In Exo 32.30-34 we find out that on the next day Moses tells the people that they have committed a great sin and he was going up to the Lord so that he can perhaps make atonement for their sin. Moses goes up the mountain and talks with the Lord and asks him to forgive their sin. If not, to blot out his name from “your book” which he has written. This book registers the living, the dead are erased. The Lord said, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot him out of my book.” In other words, the soul that sins, it shall die unless repentance is done.
It’s not that anyone who is really in the Book of Life is ever blotted out, but there are some who think they are written in that book and part of the elect, but in reality are not. They are unrepentant sinners and they were never in that book, which is like being blotted out (Psa 69.28; Matt 7.21-23; 1 John 2.3-4).
Exo 32.35 tells us that the Lord “smote the people” because of what they did with the Golden Calf which Aaron had made. We know that all the people didn’t perish, but the Lord declares that whenever they would sin in the future, they would suffer some of the punishment that they should have received in retribution for the sin of the Golden Calf. Exo 32.34 says, “But go now, lead the people where I told you. Behold, my angel shall go before you; nevertheless in the day when I punish, I will punish them for their sin.”
The nature of what happens on the number killed are not recorded, but 1 Cor 11.29-32 says similar things happen today. Here is a theory. Everyone in the camp had to drink the ground up gold from the calf, except Moses and Joshua. All the people had to do was repent. Those that died probably didn’t. Just like in the Sotah, the bitter waters killed them because they were not honest. If they really failed to repent, the waters of the Golden Calf that they drank killed them. That was the plague. This connection is given at Mesora.Org/Golden Calf; Talmud Yoma 66b and Avodah Zara 44a.
Exo 33.1-3 begins to tell us about the Ohel Moed or the Tent of Meeting. The Lord tells Moses to depart and bring the people (not my people) whom you (not me) have brought up from the land of Egypt. He was going to send an angel (Joshua) before you and I will drive out the Canaanite (“merchants”-alludes to when Yeshua drove out the money changers), the Amorite (“talkers”-talk like they are believers but aren’t); the Hittites (terror); the Perizzite (“squatter” in spiritual things); the Hivite (“liver”-one who seems to have life but doesn’t); and the Jebusite (“trodden down”-they walk on godly things, find no value). These are our enemies as we try to take the promises. The Lord doesn’t say that the angel will drive them out, God will. Our enemy is a defeated enemy already, just like these nations. They had lost a war that hasn’t even started yet.
Israel was going to the “land of milk and honey” but the Lord will not go up in their midst because they were obstinate, lest he destroy them along the way. He didn’t do it in Exo 32.30-35. The term “land of milk and honey” is an idiom for a land that was “uncultivated” or “devastated by war” (see the book “Ancient Israel” by Roland Devaux). In Texas they call it “cattle country.” It is uncultivated with forest and wild vegetation. A good article on this is from Haaretz called “Simple Pleasures in the Land of Milk and Honey.” Let’s look at this idiom a little closer.
Isa 7.14 says that the Lord is going to give King Ahaz a sign to show that his enemies were going to be defeated. A young woman (almah) will bear a child and call his name Immanuel. Isa 7.15-16 says “He will eat curds (milk) and honey at the time he knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.” So, the boy will eat curds and honey because the land was going to be forsaken. Assyria is coming and the land will be uncultivated and devastated by war (Isa 7.20-25).
Remember, we have four levels that we work the Scriptures through when studying. These levels have been derived from the Scriptures themselves. The “Peshat” is the literal meaning. The “Remez” is what is alluding to the verse. The “Drash” is to explore and ask, and a threshing out of the meaning. The “Sowd” is the secret, deeper meaning.
These passages we have referenced are good ones to look at with this understanding. We have a prophecy in Isa 7.14 that is going to be fulfilled more than one time. In the “peshat” (literal), it was fulfilled in the days of the prophet Isaiah. The son being referred to here is the son of Isaiah. In the remez (alluding to), drash (ask, explore) and sowd (secret, deeper) it is fulfilled in the Messiah Yeshua. It has more than one fulfillment.
Now, the word “almah” means a “young woman.” It can mean a young, married woman. In Isa 7.14 it is applied to the Messiah by most people reading it, but in verse 15 it says “curds and honey” will be eaten at the time this child knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. Isa 7.17 says, “The Lord will bring on you, on your people, and on your father’s house such days as have never come since the day Ephraim separated from Judah, the king of Assyria.” So, what is going on here?
An alliance was made between the king of Syria (Aram) and Pekah, the son of Remaliah, king of Israel (Isa 7.1). They went up against Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not conquer it. The Lord asks Ahaz to ask for a sign that this alliance will not be successful, but Ahaz doesn’t want to ask. So, the Lord says he will give Ahaz a sign anyway. All of this is in the peshat level (literal), in the eighth century B.C.
In Part 60 we will pick up here.