Exodus 33:1
And the LORD said to Moses, Depart, and go up hence, you and the people which you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, To your seed will I give it:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXXIII.

THE HUMILIATION OF THE PEOPLE AT THE THREAT OF GOD’S WITHDRAWAL.

(1-6) If God consented at all to renew His covenant with the people, after they had so flagrantly broken it, the terms on which He would renew it were, in strict justice, purely optional. In the “Book of the Covenant” He had promised to go up with them by an Angel, in whom was His Name (Exodus 23:20-23): i.e., by His Son, the Second Person in the Holy Trinity. He now, to mark His displeasure, withdrew this promise, and substituted for the Divine presence that of a mere angel. “I will send an angel before thee” (Exodus 33:2); “I will not go up in the midst of thee” (Exodus 33:3). Dimly the people felt the importance of the change, the vast difference between the angelic and the Divine, and “mourned” their loss (Exodus 33:4). mourned with some touch of real godly sorrow, and, as was the custom of the Orientals in mourning (Terent. Heaut. ii. 3, 47; Herodian. iv. 2, &c.), “put off their ornaments.”

(1) The Lord said unto Moses.—In continuation and explanation of the words recorded in Exodus 32:33-34, but probably at another time, after Moses had once more descended from the Ras Sufsafeh to the plain at its base.

The land which I sware unto Abraham . . . —The misconduct of Israel in their worship of the calf would not annul the promises of God to the patriarchs. These He was bound to make good. “The Lord sware, and will not repent” (Psalm 110:4).

Exodus 33:1. Go up hence, thou and the people — God here seems to disown them, and calls them no more his people, because of their perfidiousness and idolatry.33:1-6 Those whom God pardons, must be made to know what their sin deserved. Let them go forward as they are; this was very expressive of God's displeasure. Though he promises to make good his covenant with Abraham, in giving them Canaan, yet he denies them the tokens of his presence they had been blessed with. The people mourned for their sin. Of all the bitter fruits and consequences of sin, true penitents most lament, and dread most, God's departure from them. Canaan itself would be no pleasant land without the Lord's presence. Those who parted with ornaments to maintain sin, could do no less than lay aside ornaments, in token of sorrow and shame for it.Mine Angel shall go before thee - See the marginal references and Genesis 12:7.

In the day when I visit ... - Compare Numbers 14:22-24. But though the Lord chastized the individuals, He did not take His blessing from the nation.

CHAPTER 33

Ex 33:1-23. The Lord Refuses to Go with the People.

1. the Lord said—rather "had" said unto Moses. The conference detailed in this chapter must be considered as having occurred prior to the pathetic intercession of Moses, recorded at the close of the preceding chapter; and the historian, having mentioned the fact of his earnest and painful anxiety, under the overwhelming pressure of which he poured forth that intercessory prayer for his apostate countrymen, now enters on a detailed account of the circumstances.God refuseth to go with the people as formerly, Exodus 33:1-3. The people mourn, Exodus 33:4. God’s command what to say to the children of Israel, Exodus 33:5. They mourn, and lay by their ornaments, Exodus 33:6. Moses pitcheth the tabernacle without the camp, Exodus 33:7; and going in, God speaks to him, Exodus 33:8,9. A cloudy pillar descendeth on it, Exodus 33:10. God speaks to Moses face to face, Exodus 33:11. He prays for his guidance and presence, Exodus 33:12-16. God promises him, Exodus 33:14,17; proclaims his name, Exodus 33:19. His face can be seen by no man, Exodus 33:20-23.

No text from Poole on this verse.

And the Lord said unto Moses, depart, and go up hence,.... Not from the place where Moses was, which was the top of the mount, but where the camp of Israel was, at the bottom of the mount; where they had lain encamped some time, but were now ordered to proceed on their journey:

thou, and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt; though his wrath was in some measure mitigated, and he had so far forgave their sin, that he would not cut them off from being a people; yet still he does not call them his people, or own that he brought them out of Egypt, as he does in the preface to the commands they had now broke, as if they were not under his care and conduct; but speaks of them in a different manner, as a people that Moses had brought out from thence, and whom he orders to go on with:

unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, unto thy seed will I give it: meaning the land of Canaan, which as he had promised with an oath to their fathers to give it to them, he would faithfully observe it, though they were unworthy of such a favour.

And the LORD said unto Moses, Depart, and {a} go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it:

(a) The land of Canaan was surrounded by hills: so those who entered it, must go up by the hills.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. go up] into the high ground of Canaan. Cf. on Exodus 1:10.

which I sware, &c.] See the passages quoted on Exodus 32:13.

1–3. Jehovah commands Moses to lead the people on to Canaan, but refuses to go with them personally Himself.Verses 1-6. - THE THREAT OF GOD'S WITHDRAWAL, AND THE HUMILIATION OF THE PEOPLE. The intercession of Moses, and his offer to sacrifice himself for his people had obtained from God some great concessions, viz. -

1. That the people's lives should be spared (Exodus 32:14);

2. And that they should be led into Palestine (ibid. ver. 34) But a change had been introduced into the conditions under which the future journeys were to be made, somewhat obscurely indicated in the words - "Behold, mine angel shall go before thee" (ibid.) - which was now to be more distinctly set forth. "God's angel" may mean his Presence in the Person of his Son - as it appears to mean in Exodus 23:20-23 - or it may mean simply one of the created angelic host, which seems to be its sense in Exodus 32:34, and in ver. 2 of this chapter. By vers. 2 and 3 taken in combination it was rendered manifest, both to Moses and to the people (ver. 4), that they were threatened with the loss of God's actual presence and personal protection during the remainder of their wanderings, and would have, instead of it, the mere guidance and help of an angel in the inferior sense of the word. This was felt to be "evil tidings" and the people consequently "mourned" and "stripped themselves of their ornaments" (ver. 6). Real penitence at last entered their hearts, and led to self-abasement. Verse 1. The Lord said unto Moses. In continuation of what he had said in Exodus 32:33, 34, but possibly at another time; and with the object of fully explaining what had been meant in ver. 34. The land which I sware unto Abraham. See Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:15; Genesis 15:18, etc. After Moses had thus avenged the honour of the Lord upon the sinful nation, he returned the next day to Jehovah as a mediator, who is not a mediator of one (Galatians 3:20), that by the force of his intercession he might turn the divine wrath, which threatened destruction, into sparing grace and compassion, and that he might expiate the sin of the nation. He had received no assurance of mercy in reply to his first entreaty (Exodus 32:11-13). He therefore announced his intention to the people in these words: "Peradventure I can make an atonement for your sin." But to the Lord he said (Exodus 32:31, Exodus 32:32), "The sin of this people is a great sin; they have made themselves a god of gold," in opposition to the clear commandment in Exodus 20:23 : "and now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin, and if not, blot me out of the book that Thou hast written." The book which Jehovah has written is the book of life, or of the living (Psalm 69:29; Daniel 12:1). This expression is founded upon the custom of writing the names of the burgesses of a town or country in a burgess-list, whereby they are recognised as natives of the country, or citizens of the city, and all the privileges of citizenship are secured to them. The book of life contains the list of the righteous (Psalm 69:29), and ensures to those whose names are written there, life before God, first in the earthly kingdom of God, and then eternal life also, according to the knowledge of salvation, which keeps pace with the progress of divine revelation, e.g., in the New Testament, where the heirs of eternal life are found written in the book of life (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 13:8, etc.), - an advance for which the way was already prepared by Isaiah 4:3 and Daniel 12:1. To blot out of Jehovah's book, therefore, is to cut off from fellowship with the living God, or from the kingdom of those who live before God, and to deliver over to death. As a true mediator of his people, Moses was ready to stake his own life for the deliverance of the nation, and not to live before God himself, if Jehovah did not forgive the people their sin. These words of Moses were the strongest expression of devoted, self-sacrificing love. And they were just as deep and true as the wish expressed by the Apostle Paul in Romans 9:3, that he might be accursed from Christ for the sake of his brethren according to the flesh. Bengel compares this wish of the apostle to the prayer of Moses, and says with regard to this unbounded fulness of love, "It is not easy to estimate the measure of love in a Moses and a Paul; for the narrow boundary of our reasoning powers does not comprehend it, as the little child is unable to comprehend the courage of warlike heroes" (Eng. Tr.). The infinite love of God is unable to withstand the importunity of such love. God, who is holy love, cannot sacrifice the righteous and good for the unrighteous and guilty, nor can He refuse the mediatorial intercession of His faithful servant, so long as the sinful nation has not filled up the measure of its guilt, in which case even the intercession of a Moses and a Samuel would not be able to avert the judgment (Jeremiah 15:1, cf. Ezekiel 14:16). Hence, although Jehovah puts back the wish and prayer of Moses with the words, "Whoever (אשׁר מי, both here and in 2 Samuel 20:11, is more emphatic than either one or the other alone) has sinned, him will I blot out of My book," He yields to the entreaty that He will ensure to Moses the continuance of the nation under His guidance, and under the protection of His angel, which shall go before it (see at Exodus 33:2-3), and defer the punishment of their sin until the day of His visitation.
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