Thursday, February 7, 2019
Exodus 32:30 The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”
God called Moses to lead the people of Israel out of their bondage and slavery in Egypt. Deliverance from slavery was a beautiful picture of the deliverance from sin that God provides. It was time for God to use Moses to introduce that deliverance to the people. God called Moses up onto a mountain for a personal consultation about the law. God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, along with all the social and spiritual regulations for everyday life. Included in those laws was the gift of God’s grace for the forgiveness of sins through the atoning sacrifices that would be offered in the tabernacle.
The word atonement is formally introduced to the people of Israel. Atonement means to cover over. It is the word God chose to describe what happens to our sin when we confess it and repent. Our sins are covered over by the blood of the sacrifice for sin so that God’s justice is satisfied. Until this time in history, the Hebrew word for atonement had been used only twice. Both uses of the word give us a beautiful picture of what we are to understand about forgiveness through an atoning sacrifice for sin.
The first time the word is used is in Genesis 6, when Noah is building the ark. In the description of the building process we are told that Noah covered the inside and the outside of the ark with pitch. This made the ark waterproof and allowed the boat to float without fear of springing a leak and sinking. When the judgment of rain came to destroy the sinners, the people inside the ship were saved because the ship had been covered.
The only other time the word is used prior Moses was also in Genesis, when Jacob was about to meet his brother Esau for the first time since stealing the firstborn’s inheritance from him. Jacob sent three groups of servants ahead of himself with livestock as gifts for Esau. He told the servants, “I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.” The word pacify that Jacob used is the word to cover over. Jacob hoped his gifts would make atonement for his sin against his brother and they would bring peace between them.
Whit those events in mind, God introduces atonement to Moses. The sacrifices they would offer on the altar of God would cover their lives against judgment for sin and bring peace between them and God. But Moses also grasped a far deeper meaning when he came down off the mountain. While Moses was on the mountain receiving the law of God, the people of Israel were rebelling against God and making idols. When Moses came down from the mountain he saw the golden calf that had been crafted, and he was furious. He knew that God’s judgment against sin would be swift and severe. God’s judgment for sin is death, and eternal separation from His glory. The names of sinners are blotted out forever from His book of life. But Moses also knew that God was willing to forgive based on a sacrifice that would pay the penalty for the sin.
Moses now does something incredible – he offers himself to God as the sacrifice. Exodus 32:31-34 explains that Moses asked to be the substitutionary sacrifice for the people of Israel. Before any of the sacrifices of animals took place on the altar, Moses knew that the blood of those animals was insufficient to pay for the sins of mankind. He knew that a person would have to die for the sins of people. He volunteered to be that person.
God rejected his offer because Moses was also guilty of sin and deserved the punishment of eternal separation from God. When God says to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book” he is telling Moses that he is not qualified to be that sacrifice.
But Moses had not been a part of this sin. Why was he guilty? Was it because he had sinned previously in his life? Yes, but the real reason is that Moses was born with a sin nature that is eternally separated from God. So are we. Unless a sufficient sacrifice is offered for that sin, we cannot be forgiven. Moses tried to be that sacrifice for his people, but he was not qualified.
But in His great and eternal love for us God sent a perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins – Jesus Christ. He was born of a virgin so He had no sin nature from an earthly father. He lived a sinless life so he did not deserve to be punished with death. He gave Himself voluntarily so that our sins could be covered by His blood and we could be at peace with God. In the New Testament the Apostle John says it this way – This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10).
Hallelujah! Our sins are covered and we are forgiven by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ!
Now, as a result, be like Moses and put your life on the line to bring forgiveness to others.