“The next day Moses said to the people, ‘You have sinned a great sin. And now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.’ So Moses returned to the Lord and said, ‘Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if you will forgive their sin – but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.’ But the Lord said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.'” (Exodus 32:30-33 ESV emphasis added)
The people of Israel had just made a golden calf. Another god – because they weren’t happy with the Lord’s behavior. They weren’t happy with His timing. So they sinned against God. Their sin was heinous and offensive to God. The people He had created … bought … rescued … loved … cared for … chosen … preserved … had abandoned Him. They turned their back on Him and said He wasn’t good enough.
Moses hated their sin too. He had just been enveloped in the presence of a Holy, Holy, Holy God. He thought the calf was silly … vile … stupid … disgusting … rebellious. He hoped that he could atone (pay) for their sin – as their representative … as their advocate … vicariously … as a substitute for them. So he said, “perhaps.”
He said “perhaps” because he wasn’t sure. Could he atone for their sin? Did he have what it took? Could he afford it? Could he do it? Could he satisfy God’s wrath? Could he serve as a ransom for his people? He thought he might … because he was like them. He shared their humanity … their frailty … their weakness … their ignorance … their dependence. He could relate to them in every way.
But he didn’t have what it took. He couldn’t atone for their sin. He couldn’t satisfy God’s wrath. His life couldn’t serve as a ransom – EVEN THOUGH HE OFFERED IT.
His life wasn’t enough. He wasn’t spotless … on his own. He wasn’t clean … on his own. He couldn’t afford the price that it would cost to satisfy God’s wrath. He offered his life, but it wasn’t enough. Because … even though he could relate to the people of Israel in every way … he could not relate to God in every way.
But later Someone else would come along! Someone greater than Moses. Someone who is fully man … so that He can relate to man … our weakness … our frailty … our humanity. But this Man is more than fully man. He’s also fully God. He can relate to God in every way! He can relate to His Holiness … His wrath … His compassion … His strength … His love.
So when this Man went up on the mountain to atone for the sin of the people – He had what it took! He could afford it! He could take it! He knew what it would take to pay our ransom … and He had it … and He paid it … with His life … and His death! Because He created us … and He became one of us! He was a prophet like Moses – but He is much greater than Moses. He is the only One who can fully relate to man’s weakness … and God’s strength! His name?