2398. The Mediation Of Moses

by on
Share:

No. 2398-41:49. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, February 17, 1887, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, February 3, 1895.

And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do to his people. {Ex 32:14}

1. I suppose that I need not say that this verse speaks after the manner of men. I do not know after what other manner we can speak. To speak of God after the manner of God, is reserved for God himself; and mortal men could not comprehend such speech. In this sense, the Lord often speaks, not according to literal fact, but according to the appearance of things to us, in order that we may understand so far as the human can comprehend the divine. The Lord’s purposes never really change. His eternal will must for ever be the same; for he cannot alter, since he would either have to alter for the better or for the worse. He cannot change for the better, for he is infinitely good; it would be blasphemous to suppose that he could change for the worse. He who sees all things at once, and perceives at one glance the beginning and the end of all things, has no need to repent. “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent”; but, in the course of his action, there appears to us to be sometimes a great change, and just as we say of the sun that it rises and sets, though it does not actually do so, and we do not deceive when we speak in that way, so we say concerning God, in the language of the text, “The Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do to his people.” It appears to us to be so, and it is so in the act of God; yet this statement casts no doubt on the great and glorious doctrine of the immutability of God.

2. Speaking after the manner of men, the mediation of Moses accomplished this change in the mind of God. God in Moses seemed to overcome God out of Moses. God in the Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus, appears to be stronger for mercy than God apart from the Mediator. This saying of our text is very wonderful, and it deserves our most earnest and careful consideration.

3. Just think, for a minute, of Moses up there in the serene solitude with God. He had left the tents of Israel down below, and he had passed within the mystical circle of fire where no one may come but he who is especially invited; and there, alone with God, Moses had a glorious season of fellowship with the Most High. He lent his listening ear to the instructions of the Almighty concerning the priesthood, and the tabernacle, and the altar; and he was enjoying a profound peace of mind, when, suddenly, he was startled. The whole tone of the speech of the Lord seemed changed, and he said to Moses, “Go, get down; for your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.” I can hardly imagine even thoughts passed through the great leader’s mind. How Moses must have trembled in the presence of God! All the joy that he had experienced seemed suddenly to vanish, leaving behind, however, something of the strength which always comes from fellowship with God. Moses needed this now if ever he needed it in all his life; for this was the crucial period in the history of Moses, this was his severest trial, when alone with God on the mountain’s brow, he was called to come out of the happy serenity of his spirit, and to hear the voice of an angry God, saying, “Leave me alone, that my wrath may grow hot against them, and so that I may consume them.”

4. The language of God was very stern; and well it might be after all that he had done for that people. When the song of Miriam had scarcely ceased, when you might almost hear the echoes of that jubilant note, “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; he has thrown into the sea the horse and his rider”; you might quickly have heard a very different cry, “Get up, make us gods”; and, in the presence of the calf that Aaron made, the same people blasphemously exclaimed, “These are your gods, oh Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” Such a prostitution of their tongues to horrid blasphemies against Jehovah, such a turning aside from the truth to the grossest of falsehoods, might well provoke the anger of a righteously jealous God.

5. It is noteworthy that Moses did not lose himself in this moment of trial. We read at once, “And Moses besought Jehovah his God.” He was undoubtedly a man of prayer, but he must have been continually in the spirit of prayer, or else I could conceive of him, at that moment, falling on his face, and lying there in silent horror. I could imagine him rushing down the mountain in a passionate haste to see what the people had done; but it is delightful to find that he did neither of these two things, but that he began to pray. Oh, friends, if we habitually pray, we shall know how to pray when praying times become more pressing than usual! The man who is to wrestle with the angel must have been familiar with angels beforehand. You cannot go into your bedroom, and shut the door, and begin a mighty intercessory prayer if you have never been to the mercy seat before. No, Moses is “the man of God.” You remember that he left us a prayer, in the ninetieth Psalm, bearing this title, “A prayer of Moses, the man of God.” There is no man of God if there is no prayer, for prayer makes the man into “the man of God.” So, instinctively, though startled and saddened to the nth degree, Moses is on his knees, beseeching the Lord his God.

6. I. This, then, is the scene I have to bring before you, and my first observation shall be, that NOTHING CAN HINDER A TRULY LOVING SPIRIT FROM PLEADING FOR THE OBJECTS OF ITS LOVE.

7. There were many things that might have hindered Moses from making intercessory prayer; and the first was, the startling greatness of the people’s sin. God himself told Moses in strong language. He said, “The people have corrupted themselves: they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed to it, and said, ‘These are your gods, oh Israel, which have brought you up out of the land of Egypt.’ ” This terrible accusation from the mouth of God, spoken as God would speak it, must have impressed Moses greatly with the awful character of Israel’s sin; for, further on, we find Moses saying to God, “Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.” It has happened to you, I suppose, as it has to me, that in the sight of a great sin one has almost hesitated to pray about it. The person sinned so grossly, under circumstances so particularly grievous, transgressed so wilfully and so altogether without excuse, that you felt thrust back from the mercy seat and from pleading for such a sinner; but it was not so with Moses. Idolatry is a horrible sin, yet Moses is not kept back from pleading for its forgiveness. It astounds him, his own wrath grows hot against it; but still, there he is, pleading for the transgressors. What else can he do but pray? And he does that in the best possible way. Oh, let us never say, when we see great sin, “I am appalled by it; I cannot pray about it; I am sickened by it, I loathe it.” Some time ago, we had revelations of the most infamous criminality in this great city, which we cannot even now quite forget; and I must confess that I sometimes felt as if I could not pray for some of the wretches who sinned so foully; but we must shake off that kind of feeling, and, even in the presence of the most atrocious iniquity, we must still say, “I will pray even for these Jerusalem sinners, that God may deliver them from the bondage of their sin.”

8. A second thing that might have hindered Moses was, not only the sin, but the obvious obstinacy of those who had committed the sin. Moses had it on the evidence of the heart-searching God that these people were extremely perverse. The Lord said, “I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff-necked people.” Poor Moses had to learn, in later years, how true that saying was, for though he poured out his very soul for them, and was tender towards them as a nurse with a child yet they often vexed and wearied his spirit so that he cried to the Lord, “Have I conceived all these people? Have I begotten them, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nursing-father bears the nursing child, to the land which you swore to their fathers?’ ” He was crushed beneath the burden of Israel’s perversity; yet, though God himself had told him that they were a stiff-necked people, Moses besought the Lord concerning these obstinate sinners.

9. Then, thirdly, the prayer of Moses might have been hindered by the greatness of God’s wrath; yet he said, “Lord, why does your wrath grow hot against your people?” Shall I pray for the man with whom God is angry? Shall I dare to be an intercessor with God who is righteously wrathful? Why, some of us scarcely pray to the merciful God in this gospel age in which he is so full of goodness and longsuffering; there are some who profess to be God’s people who make very little intercession for the ungodly. I am afraid that, if they had seen God angry, they would have said, “It is of no use to pray for those idolaters. God is not unjustly angry. He knows what he does, and I must leave the matter there.” But mighty love dares to cast itself on its face even before an angry God; it dares to plead with him, and to ask him, “Why does your wrath grow hot?” although it knows the reason, and lays no blame on the justice of God. Yes, love and faith together bring such a holy daring into the hearts of men of God that they can go into the presence of the King of kings, and cast themselves down before him, even when he is in his wrath, and say, “Oh God, spare your people; have mercy on those with whom you are justly angry!”

10. Perhaps it is an even more remarkable thing that Moses was not hindered from praying to God though, to a large degree at the time, and much more afterwards, he sympathized with God in his wrath. We have read how Moses’ anger grew hot when he saw the calf, and the dancing; do you not see the holy man dashing the precious tablets on the earth, regarding them as too sacred for the unholy eyes of idolaters to gaze on? He saves them, as it were, from the desecration of contact with such a guilty people by smashing them to pieces on the ground. Can you not see how his eyes flash fire as he tears down their idol, burns it in the fire, grinds it to powder, spreads it on the water, and makes them drink it? He is determined that it shall go into their very bowels; they shall be made to know what kind of a thing it was that they called a god. He was extremely angry with Aaron; and when he told the sons of Levi to draw the sword of vengeance, and kill the audacious rebels, his wrath was fiercely hot, and rightly so. Yet he prays for the guilty people. Oh, never let your indignation against sin prevent your prayers for sinners! If the tempest comes on, and your eyes flash lightning’s, and your lips speak thunderbolts, yet let the silver drops of pitying tears fall down your cheek, and pray the Lord that the blessed shower may be acceptable to himself, especially when you plead for Jesus’ sake. Nothing can stop the true lover of men’s souls from pleading for them; indeed, not even our burning indignation against infamous iniquity. We see it, and all our blood boils at the sight; yet we go to our knees, and cry, “God be merciful to these great sinners, and pardon them, for Jesus’ sake!”

11. A still greater hindrance to the prayer of Moses than those I have mentioned was, God’s request for the pleading to cease. The Lord himself said to the intercessor, “Leave me alone.” Oh, friends, I fear that you and I would have thought that it was time to stop praying when the Lord with whom we were pleading said, “Leave me alone: leave me alone.” But I believe that Moses prayed all the more earnestly because of that apparent rebuff. Under the cover of that expression, if you look closely into it, you will see that Moses’ prayer was really prevailing with God. Even before he had uttered it, while it was only being formed in his soul, Jehovah felt the force of it; otherwise he would not have said, “Leave me alone.”

12. And Moses appeared to gain courage from what might have checked a less earnest supplicant; he seemed to say to himself, “Evidently God feels the force of my strong desires, and I will therefore wrestle with him until I prevail” It was a real rebuff, and was, doubtless, intended by the Lord to be the test of the patience, the perseverance, the confidence, the self-denying love of Moses. Jehovah says, “Leave me alone, so that my wrath may grow hot against them, and that I may consume them”; but Moses will not leave him alone. Oh you who love the Lord, give him no rest until he saves men; and though he himself should seem to say to you, “Leave me alone,” do not leave him alone, for he wishes you to be persistent with him, like that widow was with the unjust judge! The wicked man granted the poor woman’s request because of her continual coming; and God is testing and trying you to see whether you really mean your prayers. He will keep you waiting for a while, and even seem to repulse you, so that you may, with an undaunted courage, say, “I will approach you; I will break through all obstacles to get to you. Even if it is not according to the law, I will go in to the King of kings; and if I perish, I perish; but I will pray for sinners even if I perish in the act.”

13. And, dear friends, there is one more thing that might have hindered the prayer of Moses. I want to bring this all out, so that you may see how tender-hearted love will pray in spite of every difficulty. Moses prayed against his own personal interests, for Jehovah said to him, “Leave me alone, so that I may consume them”; and then, looking with a glance of wondrous satisfaction on his faithful servant, he said, “I will make from you a great nation.” What an opportunity for an ambitious man! Moses may become the founder of a great nation if he wishes. You know how men and women, in those olden days, panted to be the progenitors of innumerable peoples, and looked on it as the highest honour of mortal men that their seed should fill the earth. Here is the opportunity for Moses to become the father of a nation that God will bless. All the blessings of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, are to be met in Moses and his seed; but no, he will not have it so. He turns to God, and cries to him still to bless the sinful people. It seems as if he passed over the offer that God made, sub silentio, as we say; leaving it in utter silence, he cries, “Spare your people, and bless your inheritance.”

14. II. Now I introduce to you a second thought, which is, that NOTHING CAN DEPRIVE A LOVING SPIRIT OF ITS ARGUMENTS IN PRAYER FOR OTHERS.

15. It is one thing to be willing to besiege the throne of grace; but it is quite another thing to get the ammunition for prayer. Sometimes you cannot pray, for prayer means the pleading of arguments; and there are times when arguments fail you, when you cannot think of any reason why you should pray. Now there was no argument in these people, nothing that Moses could see in those that he could plead with God for them; so he turned his eyes another way, he looked to God, and pleaded what he saw in him.

16. His first argument was, that the Lord had made them his people. He said, “Lord, why does your wrath grow hot against your people?” The Lord had said to Moses, “Get down, for your people have corrupted themselves.” “No,” says Moses, “they are not my people; they are your people.” It was a noble “retort courteous,” {a} as it were, on the ever-blessed One. “In your wrath you call them my people; but you know that they are not mine; they are yours, you chose their forefathers, and you entered into covenant with them, and I remind you that they are your chosen ones, the objects of your love and mercy; and therefore, oh Lord, because they are yours, will you not bless them?” Oh, use that argument in your supplications! If you cannot say of a sinner that he is God’s chosen, at least you can say that he is God’s creature; therefore use that plea, “Oh God, do not permit your creature to perish!”

17. Next, Moses pleads that the Lord had done great things for them, for he says, “Why does your wrath grow hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?” “I never brought Israel out of Egypt,” says Moses, “how could I have done it? I did not divide the Red Sea; I did not strike Pharaoh; you have done it, oh Lord, you alone have done it; and if you have done all this, will you not finish what you have begun?” This was grand pleading on the part of Moses, and I do not wonder that it prevailed. Now, if you see any sign of grace, any indication of God’s work in the heart, plead it with the Lord. Say, “You have done so much, oh Lord; be pleased to do the rest, and let these people be saved with your everlasting salvation!”

18. Then Moses goes on to mention, in the next place, that the Lord’s name would be compromised if Israel should be destroyed. He says, “Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘For mischief he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth?’ ” If God’s people are not saved, if Christ does not see the travail of his soul, the majesty of God and the honour of the Redeemer will be compromised. Shall Christ die for no reason? Shall the gospel be preached in vain? Shall the Holy Spirit be poured out without avail? Let us plead like this with God, and we shall not run short of arguments that we may urge with him.

19. Moses goes on to mention that God was in covenant with these people. See how he puts it in the thirteenth verse: “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of I will give to your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.’ ” There is no pleading with God like reminding him of his covenant. Get a hold of a promise of God, and you may pray with great boldness, for the Lord will not renege on his own word; but get a hold of the covenant, and you may plead with the greatest possible confidence. If I may compare a single promise to one great gun in the heavenly siege-train, then the covenant may be compared to a whole field of artillery; with that, you may besiege heaven, and come off a conqueror. Moses pleads like this with the Lord: “How can you destroy these people, even though you are angry with them, and they deserve your wrath? You have promised to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, that their seed shall inherit the land; and if they are destroyed, how can they enter into Canaan, and possess it?” This is grand pleading; but what bravery it was when Moses dared to say to God, “Remember your covenant, and turn from your fierce anger, and repent of your thoughts of evil against your people!” Oh Lord, teach us also how to plead like this!

20. Nor was Moses without another argument, the most wonderful of all. If you read in the next chapter, at the sixteenth verse, you will notice how Moses says to God, in effect, “I cannot be parted from these people; with them I will live; with them I will die. If you blot their name out of your book, blot out my name also. If your presence does not go with me, do not carry us up there. For how shall it be known here that I and your people have found grace in your sight? Is it not in that you go with us?” See how he puts it: “I and your people … . You go with us.” “No,” says Moses, “I will not be favoured by myself; I will sink or swim with these people.” And I think that this is how the Lord Jesus Christ pleads for his Church when he is interceding with God. “My Father,” he says, “I must have my people. My Church is my bride, and I, the Bridegroom, cannot lose my spouse. I will die for her; and if I live, she must live also; and if I rise to glory, she must be brought to glory with me.” You see, it is, “I and your people”; this is the glorious conjunction of Christ with us as it was of Moses with the children of Israel. And, brethren, we never prevail in prayer so much as when we seem to link ourselves with the people for whom we pray. You cannot stand up above them, as though you were their superior, and then pray for them with any success; you must get down by the side of the sinner, and say, “Let us plead with God.” Sometimes, when you are preaching to people, or when you are praying for them, you must feel as if you could die for them, if they might be saved, and if they were lost it would seem as if you, too, had lost everything. Rutherford said that he should have two heavens if only one soul from Anwoth met him at God’s right hand; and, doubtless, we shall have the same, and we have sometimes felt as if we had a hell at the thought of any of our hearers being cast into hell. When you can pray like that, when you put yourself side by side with the soul for which you are pleading, you will succeed. You will be like Elisha, when he stretched himself on the Shunammite’s son, and put his mouth on the child’s mouth, his eyes on the child’s eyes, his hands on the child’s hands, and seemed to identify himself with the dead child. Then he was made the means of quickening to the lad. May God help us to plead like this in our prayers for sinners!

21. There is one other thing, which I think has hardly ever been noticed, and that is the way in which Moses finished his prayer by pleading the sovereign mercy of the Lord. When you are pleading with a man, it is sometimes a very wise thing to stop your own pleading, and let the man himself speak, and then out of his own mouth get your argument. When Moses pleaded with God for the people, he had at first only half an answer; and he turned around to the Lord, and said, “You have favoured me, and promised me great things; now I ask something more of you. ‘I beseech you, show me your glory.’ ” I do not think that was idle curiosity on the part of Moses, but that he meant to use it as the great master-plea in prayer. When the Lord said to him, “I will make all my goodness pass before you,” I think I see the tears in the eyes of Moses, and I seem to hear him say, “He cannot strike the people, he cannot destroy them. He is going to make all his goodness pass before me, and I know what that is, infinite love, infinite mercy, mercy that endures for ever.” And then, when the Lord said, “I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy,” how the heart of Moses must have leaped within him as he said, “There it is, that glorious truth of divine sovereignty; the Lord will show mercy on whom he will show mercy. Why, then, he can have mercy on these wicked wretches who have been making a god out of a calf, and bowing before it!” I do delight, sometimes, to fall back on the sovereignty of God, and say, “Lord, here is a wicked wretch; I cannot see any reason why you should save him! I can see many reasons why you should damn him; but then you do as you will. Oh, magnify your sovereign grace by saving this great sinner! Let men see what a mighty King you are, and how royally you handle the silver sceptre of your pardoning mercy.”

22. That is a grand argument, for it gives God all the glory; it puts him on the throne; it acknowledges that he is an absolute Sovereign, who is not to be dictated to, or held in with bonds and cords. Shall he not do as he wills with his own? We often need to listen to the sublime truth that thunders out from the throne of God, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So, then, it is not by him who wills, nor by him who runs, but by God who shows mercy.” Out of this truth comes the best plea that ever trembles on a pleader’s lips. “Great King, eternal, immortal, invisible, have mercy on us! Divine Sovereign, exercise your gracious dispensing power, and let the guilty rebels live!”

23. III. Now, in the third place, let me say that NOTHING CAN HINDER A PLEADING SPIRIT OF SUCCESS. The text says, “The Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do to his people.”

24. If you and I know how to plead for sinners, there is no reason why we should not succeed, for, first, there is no reason in the character of God. Try, if you can, to get some idea of what God is; and though you tremble before his sovereignty, and adore his holiness, and magnify his justice, remember that he is still, first and foremost, love. “God is love,” and that love shines in all the divine attributes. It is undiminished in its glory by any one of them. All the attributes of God are harmonious with each other, and love seems to be the very centre of the circle. Let us never be afraid of pleading with God. He will never be grieved with us that we pray for sinners, for it is so much after his own mind. “ ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way, and live.’ ” The character of God is infinitely gracious; even in its sovereignty, it is grace that reigns; therefore, let us never be afraid of pleading with the Lord. We shall surely succeed, for there is nothing in God’s character to hinder us.

25. And, next, there is nothing in God’s thought to hinder the pleader’s success. Look at the text: “The Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do to his people.” I will therefore never be hindered in my pleading by any idea of the divine purpose, whatever that purpose may be. There are some who have dreaded what they call “the horrible decrees of God.” No divine decree is horrible to me; and it shall never hinder me in pleading with the Lord for the salvation of men. He is God; therefore let him do what seems good to him, absolute authority is safe enough in his hands. But even if he had thought to do evil to his people, there is no reason why we should cease from praying; we may still succeed, for so the text has it, “Jehovah repented of the evil, which he thought to do to his people.”

26. I will go yet further, and say that there is nothing even in God’s act to hinder us from pleading with success. If God has begun to strike the sinner, as long as that sinner is in this world, I will still pray for him. Remember, how, when the fiery rain was falling on Sodom and Gomorrah, and the vile cities of the plain were being covered with its bituminous sleet, Zoar was preserved in answer to the prayers of Lot. Look at David; he was a great sinner, and he had brought on his people a terrible plague, and the destroying angel stood with his drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem; but when David saw the angel, he said to the Lord, “Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done?” So the Lord was entreated for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel. Why, if I saw you between the very jaws of hell, as long as they had not actually engulfed you, I would pray for you! God forbid that we should sin against any guilty ones by ceasing to pray for them however desperate their case! My text seems to me to put this matter with astonishing force and power; the evil which God had thought to do was prevented by the intercession of his servant Moses.

27. IV. I had many more things to say to you, but I must leave them unsaid, and conclude by reminding you, in only a sentence or two, that NOTHING IN THE MEDIATION OF MOSES CAN MATCH OUR GREATER INTERCESSOR, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.

28. Remember, brethren, that he not only prayed, and willingly offered himself to die for us, but he actually died for us. His name was blotted from the book of the living, he died so that we might live. He did not go to God saying, “Perhaps, I may make atonement for the guilty”; but he made the atonement; and his pleading for sinners is perpetually prevalent. God is hearing Christ at this moment as he makes intercession for the transgressors, and he is giving him to see the travail of his soul. This being the case, nothing ought to prevent any sinner from pleading for himself through Jesus Christ. If you think that God intends to destroy you, yet go and pray to him, for “The Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do to his people.” So may he deal in mercy with you, for his dear Son’s sake! Amen.

{a} Retort Courteous: The act or practice of replying in a sharp or incisive manner.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ex 32}

1. And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron, and said to him, “Get up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what is become of him.”

What a terrible speech to be made by the people whom God had chosen to be his own! “Make us gods. Make our Creator.” How could that be?

2. And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them to me.”

Poor Aaron! He never had the backbone of his brother Moses. He was a better speaker; but oh, the poverty of his heart! He yields to the will of these idolatrous people, and bows to their wicked behests at once.

3. And all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron.

Idolaters spare no expense; there is many a worshipper of a god of wood or mud who gives more to that idol than professing Christians give to the cause of the one living and true God. It is sad that it should be so.

4. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with an engraving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, “These are your gods, oh Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”

This was an Egyptian idolatry, the worship of God in the form of an ox, the emblem of strength; but God is not to be worshipped under emblems at all. What a poor representation of God any emblem must be!

5. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD.”

They were going to worship Jehovah under the emblem of an ox. This is what you will hear idolaters say; they do not worship the image, they say, but the true God under that image. Yet that is expressly forbidden under the second commandment.

6. And they rose up early the next morning, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.

Lascivious games were sure to accompany idolatrous worship, for idolatry always leads to filthiness in some form or other, as if it were inevitable.

7. And the LORD said to Moses, “Go, get down; for your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:

How startled Moses must have been when Jehovah said this to him!

8, 9. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed to it, and said, ‘These are your gods, oh Israel, which have brought you up out of the land of Egypt.’ ” And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff-necked people.

Moses perhaps begins to lift his voice in prayer, and God says: —

10. Now therefore leave me alone, that my wrath may grow hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of you a great nation.”

“I will keep my promise to Abraham by destroying these rebels, and taking you, his true descendant, and fulfilling the covenant in you.”

11-13. And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, “LORD, why does your wrath grow hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘For mischief did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth?’ Turn from your fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of I will give to your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.’ ”

What a brave prayer this was! Here is a wrestling Moses, true son of wrestling Israel; and he brings his arguments to bear on Jehovah when he is angry, and he succeeds in turning aside the Lord’s wrath.

14, 15. And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do to his people. And Moses turned, and went down from the mount,

An unhappy, broken-hearted man, going from the closest communion with God, down into the midst of a wicked people.

15-17. And the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; they were written on the one side and on the other. And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tables. And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.”

Joshua had probably waited lower down, and he met Moses in his descent. He heard with the keen ears of a soldier, and his thoughts went that way.

18, 19. And he said, “It is not the voice of those who shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of those who cry for being overcome: but I hear the noise of those who sing.” And it came to pass, as soon as he came near to the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger grew hot, and he threw the tables out of his hands, and broke them beneath the mount.

This is he who had been praying to God, and saying, “Why does your wrath grow hot against your people?” Now he is in deep sympathy with God, and he himself is angry with the idolaters. He cannot help it when he begins to see their sin. Before, he had only thought of the people; but now he looks at their sin. When you see sin, if you are a man of God, your wrath grows hot, and you get into sympathy with that holy God who cannot be otherwise than indignant at iniquity wherever it may be.

20. And he took the calf which they had made, and burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and spread it on the water, and made the children of Israel drink it.

See the power of this one man who has God behind, and God in him. While the people are dancing around their idol, he tears it down, grinds it to powder, and says, “Every one of you shall drink it.” Why, there are millions to one; but what does he care about their millions? God is with him, and he is God’s servant; and, therefore, they all tremble before him.

21-24. And Moses said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you have brought so great a sin on them?” And Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my Lord grow hot: you know the people, that they are set on mischief. For they said to me, ‘Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what is become of him.’ And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.’ So they gave it to me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.”

That was a lie, for he had made the calf, and shaped it himself. Aaron did not have any backbone, nor any principle, he could not be stout-hearted for God. What a poor little man he seems by the side of his great brother! How he shrivels up under the rebuke of Moses!

26. And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked to their shame among their enemies:)

Moses does not spare Aaron, he lays at his door the guilt of the great sin he had committed: “Aaron had made them naked to their shame among their enemies.”

26, 27. Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Who is on the LORD’S side? Let him come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.’ ”

This is the man who pleaded for them on the top of the mount. See how he acts in the sight of their sin; by divine authority, he strikes them right and left. Possibly, those who were killed were the men who refused to drink the water on which the powder had been sprinkled, or those who continued in rebellion against the Lord.

28-30. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. For Moses had said, “Consecrate yourselves today to the LORD, for every man has opposed his son and his brother; so that he may bestow on you a blessing today.” And it came to pass on the next day, that Moses said to the people, “You have sinned a great sin; and now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I shall make an atonement for your sin.”

I will be bound to say that this was said after a sleepless night. The people’s sin is now so vividly before him that he begins to feel that God will be just if he punishes them, and does not grant them any forgiveness, so once more he goes up that steep climb to the top of Sinai with a trembling heart, and with only a “perhaps” on his lip.

31, 32. And Moses returned to the LORD, and said, “Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if you will forgive their sin — ,

There he broke down, he could not finish that sentence.

32. And if not, please blot me out of your book which you have written.”

“Let me die in their place!” But God could not accept one man in the place of another; there is a great Substitute, ordained of old, but he is more than man, and therefore he can stand in the sinner’s place.

33-36. And the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot him out of my book. Therefore now go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you: behold, my Angel shall go before you: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin on them.” And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.

Moses had only half success in pleading for the people; they were not to die as yet, but God declared that he would visit their sin on them.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, His Praise — Redeeming Love” 440}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Man Fallen — Mourning Over Transgressors” 473}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Public Worship, Revivals and Missions — Revival Sought” 957}


Jesus Christ, His Praise
440 — Redeeming Love <7s.>
1 Now begin the heavenly theme,
   Sing aloud in Jesus’ name!
   Ye, who his salvation prove,
   Triumph in redeeming love.
2 Ye, who see the Father’s grace
   Beaming in the Saviour’s face,
   As to Canaan on ye move,
   Praise and bless redeeming love.
3 Mourning souls, dry up your tears,
   Banish all your guilty fears;
   See your guilt and curse remove,
   Cancell’d by redeeming love.
4 Ye, alas! who long have been
   Willing slaves to death and sin,
   Now from bliss no longer rove;
   Stop and taste redeeming love.
5 Welcome all by sin oppress’d,
   Welcome to his sacred rest,
   Nothing brought him from above,
   Nothing but redeeming love.
6 When his Spirit leads us home,
   When we to his glory come,
   We shall all the fulness prove
   Of our Lord’s redeeming love.
7 He subdued the infernal powers,
   His tremendous foes and ours,
   From their cursed empire drove,
   Mighty in redeeming love.
8 Hither then your music bring,
   Strike aloud each cheerful string:
   Mortals, join the host above,
   Join to praise redeeming love.
                  Madan’s Collection, 1763.


Man Fallen
473 — Mourning Over Transgressors
1 Arise, my tenderest thoughts, arise,
   To torrents melt my streaming eyes;
   And thou, my heart, with anguish feel
   Those evils which thou canst not heal.
2 See human nature sunk in shame;
   See scandals pour’d on Jesus’ name;
   The Father wounded through the Son:
   The world abused, and souls undone.
3 See the short course of vain delight
   Closing in everlasting night:
   In flames that no abatement know,
   Though briny tears for ever flow.
4 My God, I feel the mournful scene;
   My bowels yearn o’er dying men;
   And fain my pity would reclaim.
   And snatch the firebrands from the flame.
5 But feeble my compassion proves,
   And can but weep where most it loves;
   Thy own all saving arm employ,
   And turn these drops of grief to joy.
                     Philip Doddridge, 1755.


Public Worship, Revivals and Missions
957 — Revival Sought
1 Revive thy work, oh Lord,
      Thy mighty arm make bare;
   Speak with the voice that wakes the dead,
      And make thy people hear.
2 Revive thy work, oh Lord,
      Disturb this sleep of death,
   Quicken the smouldering embers now,
      By thine almighty breath.
3 Revive thy work, oh Lord,
      Create soul-thirst for thee,
   And hungering for the bread of life,
      Oh may our spirits be!
4 Revive thy work, oh Lord,
      Exalt thy precious name;
   And, by the Holy Ghost, our love
      For thee and thine inflame.
5 Revive thy work, oh Lord,
      And give refreshing showers,
   The glory shall be all thine own,
      The blessing, Lord, be ours.
                        Albert Midlane, 1861.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

Terms of Use

Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

Spurgeon Sermon Updates

Email me when new sermons are posted:

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Learn more

  • Customer Service 800.778.3390