1. MOSES BREAKS THE TABLES OF STONE
a. What did Moses bring with him when he came down from the mount, and how did Joshua and Moses each interpret the noise that they heard in the camp? Exodus 32:17, 18.
b. Describe the reaction of Moses to the idolatry in the camp and Aaron’s vain attempt at self-justification. Exodus 32:19–24.
“When Moses, on returning to the camp, confronted the rebels, his severe rebukes and the indignation he displayed in breaking the sacred tables of the law were contrasted by the people with his brother’s pleasant speech and dignified demeanor, and their sympathies were with Aaron. To justify himself, Aaron endeavored to make the people responsible for his weakness in yielding to their demand; but notwithstanding this, they were filled with admiration of his gentleness and patience. But God seeth not as man sees. Aaron’s yielding spirit and his desire to please had blinded his eyes to the enormity of the crime he was sanctioning. His course in giving his influence to sin in Israel cost the life of thousands.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 323.
2. JUDGMENT AGAINST THE OFFENDERS
a. How offensive was the attitude of Aaron in the eyes of God? Deuteronomy 9:20.
“If Aaron had had courage to stand for the right, irrespective of consequences, he could have prevented that apostasy.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 323.
b. What appeal did Moses make after he had rebuked his brother, and what was the result? Exodus 32:26–29.
“It was necessary that this sin should be punished, as a testimony to surrounding nations of God’s displeasure against idolatry. By executing justice upon the guilty, Moses, as God’s instrument, must leave on record a solemn and public protest against their crime. As the Israelites should hereafter condemn the idolatry of the neighboring tribes, their enemies would throw back upon them the charge that the people who claimed Jehovah as their God had made a calf and worshiped it in Horeb. Then though compelled to acknowledge the disgraceful truth, Israel could point to the terrible fate of the transgressors, as evidence that their sin had not been sanctioned or excused.
“Love no less than justice demanded that for this sin judgment should be inflicted. God is the guardian as well as the sovereign of His people. He cuts off those who are determined upon rebellion, that they may not lead others to ruin.”—Ibid., p. 325.
c. What did Moses communicate to those who were sorry for their sin, and how did he later communicate with God in their behalf? Exodus 32:30–35.
“Moses realized how dreadful would be the fate of the sinner; yet if the people of Israel were to be rejected by the Lord, he desired his name to be blotted out with theirs; he could not endure to see the judgments of God fall upon those who had been so graciously delivered. The intercession of Moses in behalf of Israel illustrates the mediation of Christ for sinful men. But the Lord did not permit Moses to bear, as did Christ, the guilt of the transgressor. ‘Whosoever hath sinned against Me,’ He said, ‘him will I blot out of My book.’”—Ibid., pp. 326, 327.
3. GOD ACCEPTS THE PENITENT
a. How did the people react when they heard that the Lord would not lead them to Canaan because of their sin? Exodus 33:1–6.
b. Where did Moses pitch the tabernacle after this dreadful experience? What token revealed hope for those who sought the Lord? Exodus 33:7–10.
“The tent was pitched without the encampment, but Moses called it ‘the tabernacle of the congregation.’ All who were truly penitent, and desired to return to the Lord, were directed to repair thither to confess their sins and seek His mercy. When they returned to their tents Moses entered the tabernacle. With agonizing interest the people watched for some token that his intercessions in their behalf were accepted. If God should condescend to meet with him, they might hope that they were not to be utterly consumed. When the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the entrance of the tabernacle, the people wept for joy, and they ‘rose up and worshiped, every man in his tent door.’”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 327.
c. What assurance did Moses obtain from the Lord? Exodus 33:11–17. How can we obtain the same assurance?
“This experience—above all else the promise that the divine Presence would attend him—was to Moses an assurance of success in the work before him; and he counted it of infinitely greater worth than all the learning of Egypt or all his attainments as a statesman or a military leader. No earthly power or skill or learning can supply the place of God’s abiding presence.”—Ibid., p. 328.
“Go to God and tell Him as did Moses, ‘I cannot lead this people unless Thy presence shall go with me.’ And then ask still more; pray with Moses, ‘Show me Thy glory.’ What is this glory?—the character of God. That is what He proclaimed to Moses. Let the soul, in living faith, fasten upon God. Let the tongue speak His praise. When you associate together, let the mind be reverently turned to the contemplation of eternal realities. Thus you will be helping one another to be spiritually minded. When your will is in harmony with the divine will, you will be in harmony with one another; you will have Christ by your side as a counselor.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 499.
4. A GLIMPSE OF GOD’S CHARACTER
a. What further request did Moses make, and what was the Lord’s answer? Exodus 33:18, 19. How did the Lord proclaim His name to Moses? Exodus 34:5–7.
“It is our privilege to reach higher and still higher for clearer revealings of the character of God. When Moses prayed, ‘I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory,’ the Lord did not rebuke him, but He granted his prayer. God declared to His servant, ‘I will make all My goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee.’ Exodus 33:18, 19.
“It is sin that darkens our minds and dims our perceptions. As sin is purged from our hearts, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, illuminating His word and reflected from the face of nature, more and more fully will declare Him ‘merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.’ Exodus 34:6.”—The Ministry of Healing, pp. 464, 465.
b. After God revealed His glory to Moses, what did Moses pray for, and how did God answer? Exodus 34:8–17, 27.
“Moses was full of confidence in God because he had appropriating faith. He needed help, and he prayed for it, grasped it by faith, and wove into his experience the belief that God cared for him. He believed that God ruled his life in particular. He saw and acknowledged God in every detail of his life and felt that he was under the eye of the All-seeing One, who weighs motives, who tries the heart. He looked to God and trusted in Him for strength to carry him uncorrupted through every form of temptation. . . . The presence of God was sufficient to carry him through the most trying situations in which a man could be placed.
“Moses did not merely think of God; he saw Him. God was the constant vision before him; he never lost sight of His face. He saw Jesus as his Saviour, and he believed that the Saviour’s merits would be imputed to him. This faith was to Moses no guesswork; it was a reality. This is the kind of faith we need, faith that will endure the test.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 651, 652.
5. ENTERING THE COVENANT OF GRACE
a. What were the children of Israel now able to appreciate about the blessings offered under the Abrahamic covenant in contrast to their first covenant with God? Psalm 103:8; Hebrews 7:19; Jeremiah 31:33, 34.
“[The children of Israel] had witnessed the proclamation of the law in awful majesty, and had trembled with terror before the mount; and yet only a few weeks passed before they broke their covenant with God, and bowed down to worship a graven image. They could not hope for the favor of God through a covenant which they had broken; and now, seeing their sinfulness and their need of pardon, they were brought to feel their need of the Saviour revealed in the Abrahamic covenant and shadowed forth in the sacrificial offerings. Now by faith and love they were bound to God as their deliverer from the bondage of sin. Now they were prepared to appreciate the blessings of the new covenant.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 372.
b. What did Moses bring down from the mount after forty days, and how did the people feel when they saw him? Exodus 34:28–30, 33.
“The glory reflected in the countenance of Moses illustrates the blessings to be received by God’s commandment-keeping people through the mediation of Christ. It testifies that the closer our communion with God, and the clearer our knowledge of His requirements, the more fully shall we be conformed to the divine image, and the more readily do we become partakers of the divine nature.”—Ibid., p. 330.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why do we often despise the one who rebukes sin and admire the gentle, yielding ones?
2. Why was the sin of worshipping the golden calf so great?
3. What was of more value to Moses than his skill as a statesman or a military leader? Why?
4. As Jesus cleanses the heart from sin, what will we see shining from His Word and reflected in nature?
5. What two things will lead me to become more fully conformed to God’s image? How?