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32:4 The human desire to believe in a god rather than a man is demonstrated in Israel’s attitude to Moses. They complained about “this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt”; and therefore made the golden calf, proclaiming: “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (Ex. 32:1,4). Note in passing how they created one calf, but worshipped it as gods plural. They committed the trinity fallacy of many centuries later. They couldn’t handle a saviour who was human, like them, and so they decided that a god had been their saviour, who existed as a plurality, gods, within a unity, i.e. the golden calf.

 

32:9 Pharaoh was condemned and Egypt overthrown because of his hard heart- but the very word is used to describe the hardness of Israel's heart at the time (Ex. 32:9; 33:3-5; 34:9). Israel were really no better than Egypt- just as Egypt was plagued "so that they could not drink the water" (Ex. 7:24), so we find Israel in the same situation right after leaving Egypt (Ex. 15:23). As the Egyptians were stripped of their jewellery, so Israel stripped themselves of it before the golden calf (Ex. 12:36; 33:6).

32:10 Note how God’s anger “waxed hot” and so did that of Moses. But Moses asks God not to wax hot in anger (Ex. 32:10,11,19). What are we to make of this? Surely, positively, Moses was totally in tune with the feelings of God. And yet he does himself what he asks God not to do. What score would we give Moses for this?


32:11 See on Ex. 34:9; 33:1.

32:12 Why should the Egyptians speak- Moses seems to have shared the primitive idea that a god rose or fell according to the fortunes of his worshippers, when he asks God to not cut off Israel in case the nations mock Yahweh. He could have responded that this was far too primitive and limited a view. But no, He apparently listens to Moses and goes along with his request!

32:14 Due to Moses’ prayer, “the Lord repented of the evil which he had said he would do unto his people” (Ex. 32:14 RV). Yet these are the very words of Jer. 18:8- if a nation repents, then God will repent. But in this case, God accepted the singular prayer of Moses.


32:17,18 is an example of Joshua’s genuine naievity- thinking that Israel were far stronger than they were. He mistook the sound of their idolatrous partying for the sound of a battle; and Moses almost rebukes him for his naievity. He allowed the leaders of Israel to lead him into wrong decisions about the initial attack on Ai, and also into being deceived by the Gibeonites. And yet as a younger man, he had boldly stood up to the peer pressure of the princes of Israel in faithfully declaring that Israel could and should go up into Canaan; when the other princes must have put huge pressure upon him to agree with them. He is described as maintaining “another spirit” to theirs (Num. 14:24). The resolution of youth seems to have been somewhat lost as he grew older.
32:32 It is simply fantastic that Moses could love those people so intensely, despite their aggression and indifference towards him. He was prepared to give his place in the Kingdom so that they might enter; he prayed God to accept his offer. He knew that atonement could only be by sacrifice of blood (Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:22; and see the similarity with Phinehas making an atonement for Israel’s forgiveness through the slaying of Zimri and Cozbi in Num. 25:8,13); and yet he climbed the Mount with the intent of making atonement himself for Israel's sin (Ex. 32:30); he intended to give his life for them. And he didn't make such a promise in hot blood, as some men might. He made the statement, and then made the long climb to the top of the mount. And during that climb, it seems he came to an even higher spiritual level; he was prepared not only to offer his physical life, but also his place in the Kingdom (Ex. 32:32 cp. Ez. 13:9; Dan. 12:2; Lk. 10:20; Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 20:12). Now although hopefully we are not rejecting Christ as they did, the fact still stands that the love of Moses for Israel typifies the love of Christ towards us. The degree, the extent of Moses' love, is but a dim foretaste of the degree of the love of Christ for us. Now in this is something wonderful, something we really need to go away and meditate about. And the wonder of it all is that Israel did not realize the extent of Moses love at the time. At the end of his life he recounts how God has threatened to destroy the people, and then “I turned and came down from the mount” (Dt. 9:15). He doesn’t record his 40 days of pleading with the Father, and how he turned down the offer of having himself made into a great nation. In this we see tremendous spiritual culture, pointing forward to the Lord’s own self-perception of His sacrifice.  


32:30-32- see on Rom. 9:3; Dt. 1:37.


Moses is called up into Sinai and speaks with God. While there, Israel turn away from God, and God wants to make Moses' family His people and reject Israel. But Moses argues with God against this, again showing his humility and his appreciation of God manifestation in Israel, and his earnest desire that God would save Israel. "He said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath". This was only months after his weak faith and reluctance to lead Israel out of Egypt. He says that he will "go up (and) make an atonement" (Ex. 32:30). And yet he knew the principle that atonement was impossible without shedding blood. Yet he goes further than that: "Blot me, I pray thee (he really wanted to do this) out of thy book" (Ex. 32:32)- i.e. the book of salvation (Ez. 13:9; Dan. 12:2; Lk. 10:20; Rev. 20:12). Moses is willing to give his physical life and also his eternal salvation so that Israel can enter the land. Surely he reached matchless heights of selflessness. And he begged Yahweh to accept this for 40 days and nights, fasting without food or water (Dt. 9:17; 10:10). It wasn’t just a once off, emotional outburst of a moment.


Blot me- To be blotted out of the book God had written may have been understood by Moses as asking for him to be excluded from an inheritance in the promised land; for later, a ‘book’ was written describing the various portions (Josh. 18:9). The connection is made explicit in Ez. 13:9: “…neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel”. To be blotted out of the book meant to not enter the land (surely Ezekiel is alluding to Moses’ experience). If Israel were to be blotted out there and then in the wilderness, then Moses wanted to share this experience. God had just spoken of ‘blotting out’ Israel from before Him (Dt. 9:14), and making a nation of Moses; but now Moses is asking to share in their condemnation rather than experience salvation without them. This was the extent of his devotion. On the last day of his life, Moses reeled off the great speech of Deuteronomy, knowing full well that he was to die without entering the land. In Dt. 9:18 he says that his prayer of Ex. 32:32 was heard- in that he was not going to enter the land, but they would. Hence his urging of them to go ahead and enter the land- to experience what his self-sacrifice had enabled. In this we see the economy of God, and how He works even through sin. On account of Moses’ temporary rashness of speech, he was excluded; Moses didn't enter the land. And yet by this, his prayer was heard. He was temporarily blotted out of the book, so that they might enter the land. Moses’ fleeting requests to enter the land must be read as a flagging from the height of devotion he reached, rather like the Lord’s request to escape the cross in Gethsemane. But ultimately he did what he intended- he gave his place in the Kingdom / land so that they might enter [although of course he will be in the future Kingdom]. This is why Moses stresses on the last day of his life that he wouldn’t enter the land for Israel’s sake (Dt. 1:37; 3:26; 4:21). He saw that his sin had been worked through, and the essential reason for him not entering was because of the offer he had made. It “went ill with him for their sakes” (Ps. 106:32).   In all this, Moses was typifying the death of the Lord. Is. 53:8 describes His cross as being “cut off [Strong: ‘excluded’] from the land of the living” (s.w. ‘the congregation’- of Israel), for the transgression of His people. This is undoubtedly reference to the self-sacrificial exclusion of Moses from the land, that Israel might enter. The Lord died the death of a sinner, He chose like Moses to suffer affliction with us, that we might be saved. The intense prayer of Moses for Israel’s salvation inspired David in prayer (Ps. 25:11 = Ex. 32:30,31). See on 2 Tim. 2:24,25.


32:34 Ex. 33:11,12 show Moses talking to the LORD "face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend"- i. e. in a relaxed, friendly way. Thus the identity of the 'LORD' is clearly an Angel. This Angel says in v. 20 that  His face cannot be seen by any man, but His back parts may be seen by Moses. The fact He could be seen at all shows He was not God Himself.  Perhaps we are hearing another Angel speak, more mighty than the one with whom Moses spoke face to face. Or the Angel with whom Moses spoke started to manifest God to a different degree. The 'LORD'- the Angel- then says, 33:14, "My presence shall go with thee". This "presence" was another Angel, as 32:34 makes clear: "behold, Mine Angel shall go before thee". This would suggest there were two Angels involved.