Skip to content


Sermon audio

"Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" (Exodus 3:11)

Here is Moses full of self-doubt.  So what does Moses need?  Ask anyone today and they’ll tell you: the solution to self-doubt is self-confidence.  That’s the modern cure-all for whatever ails you.  Have more confidence in yourself.

That’s what the world says.  What does the LORD say?

Verse 12: I will be with you

Do you see what the LORD is doing?  Not trying to instill self-confidence, but God-confidence.  “I will be with you.”  The LORD doesn’t say “Moses, don’t do yourself down.  You were such a beautiful baby, and a powerful prince, and you’re in my top three all-time shepherds.  I think you’ve got what it takes.”

The LORD doesn’t turn Moses’ eyes back on himself.

Do you ever do that when someone’s full of self-doubt?  We often say, “Have more confidence in yourself, you’re so talented, you’re brilliant…”   But if someone’s fishing for compliments, how many compliments are enough?  The WORLD is not enough to fill our need for affirmation.  Just speaking for myself: the WORLD could not satisfy my black hole of self-obsession.  If you get me started, I’ll never be satisfied.

Which is why God does something very different.  He fights self-doubt with GOD-confidence.  Essentially the LORD says, “Who are you??  Who are you??  That’s not the point Moses.  I will be with you.”

There used to be a saying in tennis that the greatest doubles team imaginable was John McEnroe and anyone.  John McEnroe and anyone could win Wimbledon.

Well imagine if you were that anyone.  Imagine if you were John McEnroe’s partner going into the Wimbledon final and you spent the whole pre-match press-conference saying “Who am I to win a tennis match?  Who am I to win Wimbledon?  I am not a brilliant tennis player!!”

What would John McEnroe say?  Apart from ‘You cannot be serious?’  He’d say, “I will be with you.  I will be with you.  Enough about yourself, really it’s irrelevant.”...

...In a deep sense Moses is going to be just like that staff in his hand.  The staff by itself is nothing.  We call it a staff, that’s just fancy name for a stick.  But through that stick, miracles would be wrought.  Through that stick the plagues would fall.  Through that stick the Red Sea would be divided.  By that stick the Rock would be struck and the waters would come out.  Why, because it’s such a great stick?  Because the qualities inherent in the stick can call forth the powers of heaven??  No it’s nothing to do with the stick and everything to do with the eternal I AM who uses the stick.

He can use a stick to unleash the powers of heaven, He can use an octogenarian shepherd to defeat the most powerful man in the world.  Later in the bible He uses a bunch of fishermen to turn the world upside down.  Because where does the great I AM really show His power?  On the cross.  (John 8:28)  The great I AM bleeds and dies on a rugged wooden cross, and that’s the power that saves the world.  Can He deal with weakness?  Can He use weakness?  That’s His speciality.  2 Corinthians 12 verse 9, the Lord says to a weakened Paul, “My power is made perfect in weakness."

Full script below

...continue reading "Answering self-doubt – Exodus 4-7 sermon"

Exodus 1-3

A non-Christian friend asks you how you square belief in God with the existence of suffering.  What do you say?

Break into four groups.  One group should take each of the following passages:

Exodus 1:1-14
Exodus 1:15-22
Exodus 2:1-10
Exodus 2:11-25

Answer these questions and then feed them back:

What’s going on?

How is the suffering described?

How does God redeem the suffering?


By the time we get to chapter 3, the people have been groaning for 400 years (Genesis 15:13) and Moses is 80 years old (Exodus 7:7), what does this teach us about how God works His salvation?

God is seldom mentioned in chapters 1 and 2, would it be fair to describe Him as ‘silent’ or ‘absent’ at this time?

Notice the verbs used of God in v24-25.  What are they?  What do they tell us about God’s relationship to His suffering people?


In chapter 3, the God who may have seemed very distant shows up in a powerful way.

Read Exodus 3:1-22

What do you think the burning bush symbolizes?
Think of the significance of plants (e.g. the vine) and of fire and furnaces (e.g. Deut 4:20).  Perhaps read Psalm 80 to see how Israel, the vine, suffering, fire and the Son of God relate.

“Him who dwells in the bush” is a title for the LORD (Deuteronomy 33:16).  What are the other titles for this Person? (v2,4,6,14)   What do each of these titles tell us?

What does it tell us that 'The Angel' is found in the midst of the bush in flames of fire?

Note the verbs again in verses 7-9 and 16-17: How does the LORD relate to the suffering of His people?

How does the great I AM use His power in this chapter?

We have seen in chapters 1 and 2 how the LORD redeems/works-through/transforms the suffering of the people.  In what ways do we see that here?



Compare this rescue to the great I AM’s rescue in the New Testament.  What are the similarities?

What do we learn about the Lord Jesus and His Father from these chapters?

What do we learn about God and suffering?


All the Johns agree:

But let us inquire who this Angel was? since soon afterwards he not only calls himself Jehovah, but claims the glory of the eternal and only God. Now, although this is an allowable manner of speaking, because the angels transfer to themselves the person and titles of God, when they are performing the commissions entrusted to them by him; and although it is plain from many passages, and especially from the first chapter of Zechariah, that there is one head and chief of the angels who commands the others, the ancient teachers of the Church have rightly understood that the Eternal Son of God is so called in respect to his office as Mediator, which he figuratively bore from the beginning, although he really took it upon him only at his Incarnation. And Paul sufficiently expounds this mystery to us, when he plainly asserts that Christ was the leader of his people in the Desert. (1 Corinthians 10:4.) Therefore, although at that time, properly speaking, he was not yet the messenger of his Father, still his predestinated appointment to the office even then had this effect, that he manifested himself to the patriarchs, and was known in this character. Nor, indeed, had the saints ever any communication with God except through the promised Mediator. It is not then to be wondered at, if the Eternal Word of God, of one Godhead and essence with the Father, assumed the name of “the Angel” on the ground of his future mission.

He is expressly called an “Angel” Exod. 3:2 – namely, the Angel of the covenant, the great Angel of the presence of God, in whom was the name and nature of God. And He thus appeared that the Church might know and consider who it was that was to work out their spiritual and eternal salvation, whereof that deliverance which then He would effect was a type and pledge.  Aben Ezra would have the Angel mentioned verse 2, to be another from him who is called “God,” v 6: but the text will not give countenance to any such distinction, but speaks of one and the same person throughout without any alteration; and this was no other but the Son of God.

This redemption was by Jesus Christ, as is evident from this, that it was wrought by him that appeared to Moses in the bush; for that was the person that sent Moses to redeem the people.  But that was Christ, as is evident, because he is called 'the angel of the LORD' (Exodus 3:2).

Given such unanimity among our reformed forebears (who themselves appealed to 'the ancient teachers of the Church') our modern reluctance to identify Him who dwells in the bush is deeply concerning.  Martin Downes puts it well in a recent post:

It is somewhat ironic that the championing of progressive revelation has gone hand in hand with a diminished confidence in the revelation of Christ in the Old Testament.  Historically it is as if the church has regressed and not progressed in her confidence that it was "Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt" (Jude 5, ESV).

Amen!  Read his whole post here.

My sermon on Exodus 1-3 is here.


"Here is a bush that is burning.  Burning, but not consumed.  And, wonder of wonders, the Angel of the LORD, has come down INTO the bush - into the furnace of His people's affliction.

...That has ALWAYS been His nature.  It has always been His nature to COME DOWN, to enter in, to suffer alongside, to suffer at our Head, and to rescue!

Sermon audio

Powerpoint slides

Text below... ...continue reading "Exodus 1-3 sermon"

Previously I've written an overview of Exodus.

This is an introduction from another angle:

Introduction to Exodus

Exodus is not the beginning.  Exodus continues the story of God’s people.

In the beginning, the promise was given to humanity that the Offspring of the woman would crush Satan’s head, even though His own heel would be struck (Genesis 3:15).  This was the first prophesy of the sufferings and glory of the coming Messiah (1 Peter 1:10-11).  Though it would cause Him to suffer, the Offspring would defeat the powers that Adam and Eve had unleashed on the world.

From that point onwards, offspring in general became a consuming passion for the people of God.  This is because the Offspring in particular – Christ – is our one true hope (cf Galatians 3:16,29).

In Genesis 12, Abraham is told that the Offspring will come through him (Genesis 12:7; cf Galatians 3:16).  Thus Abraham’s many offspring would become the nation of Israel through whom the Offspring (the Messiah) would come. The people of the Messiah would therefore be the conduit for all God’s blessings on the world:

2 "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."  (Genesis 12:2-3)

In Genesis 15 the Word of the LORD repeats the promises, reassuring Abraham that  his childlessness will not be a problem (Genesis 15:1-6).  His offspring would be innumerable.  But just as the singular Offspring (Christ) would suffer and then be glorified, so the plural offspring (Abraham’s descendants) would suffer and be glorified.  Abraham is told:

13 "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and ill-treated four hundred years. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterwards they will come out with great possessions.”  (Genesis 15:13-14)

The story of Exodus is the fulfilment of these verses.  It’s the story of the offspring of Abraham, called up out of Egypt – the land of darkness and slavery – brought through curses and judgements, through wilderness and trial, towards the land of blessings and freedom.

Exodus therefore works on many levels.

It is a grand prophesy of the work of the Offspring, Christ.  Jesus is the true Son called up out of Egypt (Matt 2:15) who accomplishes His own exodus/departure by undergoing the judgement of the cross (Luke 9:31, ‘exodus’ and ‘departure’ are the same word).  Reading Exodus will show us a vivid pattern for Christ’s own sufferings and glory.

Exodus is also a presentation of the sufferings and glories of God’s people in every age.   For those who trust in the Messiah – whether in Old or New Testament times – the exodus is a paradigmatic experience.  Paul underlines this in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, and insists that the events of the exodus “happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us.” (v11)  We too have had an Exodus experience – once we were in the darkness and slavery of sin but have been brought out through the bloody redemption of the LORD Jesus.  Now we experience wilderness times of hardship and testing before we enter the promised land of His presence.  Exodus will teach us all about the Christian life.

But if the Exodus experience defines the people of God, it’s even more true to say that the Exodus experience defines the God of the people.  From this event onwards, God would always be known as “the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt.”  (e.g. Exodus 20:2; Leviticus 11:45; Judges 2:1).  In Exodus we will see the promise-keeping, compassionate, rescuing, judging, providing, incomparable I AM who saves His people with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.

8 He saved them for His Name's sake, to make His mighty power known. 9 He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up; He led them through the depths as through a desert. 10 He saved them from the hand of the foe; from the hand of the enemy He redeemed them. 11 The waters covered their adversaries; not one of them survived. 12 Then they believed His promises and sang His praise.  (Psalm 106:8-12)

Our experience of Exodus should be the same – to believe His promises and sing His praise!



I'm a post shy of 40 but life's too short!

I've loved reading all the different contributions - 14 different authors.  I've learned loads.  Thanks

UPDATEDev's collected them all into a pdf here - thanks Dev!

Exodus Overview

Exodus 1 - Jacky Lam

Exodus 2

Exodus 3 - Tom Rout

Exodus 4:1-11 - Paul Blackham

Exodus 4:18-31

Exodus 5:1-21

Exodus 5:22-6:27

Exodus 6:28-7:13

Plagues Overview - Paul Blackham

Exodus 7:14-8:15 - Paul Huxley

Plagues: The Story So Far - Nick Martin-Smith

Exodus 9:8-35 - Nick Martin-Smith

Exodus 10

Exodus 11 - Paul Huxley

Exodus 12:1-30 - Luke Ijaz

Exodus 12:31-51 - Luke Ijaz

Exodus 13:1-16 - Dev Menon

Exodus 13:17-14:31 - Rich Owen

Exodus 15:1-21 - Rich Owen

Exodus 15:22-16:36 - Tim Vasby-Burnie

Exodus 17

Exodus 18 - Dave Bish

Exodus 19

Exodus 20:1-2 - Dev Menon

Exodus 20 - The Ten Commandments

Exodus 20:22-21:36

Exodus 22:1-23:9

Exodus 23:10-32 - Jacky Lam

Exodus 24

Tabernacle - an introduction

Tabernacle Furniture - Paul Hawkins

Bezalel and Oholiab - Dave Kirkman

The Priests 1 - Dave Kirkman

The Priests 2 - Rich Owen

Exodus 32

Exodus 33

Exodus 34 - Tom Loh

Exodus 40


Read Exodus 40

In verses 1-33, Moses' name is mentioned 12 times.  He is emphatically the one who completes the tabernacle: "Moses finished the work." (v33)  As far as the shadows of the old covenant go - Moses is the man.

Yet as the chapter concludes (v34-38), it's clear that Moses cannot even enter into this model of heaven and earth, this dwelling place of the Divine Glory.  The Cloud is too much for him.  This is the Cloud of God's Presence which accompanies the Angel (also known as the Glory) of the LORD (13:21f; 14:19f, 24; 16:10; 19:9, 16; 24:15f, 18; 33:9f; 34:5; 40:34ff).

Previously, Moses had entered into the Cloud of the Divine Glory on a few select occasions (19:20; 24:18; 33:9; 34:5) but only under certain conditions and only when invited.

Yet here verse 35 is clear - Moses cannot enter the tabernacle because the Cloud of Glory is tabernacling there.  In fact the next book of the bible (Leviticus) has to be written to set out how humanly impossible it is for man to dwell with the everlasting burning (Isaiah 33:14).  Men of dust cannot enter the Divine Glory.  The Divine Glory must enter men of dust.

He will tabernacle with Israel in flesh (John 1:14) - in their flesh even.  The Heavenly Man will take the humanity of the man of dust and transform it from within.  In this way the whole world would see His Glory.  And when He is torn down and rebuilt, He will be both a perfected Temple, inviting all nations in and an ascended High Priest, going into the Holy of Holies to carry us on His heart.

He ascends to fill the universe (Eph 4:11).  Now that He's on high, His word flows out, filling the earth with His glory, the nations streaming to the true Temple (Isaiah 2:1-5; Ezekiel 47).

In Exodus, only the High Priest's breastplate was 'Holy to the LORD.' (39:30)  But as the knowledge of the glory of the LORD fills the earth (Hab 2:14), there will be a time when even the most common articles will be 'Holy to the LORD' (Zech 14:20f).  This is the cosmic filling to which this cloud points.

In the meantime, the Israelites (Moses included) can only follow the tabernacling Glory (v36-38).  And only in the shadows of the Levitical law can they enter in vicariously through their high priest.  The law comes through Moses.  He sets up the shadows, he cannot establish the reality.  Grace and truth - hesed we'emet (34:6), the very Name and nature of the living God - comes through the LORD Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)

And so at the end of Exodus we see the designs the LORD has on the whole of creation.  He will fill it in the end.  What a contrast to the book's beginning.

In the beginning we saw an enslaved and oppressed people, helpless and hopeless.  By the end we see these same helpless people laid hold of by a magnificent salvation.  They are freed, enriched, guided, cared for, brought to the Father and established as a kingdom and priests.  All this is through the grace and power of Christ alone and in spite of their own profound wickedness and sin.

So from the slavery and genocide of Egypt the LORD Jesus has created a people headed for the land of milk and honey, carrying with them the blueprint of the Father's own cosmic plans for redemption.  Jude was right in his summary of Exodus:

Jesus saved a people out of Egypt  (Jude 5)


Tom's the acceptable face of the All Souls Langham Place website and studying at a vicar factory in Oxford.  This post is a shaft of reflected glory!

Read Exodus 34

This is the second time Moses has gone up the Mountain of God and spent 40 days and forty nights with the Lord. It is the second time he has received the 10 words of God written on two stone tablets. It is the second time he has made the covenant between God and the people.

Why does it need to be done twice? What was wrong with the first time?

Please indulge me as I endeavour on a some-what allegorical journey.

The two descents of Moses represent the two descents of Christ from heaven.

The first time Christ comes, in the incarnation, he finds the people in faithlessness and sin. They are worshipping created gods [The Satanic Guardian Cherub, Ez 28:14, who has the face of a Bull], and have forgotten the Word of the Lord who gave them life, and birth as a people and nation (cf. John 1:10-11).

On seeing their faithlessness and evil, Christ burns with anger. Like Moses he smashes the covenant between the people and God. No longer can the people dwell with the living God, they must be cut off from his presence and blotted out of the book of life. Yet, moved with compassion and love for his people, Christ offers up himself to be cursed in their stead, “Alas, this people have sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if you will forgive their sin – but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” (Ex 32:32).

Thus, Christ dies, the people are saved from the curse of the Law, and The Golden Calf is destroyed.

We arrive at Exodus 34.

In Exodus 34:2-3, Moses ascends the Mountain of God. This time he is to ascend alone. This corresponds to the ascension of Christ to the throne room of the Father forty days after his resurrection from the dead. He is to come alone, as a representative of the human race, ready to make a new covenant between God and humankind.

When Moses reaches the top of the Mountain, two things happen. There is a great proclamation of the Lord’s greatness and character (Ex 34:6-8), and Moses, seeking acceptance and favour from God, puts in a request.

Likewise, when Christ ascended into heaven and entered through the gates of Zion, he was welcomed by songs of victory and praise, (cf. Ps 24:7-10, Rev 5:6-14). On approaching the throne of Heaven, Christ seeks the favour of his Father, and is warmly granted it. He then puts in a request with the Father, similar to that which Moses made: “O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”

Why does Moses (and later Christ) request that the Lord go in the midst of the people? Two reasons: 1) The people are stiff-necked, and need to be liberated from their sinful hearts, and 2) in order that the people might become the inheritance of God.

I suggest here that this request from Moses corresponds to the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost after Christ ascended to the right-hand of the Father. In the absence of Christ from his people, he does not leave us alone, but gives us another counsellor. The Spirit brings both a softening and renewal of the heart to a “stiff necked” people, and He also possesses the Church to make her co-heirs with Christ, inheritors of all the nations and the New Creation.

In 34:10-16, the Lord promises a marvellous thing. He will drive out the wicked people and nations, and hand over the Promised Land to his people. [Note here, that it is the Lord himself, Christ, who drives out the nations from the Land. In Ex 23, it is the task of the Angel of the Lord to drive out the nations. Thus, Moses perceives no difference between Yahweh and the Angel who bears that same Name.]

This great promise of the Land and the deposit of the Holy Spirit, will surely keep the Church of Christ going as they travel through the wilderness.

Inheriting the Land is underpinned by three festivals (34:18-28, see Jackie Lam on Ex 23), reminding us again, that life in the New Creation is only made possible because of the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world, and the redemption of the First Born.

The chapter ends with the second descent of Moses (Ex 34:29-35). This time he comes in glory. His face is shining as he comes in the likeness of God. Alas, it is still only Moses, and not the triumphant return of Christ in all his splendour at the consummation of all things. So he veils his face as a reminder to the people that these things are still to come and not the reality themselves. The ministry of Moses is still external, written on tablets of stone, and must not be confused with the ministry of the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3 helpfully reminds us of these things. The glory of Moses is coming to an end, and so he veils his face to prevent the Israelites from getting too excited (2 Cor 3:13). Moses shone because he communed with Christ. He saw him face to face, and so became like him (1 John 3:2, 2 Cor 3:18). Like the Moon staring full faced at the Sun, becomes just like him bearing his image, so we too who look to Christ, bear his likeness.

This kind of glory does not come through the law but through the reality of that to which it testifies. In veiling his face, Moses condemns the people, and prevents them from seeing the reality. For “their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away” (2 Cor 3:14).

Moses knew that they needed to turn to Christ for the veil to be removed. As long as they turned to him (Moses and the Law) for their hope, the veil must remain.

Let’s not be like those Israelites who trusted in the shadows rather than the realities, but turn to Christ and eagerly await his second appearing.


The LORD is moving His people on from mount Sinai.  They now have the portable mountain - the tabernacle - and they must press on to the promised land (v1).

But who will go with them?  That's the key question.  And it's one that was actually settled back in chapter 23:

20 "See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. 21 Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. 22 If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. 23 My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land

The Angel would be the One through Whom the Father brings them in.  To have the Angel is to be brought into the land, to have forgiveness and the very gospel character (the Name) of God Most High.  To listen to the Angel is to listen to the Unseen LORD.

In chapter 23 the Father speaks of sending the Son as the way that He draws near and blesses the Israelites.  Now in Exodus 33, He speaks of sending His Son as the way to keep His distance from the Israelites:

2 I will send an angel before you... 3 Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people... 5 You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you.

So which is it?  Does the Father save through the Son because that's how He draws near or is it because that's how He keeps His distance?  Well prior to the sin of chapter 32, the Father described the Angel's mediation in terms of closeness.  Now (v1-6), after the idolatry of chapter 32, the mediation is described as a response to sin.

But from 33:7 onwards we will return to the chapter 23 perspective - i.e. to have the Angel is to have the favour and blessing of God Most High, because the Name of the Unseen LORD is in the Visible LORD.

Verses 7-11 are a parenthesis, describing a common occurence.  Moses used to go and see the LORD face-to-face. This is incredible intimacy: "face to face as a man speaks with his friend." (v11)  Moses chooses to tell us of this regular blessing down at the foot of the mountain so we can contrast it with the events of v12 and following.

On top of the mountain Moses (very forgetfully) asks again who will go with the Israelites.  He's told "My Presence will go with you."  This is literally the word for "face."  Moses has just told us of his face-to-face enjoyment of the LORD in the tent of meeting and now the LORD on the mountain says His "Face" will go with Moses.  The Father is yet again pledging the help of His Son, His Angel, His Face - the LORD Jesus.  When Moses hears the Angel described as the Presence of the Unseen LORD he is satisfied:

"If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here." (v15)

Give me Jesus or give me death!  This is the sentiment of all who truly know the Father's Face.

Moses then asks a question reminiscent of Philip's in John 14:

Show me your glory (v18)

How will God Most High reveal His glory?   Well He will not show His face - for no-one can see Him and live (v20).  The LORD in the tent of meeting can be seen face to face, but the LORD on the mountain is known in a different way.  He is known through His name - the Name that is in His Angel.

It is a Name dripping with compassion and mercy (v19) - a Name that is seen when we look to the concrete and visible saving actions of the Son.

And as we will see in the next chapter, when that Name is pronounced, Moses recognizes immediately that the Name of God Most High is precisely what he has seen in the Visible LORD:

O Lord (Father), please let the Lord (Son) go in the midst of us

To have the Son is to have the Father after all.  Sin is a problem - it does cause estrangement.  There is indeed a sense in which the Father cannot dwell with His people because of their rebellion.  But precisely through the gracious salvation of the Angel, we are not finally estranged from God Most High, but rather brought near.

No-one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.  (1 John 2:23)


It was 3 days from the arrival at Sinai to law-giving. (19:11)

1 day later the blood of the covenant was sprinkled on the people (24:4)

6 days after that Moses enters the glory cloud on top of the mountain (24:16)

For 40 days Moses receives the instructions for the tabernacle (24:18)

So when Moses descends the mountain we have a kind of a Pentecost - a 50th day.

But it's a reverse-Pentecost.  The nations are repulsed (32:25).  3000 people die (v28), cf Acts 2:41).  And all because they didn't wait for the LORD (v1, cf Acts 1:4).

The people have always wanted (and needed) someone to go before them.  The Unseen LORD had promised His Divine Angel to fight at their head (23:20ff).  He was the One who had commissioned Moses (3:2) and brought them out of slavery (14:19) on eagles wings (19:4) to serve God Most High (3:12).  Moses and the elders have seen Him and eaten with Him (24:9ff).  Yet He obviously wasn't moving according to the people's timetable.  So in impatience they settle for counterfeits - a religious substitute for Christ.  (Notice the same sin again in 1 Samuel 8:20 - this time the Israelites seek a political substitute for Christ - one 'to go before them').

In contrast to the free and liberal giving for the tabernacle, Aaron demands offerings for his false gods (v2).  False religion is always compelled, true worship of the LORD is always free.

The plunder from the Egyptians (3:22; 12:36), instead of being pressed into the LORD's service, is made into a golden calf.  But this is idolatry no matter how much the LORD's name is invoked (v5).

Why a calf?  Well Psalm 106:19-20 clarifies that this is the calf of an ox.  Now when you put Ezekiel 1:10 and 10:14 together you see that cherubs are like oxen.  And we all know who the guardian cherub is (Ezekiel 28:14ff).  Here is worship of Satan!  Within a month of being sprinkled by the blood of the covenant and solemnly vowing to uphold it, while Moses is on the brooding fiery mountain with God Most High, here they are worshipping the devil.  Notice how "the LORD" is invoked in their Satan worship - a salutary lesson that not everyone who says "Lord, Lord" is truly serving Him!

These people deserve the burning wrath of the LORD out of the heavens (v10; cf Gen 19:24).  But just as Moses had interceded for wicked Pharaoh (e.g. 8:8) now he intercedes for wicked Israel.  The LORD had called Israel "your people" (v7), Moses responds to the LORD - they are "your people" (v11) and implores the LORD to turn (shub) from wrath and have compassion (naham) (v12).  The LORD does indeed have compassion / is sorry but this is not the end of the matter.

Moses descends the mountain with the same burning anger as the LORD Himself (v19).

Through the priests he executes a judgement on the people - this is the Levites' ordination!  (v29) They have always been blood-thirsty men: "their swords are weapons of violence." (Gen 49:5)  When you came to a Levite to confess your sin, you were coming to a violent man with a sword.  As he plunged that sword into the animal substitute you would be left in no doubt that this blood-shed is precisely what you deserved.

But even after this blood-shed, Moses realises there's still a work of atonement to be performed:

I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin. (v30)

Here's what he offers to the Father:

Blot me out of the book you have written. (v32)

He doesn't offer the blood of goats or bulls, he doesn't offer the blood of the guilty.  He offers his own blood - the blood of the innocent, the blood of a Levite, the blood of the people's ruler.

Would Moses himself be the promised Lamb to be provided on the mountain to make atonement?  Genesis 22:1-14 has been promising just this atonement for centuries - the Lamb on the mountain as a burnt offering.  And Abraham is certainly on Moses' mind (v13).  Would Moses be the One to make atonement?

No.  God Most High declines Moses' offer.  Instead He reminds him of His Angel - the true leader of the people (v34).  The true Warrior and Commander at their head was indeed going before them.  They must continue to wait for Him and to trust in Him.

One day He would descend from the heavenlies, the Divine Angel and Saviour, an Intercessor for the people, a Priest in the order of Melchizedek, the Ruler of rulers and a true Innocent.  He would be handed over to death by Levites, killed by piercings and blotted out of the Father's book.  And right there in bloody sacrifice the true God is on show for the whole world.  Not a golden calf.  More of a bronze serpent.  But this is the real God.  Every other god is a counterfeit.



Twitter widget by Rimon Habib - BuddyPress Expert Developer