Thursday, November 03, 2011
REFELECTIONS ON EXODUS 32 AND DEUTERONOMY (Part 7)
After communicating to Moses that He (God) viewed the people of Israel as corrupt and obstinate, having quickly turned aside from the commandments given to them, having made, worshipped and sacrificed to this idol, He reveals His response.
Was it right for God to declare, “Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them, and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation”? (Exodus 32:10) Does this imply an uncontrolled emotional outburst? Could this be understood as an expression of love? Is Richard Dawkins correct when he claims that, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” In preparation to resolve such concerns, let’s first consider God’s purpose for raising up the nation of Israel.
In Genesis 12:1-3 we read, “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
The Old Testament account of God’s interaction with the nation of Israel describes His effort to prepare a people who can reflect the fruit that we produce when honoring and obeying God’s design for personal and corporate life and who can, consequently, bless all nations with instruction regarding God’s redemptive provisions. Such redemptive provisions ultimately include the work of the Messiah that allows pardon to be righteously and wisely extended to all and any guilty party. Consider the following two passages: “And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Genesis 22:18, NASB) “And I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.” (Genesis 26:4-5, NASB)
The role and responsibility of the nation of Israel in regard to redemptive history was tremendously important and, as stated regarding Moses, obedience was crucial in the effective unfolding of this project.
The account we are considering in Exodus 32 is, in great measure, a defining moment, the significance of which we have likely underestimated as we approach such Scriptural accounts with a shallow, Sunday school mentality. In my next post, we will continue to reflect upon this defining moment and its connection with God’s severe, but I believe appropriate, response.