Needed: Perfect Sacrifice
Pray for a God-sized view of how bad sin is, and prepare your heart for a God-sized payment for your sin.
Read Exodus 32:25 - 33:6
25 Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. 26 So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him.
27 Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’” 28 The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. 29 Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.”
30 The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”
31 So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”
33 The Lord replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. 34 Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.”
35 And the Lord struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.
33 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ 2 I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 3 Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.”
4 When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments. 5 For the Lord had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.’” 6 So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhen we see sin through God’s eyes we see why the wages of sin is death.
The wages of the sin of the people had to be death. We see this vividly in 32:25–29,35. That day three thousand were killed by the sword and by the plague. Another consequence was humiliation for the people, as well as distance between them and God (33:1–6).
Focus your heart on 32:30–34. Here Moses expressed his desire to make atonement for their sin. He was willing to pay the penalty of death and separation from God for the people. Surely God would be satisfied with such a selfless and sacrificial gesture?
Actually, no, God wouldn’t. Sinners cannot pay for the sins of other sinners. Moses was himself a sinner (cf. Num. 20:1–13). For this kind of sacrifice to make atonement for sinful people it would take a spotless sacrifice, a perfect one who would not be dying for his own sin.
“We all, like sheep, have gone astray” (Isa. 53:6). We deserve humiliation, death and separation from God. But this whole section points us forward to that coming selfless One who would be humiliated, die our death and be separated from his Father, all so that our sin could be fully atoned for.
Write down why you are thankful for God’s forgiveness and Jesus’ sacrifice. Keep the paper in a place where you can see it often.
O God, “My sin, not in part but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord… O my soul!” (Horatio G. Spafford, 1828–1888).
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