Friday, March 8, 2024

The Sacrifice Acceptable to God’s Standard

Moses interceded for Israel’s deliverance from God’s wrath by offering himself as the payment: “But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written” (Exodus 32:32 ESV).   

Maybe you are wondering why Moses made such an offer to God. Bridgeway Bible Commentary provided Moses’ commitment to Israel: “In a display of genuine love for the unbelieving people, Moses offered to die on their behalf and so be punished for them.[1]

What occurred that God became incensed with anger against Israel? Moses took longer than expected to receive God’s Tablet of Stones at Mount Moriah. Here’s what happened:

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him” (32:1).

While in the mountain, God told Moses what the people did in his absence:

And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” 9And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you” (32: 7-10).

After hearing what God wanted to do, Moses interceded on behalf of Israel and offered his life instead. However, God said no to his offer. Bridgeway Bible Commentary shared, “But God would not accept the death of one person for another, for all were sinners, though the extent of their sin varied. God would hold each person responsible for his or her actions. He would show mercy on the unfaithful nation, but he would punish individuals who rebelled against him.”[2]

Although God acknowledged the intercession of Moses for his people as a righteous act, unfortunately, his life is not considered a sufficient payment for the sins of Israel. Moreover, God reserved the right as far as His justice is concerned based on His prerogative. Simply stated, “33. . .the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book. 35 Then the LORD sent a plague on the people because they made the calf, the one that Aaron made.” (32:33, 35).

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Dr. Constable's Expository Notes shared, “He chose not to take Moses’ life as a substitute for the guilty in Israel since this would not have been just. Moses being a sinner himself could not have served as a final acceptable substitute for other sinners in any case.”[3]

God didn’t accept Moses’ life because of God’s requirement of an unblemished life. Moses, even as God’s chosen individual, overstated his status.

God, in this episode, provided the qualification of anyone doing so. God’s plan and purpose became
evident. Thus, Jesus’s sacrifice paid for the penalty of sin, i.e., death on the cross became the only sufficient payment required by God. John the Baptist, in seeing Jesus declared: “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 ESV).

What Jesus did become the only acceptable payment for the sins of humanity: “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand (Isaiah 53:10 ESV).

When God sent Jesus, He fulfilled what anyone, including Moses, cannot do, i.e., redemption from God’s wrath against sin. Most importantly, without Jesus and His sacrifice for us at the Cross of Calvary, we remain in our sin and cannot expect forgiveness from God.

In addition, the author of Hebrews has made it abundantly clear that Jesus fulfilled in His death what the Old Testament sacrificial system could only point to. In Hebrews 10:1-4 (ESV), it stated:

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”

There’s no doubt that Jesus embodied the fulfillment of God’s requirement. Between Moses and Jesus, there’s no comparison as to who fulfilled the redemption requirements against God’s wrath. Knowing this, why wouldn’t anyone put their trust in Jesus?

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