Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you in The Way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” Exodus 33:3 RSV
Who is on YHVH’s side? Aaron had let the people “cut loose” (something every collage kid seems to know about). They put up their pagan center-piece and had a party. YHVH was through with them. He was ready to destroy them all in the midst of the wilderness. But Moses interceded. He gave up greatness for himself and his children, not for the sake of the Sons of Israel, but for the sake of the Name of YHVH. Then Moses saw what YHVH sees. People who substitute what they are familiar with, the god of their slavery, for the God who set them free from that slavery.
Who is on YHVH’s side? Exodus 32:25-29. The morning after the people “cut loose” in revelery, Moses stood and asked, “Who is willing to face YHVH? (on the Lord’s side is added to the Hebrew). Who is willing to face YHVH? Not because we are pure of heart, but because we are willing to confess our sin.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9
The Son’s of Levi responded. They faced YHVH and lived. How they faced Him, what they said or did is kept private, between themselves and their LORD, all we know is that they faced Him. The rest of the camp did not face Him. After all, what did they do wrong? They just wanted to celebrate their freedom. They paid a lot of money (gold) to their priest, who said, “Here is your God who brought you out of Egypt” Why should YHVH care if they made an image they were fimlar with? After all, they called it by His name.
But what had God said to the people in Exodus 20?
And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am YHVH your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
“You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD (YHVH) your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
Just in case you wonder if it was everyone who heard these instructions or if it was just Moses on the Mountain top, Exodus 20 goes on to say…
Now when all the people perceived the voices and the lightnings and the sound of the shofar and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled; and they stood afar off, and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will hear; but let not God speak to us, lest we die.” And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to prove you, and that the fear of him may be before your eyes, that you may not sin.” Exodus 20:18-20
The people knew what YHVH had said. More importantly, we know what the LORD has said. If you are an American citizen, you should know that schools were begun in New England, first by the Pilgrims, and later by the Puritans, not to give you a career and allow you to be a wealthy, independent person, but to teach you to read so that you can personally know what the Word of God says. You are accountable to the LORD.
Those who were willing to face the LORD (YHVH) were then sent to confront their brothers and friends “with their swords”. Three thousand were killed that day for the sin of the Golden Calf. Even after the camp had been clensed of those whose heart did not belong to YHVH, He still sent a plague among the people. Their party may not have seemed like a big deal to them, but that just showed how empty their heart was.
Who is willing to face the LORD? Does he still hold us to such a high standard in the age of Grace? Read the words of Y’shua’s (Jesus’) missionary, or Apostle.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a wrongdoer, or a mischief-maker; yet if one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God. For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And
“If the righteous man is scarcely saved, where will the impious and sinner appear?” (Proverbs 11:31 see 27-31)
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator. 1 Peter 4:12-19
Peter heard Y’shua-Jesus say, The Way is hard that leads to life and there are only a few who find it. (Matthew 7:13-14 and Luke 13:24) But Beloved, the prize of this difficult Way is life! A life bought for you by the blood of the Son of God! Are you willing to face the LORD? Their sin was so huge that after Moses interceded for them, at high cost to himself and his own sons, YHVH was willing to give them what he had promised their grandfathers, the Land. But he said he would not go with them. He would send an angel to clear The Way but he would not go with them. If all they wanted was a good time, they could have their good time. Then they would die. But if they chose the LORD, they chose eternal life. What good is abundance? It cannot save your soul, but walking with God to eternal life, that is Joy beyond any party you will ever attend.
The Way (DEREK in Hebrew) is the journey with Elohiym
Who will face the LORD? When the people heard that they would still get the promised land but without God, it caused them to mourn. They removed their ornaments, all the bling that identified them. The passage goes on to say that the people began to Worship the LORD. I think that it was at this time that they also began to face YHVH. I do not believe you can worship if you have not first come to him to confess your sins. More on that later, but for today, God is asking you, What do you want? Do you want everything on earth that was promised to you, or do you want the LORD and everything in Heaven that comes with him…. who of you will face the LORD?