Interceding for a sinful people
Scripture: Exodus 32:1–14
Freed to be God’s people: a study of Exodus
Interceding for a sinful people
When God’s people sin, his mediator prays that God would have mercy on them
32:1. Make us gods to go before us
How long has Moses been on the mountain? (24:18). What does the way they refer to Moses (“this Moses”) indicate how they think of him? What do we learn about their faith in God from this verse? In what ways can we be like the Israelites in not trusting God?
32:2-4. These are your gods, O Israel
How can Israel believe what they were saying, that this bull was the “gods who brought them out of Egypt”? (Romans 1:22-23).
32:5-6. Feasting and playing in Yahweh’s name
How does Aaron’s building an altar make matters worse? What is Aaron trying to accomplish by declaring a feast to the Lord the next day? What does Paul say we should learn from this incident (1 Corinthians 10:6-7)? How does Israel violate what they professed in 24:3 and 7? How does the author of Psalm 106:19-22 evaluate Israel’s behavior in this incident? What and happens when we dumb God down to make him more acceptable so that he fits our desires and lifestyles? As Americans turn from the true God, what is filling the vacuum?
R.C. Sproul. “The bull gave no law and demanded no obedience. It had no wrath or justice or holiness to be feared. It was deaf, dumb, and impotent. But at least it could not intrude on their fun and call them to judgment. This was a religion designed by men, practiced by men, and ultimately useless for men.”
32:7-8. Go down, Moses
Why does God call Israel “your people, whom you brought up from Egypt” when he tells Moses to go down to the people? The people were so stuck in the Egyptian mindset that they justified in their minds its false religion, even though God had proved it false over and over again by his mighty acts he performed in Egypt. Old habits and ways of thinking die hard; in times of stress people often revert to them even though they are useless or destructive. We need to ask ourselves, do our values and beliefs reflect the world or God’s word? Do your friends, co-workers and family see you handling stress, fear, and depression in ways that reflect dependence, trust and hope in Christ, or in ways that reflect hopelessness, and dependence on the broken solutions the world offers?
32:9-10. Let me alone, that I may consume this stiff-necked people
What does it mean to be “stiff-necked”? Why does God say “let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them”? How is Moses’ choice not to agree to let God wipe out Israel and make a great nation out of him like Jesus?
32:11-13. Moses intercedes for God’s sinful people
What does Moses NOT do in interceding for Israel? What reasons does Moses give in asking God not to destroy Israel? What are we asking God for when we ask mercy for sinful people?
32:14. The Lord relents from the disaster he said he would bring
Why does God relent from destroying Israel? Would God have been just to wipe out Israel? So what were the two unchangeable truths about God that were the reasons he listened to Moses’ appeal to relent? Why wasn’t Moses’ intercession a matter of trying to get God to do what he didn’t want to do? How is Moses’ interceding for Israel like Jesus’ interceding for us? What do these Scriptures teach us about Jesus interceding for us? 1 John 2:1-2, Romans 8:33-34, Hebrews 7:25. So how should we be interceding for other sinners? Have you given up or avoided praying for people who you don’t think deserve mercy? Since we are to pray according to what God has revealed of his redemptive purposes and his unchanging character, how can we pray in light of Ephesians 1:3-7?