October 6, 2019

Rev. Bernt P. Tweit



Epistle Lesson; 1 Timothy 1:112-17

Gospel Lesson; Luke 15:1-10

Sermon Text; Exodus 32:7-14


The portion of God's Word we look at for today is taken from Exodus, chapter thirty two, looking at verses seven through fourteen.  This is in Jesus' name.


The Lord spoke to Moses:  “Hurry down, because your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves!  They have quickly turned from the way which I commanded them.  They have made a calf for themselves out of metal and have worshiped it.  They have sacrificed to it and said, 'This is your god, Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt'”

The Lord said to Moses, 'I have seen these people, and they certainly are a stiff-necked people.  So now leave me alone, so that my anger can burn hot against them, so that I may consume them and make you into a great nation.”
Moses begged the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your anger burn against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?   Why should the Egyptians say, 'He brought them out for an evil purpose, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth'?  Turn back from your fierce anger and change your mind about inflicting disaster on your people.  Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self.  You said to them, 'I will multiply your seed like the stars of the sky, and I will give all this land that I have spoken about to your seed, and they shall inherit it forever.'”

Then the Lord changed His mind about the disaster which He said He would inflict on His people.


These are your words, Heavenly Father.  Lead us in the way of truth.  Your Word is truth.



Certainly the portion of scripture we are looking at is the golden calf from The Old Testament.  It is good to know what was happening earlier, in the book of Exodus.  It is all very familiar to us. 

-Exodus begins with the birth of Moses.  God raises up a deliverer, someone to deliver His people from the slavery that was taking place in Egypt. 

-Before our text are The Ten Plagues.  The Ten Plagues came upon Egypt.  Pharaoh now tells Moses, “Get your people out of here.  You are now free to go.”
-The Children of Israel are then wandering in the wilderness, when they come to Mt. Sinai. 

-In the twelve chapters before our text, part of it is God giving The Ten Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai. 

-Then, a good portion of it is God setting up worship in the tabernacle – what the tabernacle is to look like, what the furniture is to look like, how the Children of Israel are to worship the Lord, their God. 

And so, the events of our text take place on Mt. Sinai.  Moses is up on Mt. Sinai for forty days and for forty nights.  And, while Moses is gone, we are going to see what happens to the people.

Here is what I want us to see in our text for today.  I want us to see this conversation that is taking place between God and Moses.  I want you to see Moses as a mediator between God and His people. 

-The first verses of our text, verses seven through ten, are God speaking to Moses. 

-The next verses, verses eleven through thirteen, are Moses replying to God. 

-Then, we see the final response of the whole conversation in verse fourteen.

I want you to see Moses as 'a middle man'.  Just remember what 'a middle man' is.  Other words, or phrases are 'a go between', 'an intercessor', 'an arbitrator'.  He is in this position between God and His people. 

So, God begins this conversation.  Notice what it is God says.  Maybe I will use this to start.  Have you ever been really proud of your son, or your daughter.  You may say something like this.  “That's my daughter!”  “That's my boy!”  You show the pride you have in what they have done. 

Or, have you ever done this, because they have done something you wish they would not have done.  You say to your spouse, “I can't believe what that daughter of yours did!”  “I can't believe what that son of YOURS has done!”

Look at the conversation, and how it begins today.  It begins exactly that same way.  God is speaking to Moses and says, “...YOUR people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt...” “Look at what they have done.  I can't believe that.”

In this conversation God is also pretty strong with the language He uses in His conversation with Moses.  I am just going to pick out the verbs God uses.  Notice what He says.  He says things like this. 

-They have “corrupted themselves!” 

-“They have quickly turned from the way which I commanded them.” 

-“They have made a calf for themselves...” 

-They “have worshiped it.” 

-“They have sacrificed to it...” 

-”...they certainly are a stiff-necked people.” 

“Look at what those people of yours have done.”

Now remember what Moses was doing up on the mountain.  He was receiving The Ten Commandments from God.  God was inscribing them with His own finger on those two tablets of stone.  Moses had not yet shared The Ten Commandments with God's people, but they certainly knew them.  In their heart, they knew them.  The First Commandment is:  You shall have no other gods.  And, a clarifying statement to that is:  You shall not make an idol for yourself in the form of anything. 

While Moses is gone for those forty days, the people become impatient, we might say.  They make an idol out of gold that was melted down.  They make it into a calf.  When they had come from Egypt, that was the worship some of the Egyptians had done.  They had worshiped a calf made out of gold.  So, that is what they did.  They said, “It is this god who has brought us out of Egypt.” 

And, they were stiff-necked people.  Now, if you are ever to tell anybody they are stiff-necked, it doesn't mean they have a sore neck.  But, it means they are stubborn.  Here God was telling Moses his people were stiff-necked. 

Recently, I was teaching a Catechism class.  We were focusing on The Fourth Commandment.  I asked the students in my classroom, “What is The Fourth Commandment?”

They were quick to tell me, “Honor your father and your mother, that it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth.”
So, I asked them, “In your own words, what does that mean, as you think about your parents?”

Academically, they gave me a wonderful answer.  It was the correct answer.  They said, “We should respect our parents.  We should honor our parents.  We should listen to our parents.”
I looked at my watch.  It was 8:30 in the morning.  I said, “Raise your hand, if you have broken The Fourth Commandment today?”

Every single one of their hands went up, every single one.  I said, “How can this be?  You just told me what The Fourth Commandment is.  You know it, and yet how can you not keep it?”  Then, I thanked them for their honesty. 
They said things like, “I didn't listen to my mom, or my dad this morning.”  “I yelled at my mom, or dad this morning.” 

They knew what it said, The Fourth Commandment, and yet they all admitted they didn't keep it. 

The Children of Israel knew what The First Commandment was.  “You shall have no other gods.”  And yet, we see them in our text not carrying it out, not worshiping the true God of Israel, but instead worshiping a calf they had made out of gold, and saying, “It was this god who brought us out of Egypt.”

We too know what The First Commandment is.  “You shall have no other gods.”  And yet, as I look at my watch, and it is slightly after 9:00 in the morning.  (I am not going to ask you to raise your hand), but we would all have to raise our hands because we would all have to admit we have not kept The First Commandment today.  We have set up idols.  We have set up gods other than the true God of Israel.  The primary god we probably have placed up, including myself, is our self, or other people, or possessions, or power, or prestige.  We are no better than the Children of Israel in our text for today.  Even before 9:00 in the morning, we have set up, and we have worshiped false gods.

Because of their disobedience, God was getting ready to destroy all of The Children of Israel.  We see this phrase in our text for today.  God was getting ready to say, “Moses, I am going to raise up a people through you.  I am going to destroy The Children of Israel.  But, I am going to raise up a people through you.”
Notice Moses doesn't say, “Oh, that would be great, if they would come through me.”

Augustine, an early church father, once had this to say about this portion of scripture right here.  He is looking at Moses, and the position he is in.  He writes, “Moses makes intercession for them.  Or, Moses is a mediator to them.  He might not seem to have acted thus from necessity, rather than from love.  God offered Moses another people.  But, he did not accept it.  Moses cleaved to the sinners.  Moses prays for the sinners.” 

Now, note what Moses says to God, as he is in that position of mediator.  He now goes before God.  Look at what it says in verses eleven through thirteen. 

“Moses begged the Lord...” 

“Turn back from your fierce anger.  Change your mind, and remember your promises you have given to Abraham, and to Isaac, and to Israel, (or Jacob).”

Moses is in that position of being a mediator.  It is not in our text, but after our text, Moses goes a step farther than this, and he simply tells God,

“Please forgive their sin.” 

“Please forgive their sin, but if not, blot me out from the book you have written.  Don't take it out on them.  But, if you need to, take it out on me.”

Sometimes in our worship services you are to see this interplay between God, and His people carried out.  In a sense, the role of a pastor is playing that mediator.  There are times in a worship service in which God is speaking to you, through the mediator.  Think in terms of the scripture lessons that are read, the sermon that is preached, The Absolution that is distributed, the forgiveness that is given, The Benediction that is proclaimed.  The pastor is just acting like a mediator, and he is sharing what God wants His people to know. 

But, there are also times in a worship service when a pastor is going before the Lord on your behalf.  Again, he is acting as a mediator.  Think in terms of during the times of prayers, or during the times of thanksgiving.  The pastor is acting as a mediator between you and God.

And so now Moses, as he goes before the Lord, simply says this (this is after our text for today), when he says to the people,

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers.  You must listen to him.”  

As we see Moses in our text for today, and as we hear Moses say that, you should see Jesus.  Jesus is a mediator between you and the Father.  It is Jesus who is in that position of a go-between.  He is in that position of middleman, between us and the Father.  In Moses we see a picture of Jesus.  We see a type of Christ. 

In a sermon Peter once gave in The New Testament, he quoted that portion of scripture that Moses just talked about.  Peter said this, as he was speaking to the people,

“Moses said, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people.  You must listen to everything He tells you.  Indeed all of the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days.  You are heirs of the prophets, and of the covenant God made with your fathers.  He said to Abraham through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.'”

Jesus came in fulfillment to that prophesy. 

I want you to see clearly that Jesus is your mediator.  Jesus has bridged the chasm between us and God.  He did that by His death on the cross. 

In The New Testament, John was once writing a letter.  This is the book of 1 John.  John wrote this about Jesus being our mediator.  It is a very endearing way that he put it, when he said,

“My dear children,

I write this to you so that you will not sin.  But, if anybody does sin, we have One who speaks to the Father in our defense, Jesus Christ the righteous One.  He is the atoning sacrifice not only for our sins, but also for the sins of the whole world.  Jesus is your mediator.”
Well, now that the conversation between God and Moses has ended, (God speaking in the first part of our text for today and Moses speaking in the middle part of our text for today), I want to go to the last verse of our text.  Here is the word I want you to cling to, as you leave worship today.  In Hebrew, it is one word.  In our English, it is a few words.  I want you to cling to the verb that God changed His mind.  The Hebrew word there is 'nachem'.  The word 'nachem', means 'to relent'.  God changed His mind.  He relented on what He said He was going to do to His people, because the mediator went to the Father on behalf of the people.

We are now in the month of October.  Every October we celebrate Reformation.  On Reformation Sunday, every time we celebrate it, The Old Testament Lesson is from the book of Jeremiah.  The very last verse that we read from the book of Jeremiah on Reformation Sunday says this.  Here is God changing His mind.  Here is God relenting.

“God will forgive their wickedness

and remember their sins no more.”

How wonderful it is that our Savior, Jesus, is a mediator between us and the Father.  Through Him, He has done everything the Father has asked.  Through His life, through His death, through His resurrection, He has made full, and complete payment for all of our sins.  He has given you everlasting life with Him in Heaven.



Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and forever more. Amen.