Summary: When we come to God we come to Him upon the basis of His overwhelming grace.
The title of this message solicits images in our minds of Jesus on the Cross on a mountain called Calvary and rightfully so because it was there that the fullness of God’s grace and mercy was poured out on mankind through the accomplishment of salvation. This morning, however, I would like to take us back to another mountain. A mountain called Mt. Sinai. A mountain where Moses had an experience with God. A mountain where grace flowed. EXODUS 32:7-14
ISRAEL’S IDOLATRY, GOD’S JUDGMENT and a SWEET DEAL
1. Israel turns to idolatry after Moses’ lengthy stay on Mt. Sinai. They revel and worship this idol as their god, ironically enough, at the same time Moses is receiving the command found in EXODUS 20:4-6. The people are doing exactly what the Lord is forbidding.
2. God is OMNISCIENT so He sees their sin and threatens judgment. God is OMNISCIENT so He sees and knows His people’s wickedness. We are clearly reminded of the fact that GOD DOES NOT TOLERATE, EXCUSE OR “LOOK THE OTHER WAY” WHEN IT COMES TO SIN. He is perfectly holy and just and because He is so sin demands this type of response.
3. God offers to start “fresh” with Moses. Should Moses have taken God up on this offer we would reference the Jewish people as the children of Moses rather than the children of Abraham. They would be known as the Mosesites rather than the Israelites.
While a great deal was offered, Moses refuses the deal to be the one that the Lord “starts new” with. Rather than becoming “the man” he begins to pray. In prayer, Moses appeals to…
• GOD’S FATHERLY AFFECTION. Moses prayed, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people...”? When God informed Moses of the people’s sin He referred to them as Moses’ people. God was reminding Moses that these people, these people who are prone to sin and sinfulness, are his people insofar as that Moses is of them and the same sin that is going on in the camp is possible for even him. Yet in prayer, Moses confesses that these people, these broken and prone to sinfulness people, are His people. He is their Father and it is only by Him and for Him that they even exist. Moses knows that God is a loving, merciful and compassionate Father and he appeals to God’s Fatherly affection for His own in prayer.
• GOD’S GOOD NAME. Secondly, Moses has high regard for the good name of the Lord. As Moses sees it, should the Lord destroy His people now the Egyptians as well as the other nations that knew of God’s great deliverance of His people from Egypt would begin to think that He was unable to finish what He started or that He only had plans of evil for them. They would begin to mock His great name. Moses understood that the name of the Lord is great and should be held in high regard and he makes his case before the Lord on the basis of His good name. Moses had a zeal for God’s glory among the nations!
• GOD’S MERCIFUL COMPASSION. This was how his prayer began, with seeking God’s favor (Exod. 32:11), asking God to show unmerited grace to sinners. The appeal for mercy became even more explicit at the end of verse 12, where Moses asked God to turn away from his wrath. There was nothing wrong with God’s wrath. It was holy, just, and pure, as it always is. And it was an appropriate response to this situation. The Israelites deserved to be punished for their sins, and there was nothing Moses could say to the contrary. There was one thing Moses could do, however, and that was to ask God to turn aside his wrath—in a word, to show mercy.
• GOD’S EVERLASTING COVENANT. Moses saved his best argument for last. His final appeal was based on God’s everlasting covenant: “Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever’ ” (Exod. 32:13). This time Moses actually quoted God, appealing to him on the basis of his own unbreakable promise. Now that’s a good argument!He recalls God’s great promises that He has made to the patriarchs. Promises of good and not harm. Promises of greatness in number and promises of blessing in the land of promise. Moses understands that God is a promise keeper and he makes his case before the Lord on the basis of Him not being like man that He should lie but the everlasting and unchanging promise keeper.