|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
32:30-35 Moses calls it a great sin. The work of ministers is to show people the greatness of their sins. The great evil of sin appears in the price of pardon. Moses pleads with God for mercy; he came not to make excuses, but to make atonement. We are not to suppose that Moses means that he would be willing to perish for ever, for the people's sake. We are to love our neighbour as ourselves, and not more than ourselves. But having that mind which was in Christ, he was willing to lay down his life in the most painful manner, if he might thereby preserve the people. Moses could not wholly turn away the wrath of God; which shows that the law of Moses was not able to reconcile men to God, and to perfect our peace with him. In Christ alone, God so pardons sin as to remember it no more. From this history we see, that no unhumbled, carnal heart, can long endure the holy precepts, the humbling truths, and the spiritual worship of God. But a god, a priest, a worship, a doctrine, and a sacrifice, suited to the carnal mind, will ever meet with abundance of worshippers. The very gospel itself may be so perverted as to suit a worldly taste. Well is it for us, that the Prophet like unto Moses, but who is beyond compare more powerful and merciful, has made atonement for our souls, and now intercedes in our behalf. Let us rejoice in his grace.
Verses 30-35. - MOSES ONCE MORE INTERCEDES WITH GOD FOR THE PEOPLE - GOD ANSWERS HIM. No distinct reply seems to have been given to the previous intercession of Moses (vers. 11-13). He only knew that the people were not as yet consumed, and therefore that God's wrath was at any rate held in suspense. It might be that the punishment inflicted on the 3000 had appeased God's wrath: or something more might be needed. In the latter case, Moses was ready to sacrifice himself for his nation (ver. 32). Like St. Paul, he elects to be "accursed from God, for his brethren, his kinsfolk after the flesh" (Romans 9:3). But God will not have this sacrifice. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4). He declares, "Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book" (Exodus 32:33). Moses shall not make himself a victim. Without any such sacrifice, God will so far spare them, that they shall still go on their way towards the promised land, with Moses as their earthly, and an Angel as their heavenly leader. Only, their sin shall still be visited in God's own good time and in his own way. How, is left in obscurity; but the decree is issued - "In the day that I visit, I will visit their sin upon them" (ver. 34). And, writing long years after the event, the author observes - "And God did plague the people because they made the calf which Aaron made" (ver. 35). Verse 30. - On the morrow. The day must have been well-nigh over when the slaughter of the 3000 was completed: and after that the corpses had to be buried, the signs of carnage to be effaced, and the wounded, of whom there must have been many, cared for. Moses would have had to direct, if not even to superintend, everything, and therefore could not reascend Sinai until the next day. Moses said unto the people, Not now to the elders only, as in Exodus 24:14, but to all the people, since all had sinned, and. each man is held by God individually responsible for his own sin. Ye have sinned a great sin. One which combined ingratitude and falseness with impiety. Peradventure I shall make an atonement. Moses has formed the design, which he executes (ver. 32); but will not reveal it to the people, from modesty probably.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And it came to pass on the morrow,.... The eighteenth day of Tammuz it was, the same writers say, that Moses implored the mercy of God for Israel. Jarchi on Exodus 32:11 says it was on the seventeenth day the tables were broke, on the eighteenth the calf was burnt, and on the nineteenth that Moses went up to intercede for them:
that Moses said unto the people, ye have sinned a great sin; the sin of idolatry, see Exodus 32:21 from whence it appears, that all that were guilty of it were not slain, perhaps only some of one tribe; and there was great reason to fear, that as wrath was gone forth it would not stop here, but others would fall a sacrifice to the divine displeasure; wherefore it is proposed by Moses to make application to the Lord on their behalf, that they might obtain mercy:
and I will go up unto the Lord: on the top of Mount Sinai:
peradventure I shall make atonement for your sin; not by any sacrifice offered, but by his prayers prevail with God to forgive their sin, and not punish any more for it: he had by his first prayer obtained of the Lord not to consume them off of the face of the earth, and utterly destroy them as a nation; but that he did not hinder but that resentment might be shown in a lesser degree, or by parts; as not 3000 men had been cut off, chiefly out of one tribe, if not altogether, the rest of the tribes might expect to be visited, according to the number of their delinquents.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
30-33. Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin—Moses labored to show the people the heinous nature of their sin, and to bring them to repentance. But not content with that, he hastened more earnestly to intercede for them.
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