Our Need for a Mediator
Open Your Bible
Exodus 32:1-14, Exodus 32:30-35, Acts 7:37-43, Jeremiah 31:31-34
BY Erin Davis
Let’s face it, when the Lord called the Israelites “stiff-necked,” He was being kind.
On their best days, they were whiney, rebellious, fearful, and contentious. And this particular day we’re reading about was definitely not one of their best.
With metal they’d pillaged from their enemies (Exodus 12:35), they fashioned a statue of a calf and convinced themselves that the idol was the Lord Himself, the one who had delivered them from slavery in Egypt.
It’s okay to shake your head. Their error was preposterous. In hindsight, I suppose it’s obvious that rebellion against a loving and sovereign God always is. No wonder God declared, “Now leave me alone, so that my anger can burn against them and I can destroy them” (32:10).
This was the nation that had seen God send plagues to torment their oppressors. These were the ones who had walked across the Red Sea on dry ground. These were God’s chosen people, those who had tasted the manna He’d rained from heaven. And still, as soon as their leader was out of earshot, they turned their adoration toward a weaker god—one who could never save them. God’s wrath was surely justified.
God is holy.
His people were unholy.
He is generous.
They were greedy.
He is faithful.
They were faithless.
He showcased His power.
They bowed before a powerless statue instead.
We’ve all bowed before the wrong altars. Who will plead our cause? We cannot shake our sin nature. Who will defend our case? We are the rebellious children of a holy, holy, holy God. Who will stay His hand?
This moment in Israel’s history allows us to peek at the glory of the gospel. In pleading with the Lord to spare the Israelites, Moses was pointing forward to Christ, who right now—right this very minute—is our advocate, standing between our sin and the punishment we rightly deserve (Romans 8:34). We remain God’s beloved, yet rebellious, children—our hearts ever turning toward all that glitters. Even so, God’s wrath is stayed because there is One who pleads for us even now.