy. But at the end of the forty days Moses spent on the mountain with God, the children of Israel did evil in making a golden calf and worshipping it. By doing that, they broke the first four of the Ten Commandments.
The worship of the golden calf caused a serious problem. What should God do? Should He give up the children of Israel? Should He forsake His purpose in bringing them out of Egypt? Surely God could not do this. If you had brought more than two million people out of Egypt, not according to your mood, but according to your promise, would you have been able to give them up? Certainly not. God delivered the children of Israel in order to fulfill His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God brought the people out of Egypt, led them through the wilderness, and brought them to Mount Sinai, where He gave them training. Suddenly, as a great surprise, the children of Israel did evil by worshipping the golden calf What the children of Israel did caused God a big problem. What should He do? In principle, we may have the assurance that God would not give up His people or abandon His project with them. On the contrary, He would still go on with them. But how could He go on with the children of Israel in such a situation?
The problem God faced with His people can be compared to certain problems between husband and wife or between parents and children. Although a wife may cause her husband a serious problem, and although the children may cause their parents serious problems, the husband cannot give up the wife, and the parents cannot give up their children. There must be a way for the husband and wife and the parents and children to go on together. Likewise, it was necessary for God to find a way to go on with His people. He needed a way out of the problem that had arisen regarding them.
God’s way out was through Moses as the middleman, the mediator. In order to be a middleman, a mediator, between God and the children of Israel, it was necessary for Moses to be intimately involved with both parties. Moses was uniquely qualified to be the mediator. He had had nothing to do with the worship of the golden calf. He had been kept from that evil thing and was preserved in the presence of God. Therefore, he was the only one among God’s people who was clean. Furthermore, Moses was very close to God. As we shall see, the way Moses expressed his petition to God indicates that his relationship with God was an intimate one.
I believe that, deep in His heart, God expected Moses to come in as the mediator between Him and the people. It was God’s desire that Moses would give Him a way out of the problem. Without a middleman who could speak to God intimately, God would not have had a solution to His problem. No doubt, God wanted to be appeased. In 32:30 Moses indicated that propitiation was necessary: “And it came about on the next day that Moses said to the people, You have sinned a great sin. And now I will go up to Jehovah; perhaps I can make propitiation for your sin.”
The offense caused by the children of Israel was extremely serious. What they did was inexcusable. They did not merely do something wrong; they made an idol and worshipped it as if it were God. They used the name of the Lord in vain. In so doing, they offended God to the uttermost, and it was as if they left no ground for Him to forgive them. It seemed that there was no possibility for God to come in to forgive this offense or to say anything to the people. Apparently, the only thing He could do was destroy the children of Israel there in the wilderness. Therefore, there was the need of a middleman, a mediator. How good that Moses was there to be the mediator between God and the children of Israel!
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