Exodus 32:31-34 (NIV)
So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”
The Lord replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.”
Romans 5:6-11 (NIV)
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
“Why didn’t God accept the sacrifice of Israel’s mediator? The answer is not stated in Exodus 32, but we know it from the rest of Scripture. Moses could not die for his people’s sin because he was himself a sinner… As we read through the Bible we keep looking for a Savior, someone to atone for sin… And he [Jesus] is the only man who could make atonement because he alone is without sin… The more we study Moses, the more we learn about Jesus. This is the way the Bible works. The story of salvation keeps getting clearer and clearer.” [Ryken, Philip G. Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory]
The events of Exodus 32 present the first major transgressions of Israel in the desert wanderings that aroused God’s righteous anger. Moses did not know what to do about such great sin, and so he offered the greatest thing he had – his own life! Yet such an offering was not enough, because Moses was himself a sinner. Sinful humanity needed a perfect Savior to redeem them.
As Romans 5:6 says, Jesus died “at just the right time”. Exodus 32 points forward to a Savior who will intercede in a more complete way than Moses, One who will take the punishment we all deserved. And this is how God continues to demonstrate his own love for us in that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. Today, let’s worship our Savior Jesus, as we sing “No Longer I” by Matt Redman.