Exodus 32* The people cause Aaron to make a golden calf. (1-6) God'sdispleasure, The intercession of Moses. (7-14) Moses breaks thetables of the law, He destroys the golden calf. (15-20) Aaron'sexcuse, The idolaters slain. (21-29) Moses prays for the people.(30-35)1-6 While Moses was in the mount, receiving the law from God,the people made a tumultuous address to Aaron. This giddymultitude were weary of waiting for the return of Moses.Weariness in waiting betrays to many temptations. The Lord mustbe waited for till he comes, and waited for though he tarry. Lettheir readiness to part with their ear-rings to make an idol,shame our niggardliness in the service of the true God. They didnot draw back on account of the cost of their idolatry; andshall we grudge the expenses of religion? Aaron produced theshape of an ox or calf, giving it some finish with a gravingtool. They offered sacrifice to this idol. Having set up animage before them, and so changed the truth of God into a lie,their sacrifices were abomination. Had they not, only a few daysbefore, in this very place, heard the voice of the Lord Godspeaking to them out of the midst of the fire, Thou shalt notmake to thyself any graven image? Had they not themselvessolemnly entered into covenant with God, that they would do allhe had said to them, and would be obedient? ch. #24:7|. Yetbefore they stirred from the place where this covenant had beensolemnly made, they brake an express command, in defiance of anexpress threatening. It plainly shows, that the law was no moreable to make holy, than it was to justify; by it is theknowledge of sin, but not the cure of sin. Aaron was set apartby the Divine appointment to the office of the priesthood; buthe, who had once shamed himself so far as to build an altar to agolden calf, must own himself unworthy of the honour ofattending at the altar of God, and indebted to free grace alonefor it. Thus pride and boasting were silenced. 7-14 God says to Moses, that the Israelites had corruptedthemselves. Sin is the corruption of the sinner, and it is aself-corruption; every man is tempted when he is drawn aside ofhis own lust. They had turned aside out of the way. Sin is adeparting from the way of duty into a by-path. They soon forgotGod's works. He sees what they cannot discover, nor is anywickedness of the world hid from him. We could not bear to seethe thousandth part of that evil which God sees every day. Godexpresses the greatness of his just displeasure, after themanner of men who would have prayer of Moses could save themfrom ruin; thus he was a type of Christ, by whose mediationalone, God would reconcile the world to himself. Moses pleadsGod's glory. The glorifying God's name, as it ought to be ourfirst petition, and it is so in the Lord's prayer, so it oughtto be our great plea. And God's promises are to be our pleas inprayer; for what he has promised he is able to perform. See thepower of prayer. In answer to the prayers of Moses, God showedhis purpose of sparing the people, as he had before seemeddetermined on their destruction; which change of the outwarddiscovery of his purpose, is called repenting of the evil. 15-20 What a change it is, to come down from the mount ofcommunion with God, to converse with a wicked world. In God wesee nothing but what is pure and pleasing; in the world nothingbut what is sinful and provoking. That it might appear an idolis nothing in the world, Moses ground the calf to dust. Mixingthis powder with their drink, signified that the backslider inheart should be filled with his own ways. 21-29 Never did any wise man make a more frivolous and foolishexcuse than that of Aaron. We must never be drawn into sin byany thing man can say or do to us; for men can but tempt us tosin, they cannot force us. The approach of Moses turned thedancing into trembling. They were exposed to shame by their sin.The course Moses took to roll away this reproach, was, not byconcealing the sin, or putting any false colour upon it, but bypunishing it. The Levites were to slay the ringleaders in thiswickedness; yet none were executed but those who openly stoodforth. Those are marked for ruin who persist in sin: those whoin the morning were shouting and dancing, before night weredying. Such sudden changes do the judgments of the Lordsometimes make with sinners that are secure and jovial in theirsin. 30-35 Moses calls it a great sin. The work of ministers is toshow people the greatness of their sins. The great evil of sinappears in the price of pardon. Moses pleads with God for mercy;he came not to make excuses, but to make atonement. We are notto suppose that Moses means that he would be willing to perishfor ever, for the people's sake. We are to love our neighbour asourselves, and not more than ourselves. But having that mindwhich was in Christ, he was willing to lay down his life in themost painful manner, if he might thereby preserve the people.Moses could not wholly turn away the wrath of God; which showsthat the law of Moses was not able to reconcile men to God, andto perfect our peace with him. In Christ alone, God so pardonssin as to remember it no more. From this history we see, that nounhumbled, carnal heart, can long endure the holy precepts, thehumbling truths, and the spiritual worship of God. But a god, apriest, a worship, a doctrine, and a sacrifice, suited to thecarnal mind, will ever meet with abundance of worshippers. Thevery gospel itself may be so perverted as to suit a worldlytaste. Well is it for us, that the Prophet like unto Moses, butwho is beyond compare more powerful and merciful, has madeatonement for our souls, and now intercedes in our behalf. Letus rejoice in his grace.
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