Summary: God is angry with the children of Israel, but, as he does several times in this book, Moses pleads with the Lord on behalf of the people.
Maybe you’ve heard the story about a pastor who woke up from his after-dinner nap one late February Sunday in no mood at all to preach in that evening service. When he stepped out onto his porch his desire to preach lessened even more as he felt the nice warm air that had been missing from his life for so long. And as he stood there for a little while he thought his assistant pastor could probably come up with something to preach; maybe he’d act like he was sick and slip out and go play a round of golf. And that’s what he did. After getting the service started he snuck out the back door holding his stomach and faking a good grimace and headed to the golf course. Meanwhile, God and one of His angels were watching this pastor, and the angel was getting a little ancy. “God, what are we going to do? We just can’t let this man who’s supposed to be Your messenger get away with this, can we? Maybe you should send a big thunderstorm and clap him with a bolt of lightning. Or maybe you should just make him have a terrible game.” God just smiled and said, “Watch this.” As the preacher lined up to the first hole, a long par 4 Bro. Condon, he took a few practice swings and then hit that ball so hard and straight that it rolled onto the green and into the cup. A hole in one on a par four! Can you imagine that? That angel could not figure it out. What was God doing? But he kept his mouth shut as the preacher lined up on the second tee. And wouldn’t you know it, another hole in one. This same story happened hole after hole. Finally, when the pastor hit yet another hole in one on the ninth, the angel could not keep quiet any longer. “God, what in the world are you doing? Where’s the punishment in this? You’re giving him the best game of his life.” God just smiled and said, “Who’s he going to tell?”
Turn with me if you would to the book of Exodus. I want to read to you from ch. 33.
Exodus 33:9-17… And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses.
And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door.
And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
And Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.
Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.
And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.
And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.
For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.
And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.
The book of Exodus gives us a miracle-filled story about the long journey of the Hebrew children from the land of Egypt to the land that God had promised them. It is the story of their deliverance. In this 40 chapter book we look upon a nation of people that turned away from God time and time again. Over and over again we see them being overcome by their selfishness. We watch as they complain against God after they get tired of what He had provided for them. We look on as they lose faith in the God that brought them out of Egypt and turn to a golden calf that they made for themselves. We see them having a big party celebrating their new god and listen as they praise it for delivering them from the hands of the Egyptians. Then we cringe as the true God brings wrath upon the children of Israel for their sin. And God is so angry with these “stiff-necked” people that He tells Moses to lead them into the land of Canaan, only without His presence, lest He would consume them.