Exodus 32-33

Read Exodus 32-33.

There seems to be some confusion in Exodus 32, specifically with regard to who brought the people of Israel out of Egypt. When Aaron had fashioned the gold of the Israelites into a golden calf, the people proclaimed that these were the gods who brought them up out of Egypt. But when the Lord spoke to Moses about the rejection of the people, he called them the people Moses brought up out of the land of Egypt. Just a few verses later, however, Moses pled with the Lord on behalf of the people the Lord brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Before the chapter ends, the people would also identify Moses as “the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt.”

There was some truth in a couple of these explanations. It was the Lord, working through Moses’ leadership, who brought the people up out of the land of Egypt, but in the wake of their rejection of the Lord in favor of other gods, God made it clear that He wouldn’t be going with them any farther. The people could still go into the land flowing with milk and honey, but the Lord wouldn’t be among them. When the people heard the Lord’s intention, they recognized it as the disaster that it was. As Moses would ask on behalf of the people, “Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”

The people ultimately realized that promises of God were not worth having without the presence of God. Have you come to that realization? The truth is that we all face the same temptation as the Israelites–viewing the Lord through a transactional lens instead of a relational lens. We all need people in our lives like Moses–people who will intercede on our behalf before the Lord. And we all need the Lord to go with us and give us rest. Life can be confusing, but remembering what the Lord has done can give us the clarity to say, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.”

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