Drinking Wrath

By Shawn Tomlin

Last week we talked about using some of God’s gifts (the gold plundered from the Egyptians) to make an idol for themselves. This week we will briefly touch on what happened after Moses confronted them.

So starting in Exodus 32:15 we see Moses went down from the mountain after God told him about his people worshipping an idol. When Moses saw it all with his own two eyes, he smashed the two tablets on which were written the Ten Commandments. This is the first significant point I want to make, the fact that the covenant was broken just like the tablets.

Unlike Israel, who couldn’t handle a sip of God’s wrath, Jesus drank the cup of wrath for those whom He identified with, as Moses identified with his people. The cup we should’ve drank passed us by and Christ drained it to the dregs.

Moses then destroys the idol, grinds it into powder, put the powder into the Israelites’ water and makes them drink it. After this Moses calls the Levites together and together they kill about 3,000 men that day (Exodus 32:26-29). Later in verse 35 a plague was inflicted on them by God. This is my second significant point, that as it’s mentioned in Jeremiah 25:15 and Isaiah 51:11, the “cup” was a way to describe God’s wrath. Whether you see it or not, God was gracious, even here in the midst of His judgement. He had every reason to destroy them all but He only gave them a taste of His wrath. They drank their idol and got a taste of judgement.

Now in verse 30 Moses said, “You have committed a grave sin. Now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can atone for your sin.” Moses may have intended to offer himself as a sacrifice for Israel, which even if he didn’t intend that, his words in verse 30 foreshadow what Christ would do for His people. That being said, my third significant point is Moses wasn’t guilty of this particular sin, but before the LORD, identified himself with them, and they were guilty, very guilty. God remembered His covenant  with them and was gracious.

Unlike the Mosaic Covenant, Christ instituted a new everlasting covenant (Jeremiah 31:31). In Christ’s blood was the New Covenant made and it’s in Christ blood that the Father says “For I will forgive their iniquity and never again remember their sin,” Jeremiah 31:34. Unlike Israel, who couldn’t handle a sip of God’s wrath, Jesus drank the cup of wrath for those whom He identified with, as Moses identified with his people. The cup we should’ve drank passed us by and Christ drained it to the dregs. He carried our sin to the cross and gave us in exchange, His perfect righteousness.

“The LORD bless you, and keep you;

The LORD make His face shine on you,

And be gracious to you;

The LORD lift up His countenance on you,

And give you peace.”


Lee Jones