I was meditating today about the whole point and message of the death and resurrection of Christ. Have you ever thought about what it means? Or why Christ died for sinners? How can the whole idea of atonement (two parties being brought together) be so linked to sacrifice?
My mind went back to a passage I was reading in Exodus 32 last week when I was super early for a bible study and hungrily wanting to see something precious in the Word. I read about how the Israelites made the Golden calf while Moses and Joshua were away from the camp.
God had called Moses up to Mount Sinai to hear from Him and to receive the commandments and instructions for the people. Moses was gone for a whole 40 days! The people started getting anxious… I think we do that as well, when we don’t here from God, or at least don’t hear what we want to or when we want to. Verse 1 records, “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain…” That’s the start; in this situation the people were not keen on the timing. So they come up with the master plan; since God is taking so long let’s sought it out ourselves, “the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” This is a rather interesting statement, ‘Moses brought us out of Egypt, but wow, we are not sure if this guy survived being on a mountain (notice they say Moses brought them, not God, interesting change of main character in their mind, perhaps it makes there forming of an idol easier on the conscience).
Anyway Aaron makes the idol, the infamous golden calf, and when Moses comes down, as if to detach himself from guilt says, ““Do not let the anger of my lord burn; you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil. “For they said to me, ‘Make a god for us who will go before us; for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him. said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf (v22-24)”. Shame poor Aaron, this calf just came out the fire (maybe he was the first guy to postulate some kind of spontaneous generation).
Anyway, the story is really interesting and I encourage you to read it, but I want to point out what happens at the end. God decides to destroy the Israelites for this sin, and this is too much for Moses to bear, he says to the children of Israel, “, “You yourselves have committed a great sin; and now I am going up to the Lord, perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” A frightening word to put with the word ‘atonement’ is perhaps… Moses is going to go see if perhaps he can make atonement for the people. Off He goes… I can’t imagine what he must have been thinking; I mean what do you say to a holy God? Well, in his foolishness and human wisdom he kind of tries to black mail God and says,” “Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. But now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!” Basically he says, ‘God if you don’t keep these people, then don’t keep me.’ Praise God for His mercy, he ignores Moses statement (praise God for unanswered prayer right!) and replies, ““Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. But go now, lead the people where I told you. Behold, My angel shall go before you; nevertheless in the day when I punish, I will punish them for their sin. Then the Lord smote the people, because of what they did with the calf which Aaron had made.”
Moses could not make atonement for the people! He failed in this sense, and again how could he? By threatening God? Or trying some blackmail, ‘God if you don’t save the people, than I don’t wanna be part of this thing anymore either!’
I see this happening on good Friday again. Christ goes up the mount of Golgotha to see if perhaps He can make Atonement for His people, only difference, is the word ‘perhaps’ is gone. As Jesus cries, “Father, Father, why have you forsaken me” the one who knew no sin, the ‘Son of man’ was blotted out of God’s book so to speak. How can it be? It can be because Jesus became the substitute for the people, He made actual real living atonement… If I may have the liberty to try bring this across by rephrasing the last verse of Exodus 32 in light of the crucifixion, “Then the LORD smote Christ, because of what sinners did with idols which their hearts had made”
2 Corinthians 5:21 tells the story, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Guilty vile and helpless we.
Spotless lamb of God was He.
Full atonement can it be?!
Hallelujah! What a Saviour.