Meditations on Exodus 32:11–13

Transcript of Midweek Meditations podcast episode aired on Wednesday, 14th October 2020.

I’m not the kind of person who changes his mind easily. In this, I’m a little bit stubborn. Maybe you’re like me. Or, more likely, people like me frustrate you. However, I’m not so stubborn I won’t take on different perspectives.

What about God? Does God change his mind?

God is not human, that he should lie,
not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
Does he promise and not fulfil?

Numbers 23:19 (NIV)

Yet, it seems there is one thing that seems to change God’s mind. As we meditate on God’s Word, we’re reminded of what moves God’s heart. Take a look with me at Exodus 32:11–13:

But Moses sought the favour of the LORD his God. “LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’”

Exodus 32:11–13 (NIV)

We find the Israelites in the wilderness, as Moses receives the commandments. While on the mountain, the Israelites fall into sin, creating an idol in the place of the Lord God. The Lord God sees this and determined to destroy the people and start a new nation with Moses. But Moses, standing before God, intercedes for the people. How does he do this?

Moses intercedes for the Israelites by appealing to the glory of God. The glory of God is simply the recognition of who God is. Moses appeals to this, the promise to Abraham, so that the Lord God doesn’t destroy the Israelites. As a result, “the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.” (Exodus 32:14)

So did God change his mind? Well, it’s hard to say. There’s a lot more going on here then we have time to unpack. But what we do learn is that God is moved by one thing – that is, the display of his glory in the world. All through the Scriptures, God seeks to demonstrate his glory.

Our God is a jealous God. He isn’t jealous as people are jealous; he’s jealous for his glory because it results in the care and protection of his Creation and his people. If God isn’t glorified in his world, among his people, in our lives, then we’re not getting the best of God. We’re getting short-changed.

God’s jealousy and zeal for his glory is ultimately demonstrated in Jesus. In Jesus, God is glorified. In Jesus, God demonstrates his care and protection for his Creation and his people by redeeming us from the chains of sin and death. This is what moves God, the pursuit of his glory.

On the flip side, we rob God of his glory by pursuing anything that isn’t him. Those things are idols. Idols can be anything, even good things. But if they take the place of God, we rob ourselves of God’s purposes for this world and for us.

It may seem like a strange idea — and we may not get what we want or think is best — but when we pursue God and his glory we can rest assured that the results is what’s best.

Let’s pray.


Heavenly Father, who are we that you are mindful of us, that you care for us? You have made us a little lower than the angels and crowned us with glory and honour. You made us stewards over the works of your hands, who are we that you would give us life?

Holy Spirit, help us to pursue and seek the glory of God today. Help us to identify the idols of our heart. Help us to see how we might glorify God with our lives. Help us to point others to the Lord Jesus and see the goodness of your glory for them and this world set free from the chains of sin and death.

This we ask for the glory of God, in Jesus’ name, amen.