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Moses and the 10 Commandments

Exodus 32-34



Exodus 32:19
And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.

Exodus 32:22-24
22 And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. 23 For they said unto 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 wot not what is become of him. 24 And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.

‘...there came out this calf.’  That’s got to be the all time lamest excuse from an assistant Pastor!


While Moses is up on the mountain receiving the commandments, the people are below breaking them.


The Children of Israel Corrupted


1.     Aaron’s Apostasy.

v. 1-6       The people are restless in the absence of their leader.  But their faithfulness needs to be to God, not to the man Moses.  Don’t put man on a pedestal...which is for flowers and vases.  Up on a pedestal there’s only one way for me to fall, and that’s down.


It’s no excuse that they forgot Moses, because they also forgot God.

Psalms 106:21
They forgat God their saviour, which had done great things in Egypt;

This wasn’t just a national rebellion against Moses, but against God.  Isn’t that a good picture of America today?


Aaron caves in to the whims of the people.  He’s the leadership left in charge, but he’s no longer leading, he’s following.  It seems to me that a lot of church leaders today are caving in to the desires of carnal people.  One of the marks of the last days is people flocking to teachers and leaders who will tickle their ears, not step on their toes.  Sometimes I get a kick in the pants that I need at church.


Ill.—I heard of a church sign that read, ‘come on in, we promise not to throw the book at you!’  [We don’t make that promise.]


The Bible is a mirror that tells us the truth about ourselves so we can make any necessary adjustments.


These commandments we’ve studied do something uncommon:  they name sin.  It’s not just an affair, it’s adultery, it’s sin!  Kids disobeying isn’t just a ‘stage’ they are in, it’s sin!


Aaron fashioned this golden calf.  Why a calf?  They had just come from Egypt, where they worshipped the sacred bull.  Then he does something even more foolish, and builds an altar to the Lord in front of it.

v. 5-6       He’s making the same mistake many make today, trying to combine exact opposites...trying to reconcile the Lord and the world, worship and play, and be a more hip and popular leader.  With one foot in Egypt and another in the Promised Land, he is trying to serve two masters, which simply cannot be done.


Don’t ride the fence, trying to have it both ways.  “How long halt ye between 2 opinions?”  Jesus said, I wish you were either cold or hot, but you’re lukewarm, and you make me sick.  Either get on or get off, get in or get out, get up or get down.  [the people were getting down!]  There’s no middle ground, you’re either for Him or against Him!


You’ve heard the saying that you can take the boy out of the country but not the country out of the boy?  The children of Israel had been taken out of Egypt, but Egypt had not yet been taken out of them.  The same is true for some of us.


Israel is now living in open idolatry, and idolatry always leads to immorality.  When v. 6 says they rose up to play, it wasn’t Parcheesi or checkers.  The word ‘play’ is a sexual term...speaking of an orgy.  V. 19 tells of dancing, which was erotic and immoral in nature.  By v. 25 they are all naked.  What a slippery slope they were on, just following their leader, backslidden Aaron.


2.     God’s Anger.

v. 7-10     It’s a death sentence.  God intends to kill them all and start over with Moses. 


It’s kind of humorous, because in v. 7 God refers to Israel as ‘thy’ people.  Now look at v. 11, where Moses says, ‘no they’re your people!’  Ever done that w/ your kids?  My wife says, look what your son has done!


Years ago I got to meet Moses and I feel like I know him pretty well!


God’s offer to Moses had to be tempting.  A lot of men would have taken that chance.  Many quit and start over today, but not Moses.  He was the meekest of men...and he loved these people.  He had a true pastor’s heart.  The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.


3.     Moses’ Appeal.

v. 11-14   ‘God repented’ doesn’t mean He turned from sin, but simply changed His mind.  Prayer changes things.  Prayer moves the hand that moves the world.

Ill.—Hezekiah was going to die, but in response to prayer God changed His mind and gave him 15 more years.  Hannah was barren, but in response to prayer God changed His mind and gave her a child.


Moses gave God two reasons in his prayer, but I don’t think God changed because of the case Moses laid out, which wasn’t really strong.  It didn’t matter what the Egyptians think.  What mattered was not what Moses prayed, but how he prayed it.  And the same is true for us today.  Pray from the heart and you’ll touch the heart of God.  Pray from the mouth and you may impress man...but only man.  Water your prayers with some tears and something big will grow out of it!


Exodus 32:32
Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.

The dash in that verse is likely a pause, a speechless moment, perhaps a moment of tears.  And tears are a language God understands.

Romans 8:26
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

A touching example is found in Mark 9, where a little boy was plagued by a disturbing problem...

Mark 9:20-25
20 And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. 21 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. 23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. 25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.

I see in that father sincerity, tears, and a simple prayer.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, just heart felt.  Later we see that fasting also has a profound effect on our prayers.  All of this tells me we need to put some passion into our prayers!


Exodus 33


[read vv. 1-3, 13; ch. 34:29-35]

God actually gave 3 things to Moses on Mt. Sinai:

  • The 10 Commandments—the revelation of God’s Law.
  • The Book of the Covenant—the regulation of God’s Law.
  • The plans for the Tabernacle—our next study in this book.


The Book of the Covenant [Ex. 24:7] took the 10 commandments and applied them to everyday life for the Hebrew nation.  It was a list of 70 regulations inc. such things as how to make restitution for stolen property, capital punishment, rules for lending money, how to treat widows and orphans, etc.  We aren’t going to study this, but you can read it. [Ex. 20:22-24:4]  As you do, remember the cultural atmosphere of that day was different.  Also, remember that there is a progressive revelation throughout the Word of God.  Today all those regulations culminate in the great commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.


Next came a detailed pattern for the tabernacle.  And everything about this study is a beautiful picture of Christ and what He came to do.


In Exodus 32 the people are guilty of idolatry and immorality even as Moses is returning with the commandments, and the result is:


1.     Fellowship Removed

v. 1-3       God’s absence is the worst form of discipline a person can receive.  Hell is separation from God, not annihilation.  The former is even worse than the latter.  And God’s presence will be what makes heaven the best place beyond imagination!


“Jesus will be what makes it heaven for me!”


This removal of God’s presence is a judgment to Israel.

  • In Eden it was sin that withdrew God’s presence from Adam.
  • In I Sam. 28 it was sin that withdrew God’s presence from King Saul.
  • It was sin that caused God to hide His face from David, and he needed the ‘joy’ of his salvation restored.
  • And the sins of the world laid on Jesus on the cross caused God to turn His back on His own Son, and Jesus cried out at being forsaken from God’s presence!


If you feel distant from God know this:  it is sin that comes between you and Him, but close fellowship is not far off if you desire it!


What a terrible thing for Israel to be alone in the wilderness without God!

Ephesians 2:12
That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:


2.     Fellowship Restored

v. 4-6       The ornaments they had to put off were representative of the old life in Egypt.  It’s not always true that the outside of a person is indicative of the heart.  Sometimes good people are sucked in to worldly fads and fashions and trends.  Some just need to be taught better.  But often the outward signs are rooted in an inward rebellion.


God wants us to be different, first on the inside, but then as an outward testimony.  We need to have a distinction, a separation from the world, that others may see the difference and want the deep down change for themselves!


God says, ok take that junk off, if your heart is truly right w/ it!

Ill.—some who came to John for baptism were told, if you are serious, show some fruits of repentance, and then come back and I’ll baptize you!  That baptism was a beautiful picture of the difference Christ makes as your old sins are buried and you arise to walk in newness of life!


v. 7  This is not the tabernacle we’ll study in detail, but just a temporary arrangement, likely Moses’ own personal tent.  But the camp has been polluted, tainted by their sin.  God said for them to meet Him outside the camp.

Hebrews 13:11-13
11 For the bodies of those beasts…are burned without the camp. 12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

Moses went inside that tabernacle and the glory cloud came down, and God met with him.  Moses mentions grace 4 times, and asks for it.


“We don’t want to go any further without your presence, Lord!”


And we should say, Amen Bro. Moses!  We don’t want to take any steps in this world w/out the presence of God.


v. 17        It’s only by God’s grace that this is possible.








Fellowship has been restored, now...


3.     Glory Revealed.

God’s grace leads to glory.  That which begins in grace winds up in glory!

Psalms 84:11
For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory:

When I was saved by grace my name was written down in glory!


v. 18-23   The shining!  God says, here’s what I’ll do, I’ll give you a glimpse of me that you can handle with human eyes.


No man hath seen God at any time, physically speaking, but what Moses saw a glimpse of in passing, we have seen in fullness with spiritual eyes in Jesus Christ!

John 1:14
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

2 Corinthians 4:6
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

His glory was veiled in human flesh while He walked the earth...but there was that one time when He took Peter, James, and John to the Mount of Transfiguration, and though they fell asleep, they awoke and saw Jesus transfigured ... all His glory from the inside shown on the outside.  His face was like the sun and his garments like snow!


40 days after He resurrected from the dead the glory cloud came down and took the glorified Christ back to glory for a glorious celebration, and He’s coming back the same way!


No wonder Moses’ face shined after catching a glimpse of God.  He had experienced grace!  Have you?  It will take you on a magical trip of a limetime, of eternity!  From guilt to grace to glory!

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