The Golden Calf–and God’s Grace

In preparing for a sermon on Exodus 32, an event of terrible idolatry, but one that proved to be the occasion for God to display his grace, I ran across the following quote:

calf_10596c“At the very outset, then, the covenant had been broken [by worshiping the golden calf]. The bond now had to be restored. . . . Although Moses served as a mediator, he could not die for his people. Only the other Mediator, Jesus Christ, could do that. Moses could do more than plead for his people. . . .  This prayer was also heard. The Lord Himself would be with them. With that the relationship was restored from the Lord’s side. “At the very outset, then, the covenant had been broken [by worshiping the golden calf]. The bond now had to be restored. . . . Although Moses served as a mediator, he could not die for his people. Only the other Mediator, Jesus Christ, could do that. Moses could do more than plead for his people. . . .  This prayer was also heard. The Lord Himself would be with them. With that the relationship was restored from the Lord’s side.

“We must take careful note of the implications of this event. It is crystal clear that Israel had no right whatsoever to the Lord’s favor. That the Lord again chose to enter into a covenant with His people was purely a matter of grace; actually it was an anticipation of the work of Christ.

“When the Lord fulfills the promises of long ago, He is not under any obligation to do so. He would be completely justified in not fulfilling them. When He does fulfill them, He does so in divine freedom and sovereign love. Again and again we see that the Bible is not a book in which man lays claim to what is his by right. No Israelite had the right to demand this and that because he was an actual descendant of Abraham. There is no room for boasting. The covenant remains a covenant of grace.” (C. Vanderwaal, Search the Scriptures, Vol. 1, pp. 142-143).

Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC

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