Summary: Thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand. Exodus 32 verse 11.


Exodus 32:1-14.

The people began by saying, “Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:1). Then they changed their mind, saying of the molten calf, “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4; Exodus 32:8).

Speaking to Moses, the LORD referred to Israel as “your people, which you brought out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:7). Moses replied in prayer, “Thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand” (Exodus 32:11).

CONTEXT: Moses had told the people ‘all the words of the LORD’ (including the ten commandments): and all the people answered with one voice, ‘All the words which the LORD has said we will do’ (Exodus 24:3). Then the LORD called Moses back up into the mount, and Moses enjoined the elders to wait for him (Exodus 24:12-14). But he was gone ‘forty days and forty nights’ (Exodus 24:18).

EXODUS 32:1. When the people saw that Moses delayed, they became impatient. They called upon Aaron to make them “gods” to go up before them: “for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” It has been suggested that they were replacing not the LORD, but Moses.

EXODUS 32:4. Now this is part of the subtlety of sin. In their own minds they were not abandoning the worship of the LORD (Exodus 32:5), but they were making it more accessible. Yet they had already broken covenant with the LORD by making an image.

They offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings (Exodus 32:6). Notice, as a matter of interest, that they did NOT bring sin-offerings, because they had no consciousness of sin.

Stephen is clear in his criticism: ‘They made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands’ (Acts 7:41).

‘Neither be ye idolaters, as some of them,’ warns Paul; ‘as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play”’ (1 Corinthians 10:7). The implication is that the worship of Israel was reduced to an orgy.

This word “play” is interesting. It is the same word used of Isaac ‘sporting’ with his wife (Genesis 26:8). In that context it clearly has sexual connotations since the king quickly determined, ‘Of a surety she (is) your wife: so how come you said, “She is my sister”?’ (Genesis 26:9).

EXODUS 32:7. Ironically, even as Moses finished his business with the LORD in the mount, the LORD disowned His covenant people, telling Moses to get down “for your people which you brought up out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.” The indictment is that they had made a molten calf, worshipped it, and made sacrifices to it: and that they had said, “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:8; Exodus 32:4).

Now the wrath of the LORD waxed hot against them, and He determined to wipe them out, and make a new nation out of Moses (Exodus 32:10).

EXODUS 32:11. Such is the humility of Moses that he does not even consider the option of the LORD making a new nation out of him, to replace wayward Israel. Instead, Moses’ response is a model of intercessory prayer.

First, he is zealous for the honour of the LORD. It is the LORD who has brought Israel out of Egypt, so why should He give occasion for the Egyptians to suggest that He brought them out only to consume them in the mountains (Exodus 32:12)?

Second, he appeals to the covenant promise which the LORD had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 32:13).

We are not told here of any sin-offering being made, but “the LORD repented of the evil which He thought to do unto His people” (Exodus 32:14). Such is the power of prayer: that man should strive with God, and prevail (Genesis 32:28)!

The Cross of Jesus is the ultimate demonstration of God’s “great power and mighty hand” (Exodus 32:11). Through the sacrifice of Jesus, Christians have been brought out of captivity to sin and death (Romans 8:2). Because He took our sin, we are made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

It is part of the purposes of God that His purposes should be fulfilled through the prayers of His people. We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous (1 John 2:1), who is ever interceding for us at the right hand of God (Romans 8:34). We are enjoined by Jesus Himself to ‘ask in my Name’ (John 16:24), and so we may come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16).

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