Summary of passage: Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the people. Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes and begged the people to not rebel against the Lord–the land is good and God will grant it to them if they will only trust God. But the people would not listen–they wanted to stone them. Here, God can take His people’s unbelief no longer and appears. He tells Moses he can’t believe the people’s lack of faith after everything He has done for them and again offers Moses to be made into a great nation and have the people struck down.
Moses again says no. The Egyptians will then hear about it as well as the people occupying the Promised Land and say the Lord did not keep His promises to His people and instead slaughtered them. Moses asks God to forgive the people once again out of His great love.
8a) Moses and Aaron recognized the gravity of the situation, the gravity of what the Israelites were doing, the gravity of their rebellion and sin and Moses especially probably knew God’s anger burning right now against the people. Hence they ignored the people and instead prostrated themselves in prayer to God, knowing full well prayer is what the people needed right now if they were to survive this rebellion against the One, True God.
b) They had faith in God to bring them to the Promised Land to defeat their enemies. They trusted God to keep His promises.
c) The whole assembly might have stoned them to death.
d) Personal Question. My answer: Yes. When I was young and stupid, I put myself in dangerous situations and trusted people whom I didn’t know and I could have easily been raped or worse. But I wasn’t and it was only through God’s grace and protection.
9a) “I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they (the Israelites)”. God made the same offer to Moses after the golden calf in Exodus 32:10.
b) The Egyptians will then hear about the slaughter as well as the people occupying the Promised Land and say the Lord did not keep His promises to His people and question God’s infinite power and say God was not able to bring the people out of Egypt so instead He killed the people. This is the same reason Moses gave in Exodus 32:11-14.
c) The Egyptians will hear about it and tell the inhabitants of the Promised Land about it and question God’s goodness, compassion, grace, and abilities to do what He says He will do. Moses argues that God can display His strength here and show that He is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving of sin and rebellion. Moses pleads for God to show His great love for the people here and forgive.
Conclusions: Anyone else sick after this passage? Again, the people reject God. Again, He offers them undeserved grace and mercy. God is infinitely good and man is infinitely bad. Deja vu.
Our God is amazing as is Moses. For all of Moses’ weaknesses, he resisted the greatest temptation of all–to be made great. Moses’ love for the people is second only to God’s and Jesus’.
End Notes: Note the difference between Aaron and Moses’ response to the rebellion and Caleb and Joshua’s response. Caleb and Joshua attempt to persuade the people of God’s goodness, remind them of God’s promises, and get them to repent and turn to the Lord. Aaron and Moses, more experienced and older, flat out appeal to God’s grace–for grace is what these people need right now.
You know that when God shows up here it probably isn’t good. I can just imagine God in heaven, looking down at His people, seething with anger and punishment. And then when the people want to stone the two guys who are standing up for Him!! God couldn’t take it any longer!
We see the core of man’s evil here: kill those of faith. The devil (and thus man when we are turned away from God) cannot stand belief and thus must be stamped out entirely.
Note how God does not even speak to the people; He goes to Moses. The people are too far in their rebellion to hear Him. This begs the question of us: are we too far away from Him to hear Him as well?
Their rebellion makes no sense after all God has done for the people so He tells Moses He will grant their wish–death–and start over with Moses instead. The new nation would be better and stronger!
I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Moses had accepted God’s offer. What would be look like today? What “greater” and “stronger” would have looked like? If life would have been easier because we were “greater” and “stronger”? One can only imagine!
Moses’ zeal for God’s glory is hard to imagine! I wonder how many of us could/would do the same thing! How many of us guard God’s glory in a similar way?
People would doubt God’s ability and man’s sin would win out over God’s ability to conquer sin.
Moses quotes God back almost word-for-word God’s description of Himself in Exodus 34:6-8. How powerful and persuasive! Moses is saying “God, you told me who you were. Now act in accordance with who you are”.
Moses appealed to God’s glory, power, and promises; but what made God say yes to Moses was Moses’ heart. Moses’ love for the people and disregard for himself is what made God say yes. Here we see one of God’s purposes for this rebellion: to turn Moses’ heart into a heart like Jesus (Romans 8:29). For if God is for us, then who can be against us?
I can almost see God breathe a sigh of relief here: amidst all this rebellion, there is light–and the most powerful kind of light–God’s heart in all of us.
Take away: we see the power of a heart like Jesus’. There are no limits to what God can do if you have faith and trust that He will do what He says He will do.