Sermon Discussion + Prayer: Mercy Triumphs Over Judgement

Ex 32:1-14
Overview of Sermon:
Moses is on Mt Sinai receiving the instructions for the tabernacle in which God intends to dwell in the midst of his people. Waiting for Moses to return, the Israelites’ impatience turns to rebellion as they complain to Aaron, demanding an idol to replace the missing Moses. God’s wrath is stirred, but in his mercy he informs Moses of the looming judgement, provoking Moses to intercede on behalf of Israel. God listens to Moses’ appeal to the glory of his name in Egypt and his promises to the patriarchs and relents from wiping out the Israelites in their great sin. Moses’ role as a mediator in this passage points to one who is greater than Moses, our Savior, who has taken the punishment for our own great sins upon himself in the greatest display of God’s just wrath and great mercy and now continually intercedes before the throne of God on our behalf!

Discussion Questions:

  1. What feelings and thoughts are stirred up in you by the wrath of God in this passage? Do you [or have you] wish it wasn’t there?
  2. What idol are you tempted to turn to when waiting on the Lord?
  3. How does God’s wrath in this passage affect the way you think about idolatry? Do you confuse God’s great mercy with thinking God takes your sin lightly?
  4. How does your understanding of Jesus’ continual intercession on your behalf affect you?
  5. Moses was interceding for a grumbling, stiff-necked people that fully deserved God’s just wrath. How does this passage inform your prayers?

Praying the Passage:

It appears the lengthy absence of Moses left the Israelites uncertain... Doubt sets in about Moses and in relation to God.  They should have no need of reassurance in light of all they have experienced beginning with their miraculous deliverance from Egypt.
Father, help me to see where prolonged delays, disappointments, or the absence of answers, have prompted me, at times, to doubt you. Remind me of my own previous experiences, and of specific verses, that remind and reassure me of who you are and what you are really like.

They wanted reassurance and they sought reassurance in the form of an image or idol that would represent God’s presence in their midst...
Lord, show me, with the help of those closest to me, where I can be drawn to diversions, activities, possessions, or things – rather than you – to comfort or distract me when tempted with anxiety or fear.

And sadly, Aaron is compliant in response to demand and criticism rather than courageous.
Father, grant me the faith and patience, the wisdom and courage, to love, pursue, and challenge those near to me, but wandering from you.

And we must not avoid making eye contact with God’s wrath in Scripture because only those who are aware of wrath as an expression of God’s holiness against our sinfulness will be amazed by the stunning display God’s mercy and grace.
Lord God, open my eyes to see even more clearly your holiness and hatred of sin in passages like Ephesians 2:1-9, Romans 1, 2, & 3, and Romans 6:23. And stir my heart with wonder and worship as I meditate on the reality that for no other reason than your love and mercy, you spared me from your wrath and saved me!

The Lord is prompting Moses to take action by interceding and the crisis is averted because of God’s merciful impulse and the grounds for the Lord to show mercy articulated in Moses prayer.
Holy Spirit, move me with compassion and faith to pray for those you bring to mind as lost and without hope, they might be saved from the wrath to come. From your Word, and from your guidance, show me specifically how to pray. 

John Piper – “I know of no other way to triumph over sin long-term than to gain a distaste for it because of a superior satisfaction in God. God remains gloriously all-satisfying.
Glorious God and Savior, may my times alone with you, in prayer and in the Word, capture my heart with your glory and beauty, your perfection and power, and your mercy and grace. May every other worldly desire pale in appropriate insignificance in light of the fact that you have given me the most precious and glorious of all gifts...YOU!