Collect of the Week (Proper 19-C)
Lord Jesus, You are the Good Shepherd, without whom nothing is secure. Rescue and preserve us that we may not be lost forever but follow You, rejoicing in the way that leads to eternal life; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Exodus 32:1-14 (From the Bible Story Lectionary)
1 When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, "Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." 2 So Aaron said to them, "Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me." 3 So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden1 calf. And they said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!" 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made proclamation and said, "Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD." 6 And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
7 And the LORD said to Moses, "Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, 'These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!'" 9 And the LORD said to Moses, "I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you."
11 But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, "O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, 'With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth'? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, 'I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.'" 14 And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.
Catechism: The Ten Commandments—The Close of the Commandments
What does God say about all these commandments?
He says: “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Exodus 20:5-6
What does this mean?
God threatens to punish all who break these commandments. Therefore, we should fear His wrath and not do anything against them. But he promises grace and every blessing to all who keep these commandments. Therefore, we should also love and trust in Him and gladly do what He commands.
In the name of T Jesus.
There are many times, when having to discipline our children, when Jamie and I talk sense into one another. And usually, she’s the one talking sense into me. One of the kids has done something, or together they have done something, that is intentionally disobedient, and before I go to lay down the law, Jamie will offer a few words, and remind me of the love that I’ve been called to give to them. She’s not intending to keep me from disciplining them—which she has no problem doing herself, by the way—she’s just reminding me that my discipline should be padded with love, so to speak.
In the case of the Israelites, they were about to be on the receiving end of God’s powerful wrath. There they were, having taking off their rings and earrings, and worshipping the golden calf—the graven image which Aaron had fashioned out of their gold. The people responded with praise for the calf: “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” And then Aaron, who was supposed to be Moses’ right-hand-man built an altar before it.
Of course, their idolatry was not lost on the one who Himself had brought them out of Egypt, and who Himself was their God. As their false worship was offered, the LORD’s anger was kindled. In anger, he intended to bring down His wrath on this idolatrous people, and start again from scratch with Moses.
But the Israelites had a mediator. The Israelites, sinful though they were, had Moses pleading their case before the LORD. The LORD was hot—literally. And by reminding the LORD of the promises He had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses was able to cool him down, so that the LORD would have His discipline padded with the loving promises He had given. For the LORD will remember His promises.
Of course, the Israelites were not off the hook, and were not without punishment. If we would keep reading on to verse 20, we would see how they were made to burn that calf, to melt it down, and to drink into them the very god which they had created. That was creative discipline, I would say; not the kind of consequence that would allow their foolishness to be forgotten so quickly.
With Moses serving as mediator, the LORD’s anger had cooled, and the LORD “relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.” But even more, to these idolaters, the LORD would renew His covenantal promises, and continue to be their God. He would not put them off, but would keep them, and would continue to build them up into a nation—for His steadfast love endures forever.
Of course, the Israelites aren’t the only ones with a mediator. 1 Timothy 2:5 reminds us that there is “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Hebrews chapter 3 reminds us that where Moses was faithful, Jesus “has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.”
Where Moses pleaded for the Israelites, the blood of Jesus pleads the case for all mankind. The death of Jesus was a atoning sacrifice for the Israelite’s idolatry and our own. And where Moses had cooled the LORD”s wrath, Jesus satisfies it by taking it upon Himself. And now, as children of the Father, even when we are disciplined, it is a discipline padded by love, and mercy, and never apart from the one who is pleading on our behalf—Jesus Christ Himself.
In the name of T Jesus. Amen.
O Christ, Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, thank You for giving Yourself for me. Forgive my sin, and strengthen me to believe in You and love You. Amen (TLSB, p. 152).
Daily Prayer (For Tuesday)
We pray…for deliverance against temptation and evil; for the addicted and despairing, the tortured and oppressed; for those struggling with sin.