Scripture: The LORD said to Moses, “Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give it.'” Exodus 33:1 ESV
Observation: Having held Aaron accountable for his failed spiritual leadership, Moses, speaking on behalf of the Lord, calls all the Levites who are on the Lord’s side to go and strike down any, including family and friends, who sacrificed to the golden calf (32:26-28) per Yahweh’s earlier command to devote to destruction whoever sacrifices to any god other than the Lord alone (22:20). The next day, Moses returns to the Lord and pleads for Israel’s forgiveness, contending that if Yahweh refuses, then blot out his name from his Creator’s book of life (32:30-33). But Yahweh refuses to accept Moses’ proposed substitutionary atonement (reserved only for Christ). Instead, he instructs Moses to go and lead his people to the Promised Land with the angel of the Lord going before them. Still, consequences remain for some who escaped the sword. So God inflicts Israel with a plague (32:34-35). Once resolved, the Lord then reiterates to Moses to go and lead his people to the Promised Land (above verse).
Takeaway: There are a couple of takeaways. First, God called for the Levites, the spiritual leaders of the people, to go and administer justice to those closest to them (family, neighbors, friends) to set the example that there is no favoritism toward leniency. As spiritual leaders of our families and communities, we must always uphold God’s holiness code without showing partiality to our loved ones. Moreover, when we wink away others’ sins, we only delay their consequences and set them up to encounter more suffering in the long run.
Secondly, once we have addressed our and others’ sins, it’s time to get on with life. There’s no room for wallowing in our failures, for there remains much kingdom work in this age of the New Covenant. So we seek and receive forgiveness and appropriate Christ’s grace to put the past behind us and continue the work of growing his kingdom and glorifying his name.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you are quick to forgive us when we repent. So would you please help us lead ourselves and others well when exposing sin and facing its consequences and thus resist wallowing in our failures, and instead look up and receive your mercy and grace to get on with your kingdom work? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling