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

“And the Lord said unto 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.”

I am first returning to this saying of the Lord to explain it more fully. As I stated, this saying of God has reference to the whole nation including the Israel according to the election. For, as was stated, in this saying the entire nation and Moses appear side by side as excluding the one the other. “That I may consume them,” says the Lord, “and make of thee a great nation.” But the Lord cannot destroy his elect.

But how then, it was asked, can he say, even as much as say, that he will do just that.

Fact is, as was stated, that the Lord said no such thing. For then He would have expressed Himself as follows: “Let me alone, for I am determined that my wrath wax hot against them, that I may destroy them.” Had the Lord said this, it would not have been allowable for Moses to intercede for the people, for then he would have been praying in opposition to the Lord’s counsel. The Lord’s expressing Himself as he did, Moses clearly perceived in the light of his aware­ness that the Lord could not destroy His people for reasons that he—Moses—enumerates in his prayer, that the Lord was challenging him to intercede for the people. Thus he understood, did Moses, that what the Lord was actually saying to him 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, but which I nevertheless must do, if thou Moses intercede not for them,” or in the language of the New Testament Scriptures (Moses in his inter­cession 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, if Thou, the Christ, Mine only be­. gotten, atone not 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 sin and intercede for them.”

The Lord could not destroy His people—the Israel according to the election. Of this, as was stated, Moses was also fully aware. For he enumerates the reasons in his intercession. Israel was His, the Lord’s people. He had brought them forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand. Again in the language of the New Testament Scrip­tures, He had redeemed them from all their sins through Christ’s blood. Should He now consume this people, He would give occasion to the Egyptians—in the final instance, Satan and all his host including the world that lies in darkness—to blaspheme God. For they would say that in bringing them out He was activated by the evil purpose to slay them and to con­sume them from the face of the earth. And then this, too, He had sworn to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, His servants—yea, He had sworn to His servant, the Christ, His only begotten Son, that He would multiply His seed as the stars of heaven, and to give Him and His seed all this land—again in the final instance the new earth.

How impossible for the Lord to destroy His people, whom He foreknew in Christ. How far was the Lord, must He have been, from having determined and from saying in His wrath that He would destroy this peo­ple.

So to explain this saying of the Lord is not to read anything into it; it is simply to explain this Scripture in the light of its context, which in the final analysis is the whole of the Scriptures.

“If thou, Moses, intercede not for them . . .” We must not make of this “if” a condition and accordingly read: on the condition, Moses, that thou intercede for them.” For then we corrupt the word of God here. This ought to be crystal clear. If God spared and forgave His people on the condition of Moses’ praying for them, Moses’ prayer, his decision to intercede for the people, was the determining cause, of the Lord’s sparing and forgiving them. For that is the proper meaning of condition, namely determining cause.

But Moses’ prayer was not the determining cause of God’s sparing His people. How could it be, seeing that Moses, that Christ, as to His human nature, was God’s creation and as such His gift to His people, and if therefore also his intercession was the fruit of the operation of God’s Spirit in him.

(to be continued)

G.M. Ophoff