On the Lord’s Side?
With a reverent and worshipful attitude, thank God now for the privilege of drawing near to him.
Read EXODUS 32:25-33:6
 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.  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.  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.'”  The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died.  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.”  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.”  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.  But now, please forgive their sin-but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”  The LORD replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.  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.”  And the LORD struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.  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.’  I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.  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.”  When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments.  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.'”  So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat do you learn here about the seriousness of sin?
In today’s western world, the image of Moses expressing his violent anger and outrage at the ungodly behavior of his people is deeply unsettling. However, it demonstrates that God’s holiness and supremacy is never to be treated lightly. As Christians we do well to listen to the warning in Paul’s words: “Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?” (see Rom. 6:1).
Here, the consequence of sin is death. Moses can only plead, without certainty, for atonement for the Israelites (30). For us, Christ has taken the punishment—and it’s certain that his work is done (Heb. 10:12). Still, we also see here glimmers of hope and God’s grace (34). And people were given the opportunity of standing apart for God before the awful judgment brought by Moses (26).
It’s not surprising that the Israelites were left in mourning (4). However, their repentance isn’t obvious. It’s more that they were troubled by the absence of God’s presence. Yet they do begin to obey once again—taking off the “ornaments” which later would indeed be offered for the worship of God (ch. 35).
How do you keep alert to the presence of sin in your life? How will you stand for Christ today?
Lord, give me a spirit that is alert to my sin and courage to stand firm for You, I pray.
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