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As was stated, God’s people had corrupted them­selves. They had turned quickly aside out of the way which the Lord had commanded them. They had made a molten calf and worshipped it, and sacrificed there­unto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. Ex. 31:7, 8.

And the Lord was wroth. He said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold it is a stiff-necked people; now therefore, let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them and I will make of thee a great nation.”

As I stated, these words of the Lord had reference to the whole nation including the Israel according to the election. For, as was pointed out, in these words of the Lord the entire nation and Moses appear side by side as excluding the one the other. “That I may consume them,” said the Lord, “and make of thee a great nation.”

But the Lord cannot destroy His people. And therefore, as was explained, what the Lord was actu­ally saying to Moses is this: “Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them, which I cannot do, they being my people, but which I nevertheless must do, except thou Moses intercede for them,” or in the lan­guage of the New Testament Scriptures (Moses typi­fied Christ) “Now therefore, let Me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may con­sume them, which, however, I cannot possibly do, but which I must nevertheless do, I being righteous and holy God, except Thou, the Christ, Mine only begot­ten, atone for their sins by Thy suffering and death on the cross, and on the ground of Thy atonement everlastingly intercede for them. Therefore, atone Thou for their sins and intercede for them.

And Moses did intercede for the people. And in his intercession he enumerated all the reasons why the Lord could not possibly destroy His people.

And then we read, “And the Lord repented of the evil which he said that he would do unto His people,” ‘if Moses had not prayed for them,’ that is, what the Lord said that He would do unto His people—con­sume them—if He had not raised up Moses, if He had not raised up Christ to atone their sins and to inter­cede for them on the ground of His atonement, griev­ed Him. For that people was the object of His eter­nal love in Christ. Hence, the idea—such is the mean­ing—of destroying that people was abhorrent to Him, For such is the repentance of God. It is not remorse. It is not change of mind and plan as is the repentance of man. But it is grief, here His sovereign deter­mination to be grieved by the idea of His consuming His people and thus to be delighted by the idea of His saving them in Christ.

The Lord repented . . . . But as was pointed out, He refrained from telling Moses that He had repented and would spare and forgive His ill-deserving and condemnable people. It means that as far as Moses knew, his intercession went unanswered. It was therefore with a burdened soul that he left the Lord’s presence. Again in the camp among the people, his first act was, as we saw, to send the sword among the apostates, and there fell of the people three thousand men.

As was stated, Moses had besought the Lord to turn from His fierce wrath. But there had been no answer. To be forgiven, sin must be atoned. Moses understood. So on the morrow he returned to the Lord and offered himself as an atonement for the sins of the people. “Blot me, I pray Thee, out of the book which Thou hast written,” were his words. But the Lord returned answer: “Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book.” And though He next bade Moses to lead the people unto the promised land, and said that His angel would go before Moses, He also let it be known that in the day that He would visit, He would visit their sins upon them.

The Lord’s doings continued ominous. He plagued the people because of their sins. And though He again commanded Moses to depart and go up hence, he and his people, unto the land which He, the Lord, had sworn unto Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and though He repeated His promise to send an angel be­fore Moses to drive out the Canaanites—yet He also let it be known that He would not go up in the midst of them, and giving as His reason that “thou art a stiff-necked people: lest I consume thee in the way.”

The Lord now did as He had threatened. He and His Angel (the two were essentially one) took up their residence in a place far removed from the camp, that is, where Moses, as commanded by the Lord, pitched the tabernacle. He pitched it without the camp, afar from the camp, and called it the taber­nacle of the congregation. And here the Lord now communed with Moses. And here, too, he received the penitent among the people.

By this doing specially the Lord made it clear that in His heart he had forgiven His people, definitely the penitent among them. Moses therefore continued his intercession.

To all appearance the Lord—He and His angel—was to go before His people, but was not intending to go up in their midst. Moses therefore said to the Lord, “See, Thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: but Thou hast not let me know whom Thou wilt send with me,” ‘as my companion by my side,’ he meant. It is clear from the sequel that Moses’ complaint was really a request that the Lord and His Angel return to him and his people and dwell in their midst as of yore. As it was, He had separated Him­self from His people and was dwelling at a great dis­tance from them. This to Moses was inexplicable and at once intolerable. For had not the Lord said that He knew him by name, him and his people, and that he had found grace in His sight? How then could the Lord be holding them both at arm’s length as He was apparently now doing?

And therefore Moses continues: “Yet Thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast found grace in my sight,” (‘thou and thy people,’ the Lord meant). Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now Thy way, that I may know Thee, that I may find grace in Thy sight; and consider that this nation is thy people.”

“If I have found grace in Thy sight, shew me now Thy way.” Implied in this request is the unexpres­sed petition, “Return to us, O Lord, and again go up in our midst,” so that we must read here, “If I (and Thy people) have found grace in Thy sight, (as Thou sayest), return to us, and shew me Thy way, that I may know Thee.”

Moses’ request, it is plain, is twofold. For it is not enough for him that the Lord again make up His abode in their midst. That would prove disastrous for his sinful people, should not the Lord also turn from His fierce wrath. So his petition is also and es­pecially that the Lord show him His way with them, reveal that this way is one of love and salvation and not of doom and destruction. “That I may know Thee.” The Lord’s way with His people being one of forgiving love and salvation, it follows that to see and to know this way is to see and to know the Lord, know Him in the face of Christ, Who, being the truth and the life, is the way.

The Lord gave answer. He said to Moses for the benefit of the penitent among the people: “My pre­sence (that is, My face) shall go with thee, and I wiil give thee rest.” In a word, “I will return and give thee and My people rest, in the final instance, the rest of the new earth, where God’s tabernacle will be with men.”

But Moses was not satisfied. His awareness of the necessity of the Lord’s going up in their midst was that lively that he could not allow the matter to rest here. So he said to the Lord, “If Thy presence (face) go not with us—in our midst—carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight? Is it not that Thou goest with us? So—if Thou goest with us—we shall be separated, I and Thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.”

The glory of God’s people is exactly that the Lord is in their midst as the God of their salvation in Christ Jesus.

The Lord replied, “I will—will indeed—do this thing also that thou hast spoken; for thou—thou and thus thy people—have found grace in my sight.” Moses in his intercession typified Christ, so that the truth to be drawn out of these words of the Lord is that His mercy is upon Christ and through Christ and for Christ’s sake upon His people.

Still Moses was pot satisfied. The vital part of his petition that the Lord show him His way that he might know Him, still went unanswered. So he again prayed, “shew me Thy glory,” “Thy mercy and grace with regard to Thy sinful people.” It was but an­other way of saying, “Show me Thy way,” “supply me with the tangible evidence of Thy forgiving love for Thy ill-deserving people and of me.”

The Lord replies to His servant, “I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.”

“I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” This is the expression of absolute freedom of choice peculiar to God alone. And implied is that He will not have mercy on all. Some He will harden again solely because He wills.

And so He will indeed return but in love only of some and accordingly in hatred of the others, whom He will harden and destroy in His wrath when their measure of iniquity is full. This will be His way with some, and that will be His way with the others. And the two ways in combination is His glory, the reve­lation of His name, of all His goodness, of the total of the virtues of His invisible being, of His love as operative in the salvation of His elect and of His hatred of sin as operative in the damnation of the rep­robated.

These things Moses had to understand. He had to be made to perceive that all is not Israel that is of Israel, but that the children of the promise are coun­ted for the seed, and that on this Israel alone God will have mercy.

But Moses had asked the Lord that He shew him His glory. This the Lord now promises also to do. He will make all His goodness to pass before Moses. He will make to pass before Moses the Angel (the pil­lar of cloud), and in the face of this cloud—in the face of the angel, who is Christ—Moses will behold all God’s goodness as reflected gloriously in this face, the face of the angel.

Besides, from out of that cloud will come a voice, the voice of the triune Jehovah and of Christ—pro­claiming the name of the Lord before Moses.

But the Lord said to Moses, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see Me and live.” Doubtless what is meant here is the effulgence of God’s glories in which God alone dwells and can dwell, and accordingly the light unto which no man can ap­proach. It is only the “back parts” of this “light,” the creatural revelation of God in the face of the Son of God incarnate, here preindicated by the Angel, the pillar of cloud, that Moses can see and live.

And so the Lord says to Moses, “Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock; and it shall come to pass while My glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cliff of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand, and thou shalt see My back parts; but My face shall not be seen.”

As the Lord’s doing, what He here said, will be the act whereby He will renew the covenant that had been trampled by the people, Moses must hew him two tables of stone like unto the first, that the Lord may write upon them the words that were in the first table that Moses had broken. The Lord further instructs Moses to be ready in the morning to come up unto mount Sinai and present him there to the Lord in the top of the mount. But no man shall come up with him. Neither shall any man be seen throughout all the mount. Neither shall the flocks and herds be al­lowed to feed before the mount.

Moses did as commanded. He hewed him two tables of stone and went up into the mount with the two tables in his hand. And the Lord did as He had said. He descended in the cloud and stood before Moses there, and proclaimed His own name—the name of the Lord. He said, “The Lord, the Lord God, mer­ciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and fourth gen­eration.”

So then, the Lord will keep mercy for thousands. Their sins and iniquities He will forgive. On the other hand, He will by no means clear the guilty. But their sins He will visit unto their children. It is char and it must certainly have been clear to Moses that the Lord was here speaking of two kinds of people.

In the law of the ten commandments the former people—the thousands for whom the Lord will keep mercy—are described as such who fear God. Yet, whereas the Lord will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, these favored ones in themselves are just as lost and undone as the others, just as depraved and worthy of condemnation, just as hard of heart and stiff of neck. That the Lord in His love never­theless forgave them and put His fear in their hearts, that was His glory.

And Moses now saw and heard the glory—the glo­ry of the Lord. For the Lord revealed it unto him. And he made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth and worshipped. And in the full assurance of faith, he completes his intercession. “If now I have found grace in Thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray Thee, go among us; for it is a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and sin, and take us for Thine inheritance.”

This can now be his prayer. For he had heard with his ear the Lord’s proclamation, “The Lord mer­ciful and gracious . . . forgiving iniquity.” And the Lord replied. He said, “And behold, I will make a covenant; before all the people I will do wonders, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any na­tion; and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the Lord: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee,”

As appears from the sequel the reference was in the first instance to the Lord’s driving out before His people the Canaanites by the sword of Joshua. Joshua’s victories were a new work indeed, a wonder of grace, never before seen and as such prophetic of the return of Christ to judge the quick and the dead in order that His little flock may receive the kingdom.

Moses had received a new vision of God and of His way with His people. The Lord will certainly forgive the great sin that was committed but only in some and not in all. But regarding the question just how sin was to be atoned, and by whom, Moses was as much in the dark as ever. On these questions the proclamation of the Lord had shed no light. That sin must be atoned in order to be forgiven and also will be atoned, Moses well knew. For that was the great lesson of the animal sacrifices, this lesson name­ly, that Zion should be redeemed with judgment and her coverts with righteousness.. That faith was his in common with all the saints of that day. And as standing in that faith they were saved.

G.M. Ophoff