This passage follows God’s allowance in 33:17 that God would still dwell with his people Israel despite their heinous sin at Sinai. This passage reveals who God is and why he does not abandon Israel. As it shows us who God is, this passage is meant to drive us to worship.
Our passage presents to us a series of contrasts. Things we’ve read of before in Exodus are now very different. And within our text, there is a contrast between the people of Israel, the object of God’s wrath, and Moses, the man of God’s friendship. So the passage shines a light on what sin does, and what it does to the humankind’s relationship with their Creator.
Our text today continues to look at the consequences of Israel’s sin. Sin is not pretty. It never is. Even for us believers, God may forgive our sin, but there often remain consequences for our sins in this life. Sin brings about a great deal of suffering, even for those of us who are Christians. We may make one mistake in haste or poor judgment, and that sin will cost us for years and years. This morning, the Scriptures continue to teach us about the ugliness of sin.
The scene for our text today moves back up to the top of the mountain, where Moses and God have been meeting over the past several days. Here the Lord informs Moses as to what’s happened. God speaks, and he reveals his own judgment about what Israel has done. Then Moses responds. At root, this passage is about God’s view of sin and the character and efficacy of Moses as intercessor.