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Thread: How could God truthfully threaten to "consume" the Israelites in Ex 32:10?

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    Over 750 post club Derf's Avatar
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    How could God truthfully threaten to "consume" the Israelites in Ex 32:10?

    From a conversation with @Jerry Shugart (here), there was a disagreement about whether God was really threatening to destroy Israel and raise up a nation from Moses, or if it was an idle threat just as a test of Moses.

    Here's the passage (with the primary verses for this conversation highlighted):
    [Exo 32:7-14 KJV] 7 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted [themselves]: 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These [be] thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 9 And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it [is] a stiffnecked people: 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. 11 And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? 12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit [it] for ever. 14 And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.


    The problem Jerry brought up with it being a real threat (one that God might actually execute) is mentioned in the passage (underlined) along with Jacob's blessings/prophecies to his sons in Gen 49, and specifically [Gen 49:10 KJV] 10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him [shall] the gathering of the people [be].

    My argument was that God can do anything He wants, and if He says He is willing to make a great nation of Moses and destroy the Israelites, I expect He can do it, and still not violate His character (as described in Num 23:19 God [is] not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do [it]? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?)

    Further, the Num 23 passage (spoken by Balaam) is just as much in effect when God talks to Moses in Ex 32 as it is when Jacob speaks a blessing over his sons in Gen 49.

    Here are some possible solutions, but I'd like to hear others:
    1. God's destruction (KJV says "consume") of Israel would not be a complete destruction--the word for "consume" seems to allow that. And making a great nation of Moses would still meet the requirements of Moses' objection in Ex 32:13.
    2. God is able to raise up children of Abraham from rocks (Mat 3:9), so I suppose He could do so with children of Judah.
    3. The Shiloh prophecy is not understood correctly, and it means something that was already being fulfilled.


    Regarding 1: There are numerous instances where a people is destroyed or cut off or other tragic circumstances, but there remain some of those same people referenced in later books/chapters.

    Reg. 2: I don't prefer this, as Jesus might have been talking analogously about children of Abraham, while such a fulfillment of Jacob's prophecy seems a little deceptive to me.

    Reg. 3: I don't think the Shiloh passage is ever referenced in the New Testament as a fulfilled prophecy, so it is either ignored or it isn't considered fulfilled yet. The ramifications of it not being fulfilled yet could be interesting to certain theological positions. If it was ignored by the NT writers, then that would mean it was either not applicable, or the Holy Spirit didn't inspire anyone to write about it (for His own reasons).

    Jerry, since we've had some of this conversation, I'd prefer not to rehash old stuff with you here, but clarifications of your position are welcome.

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    TOL Legend Jerry Shugart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derf View Post
    Here are some possible solutions, but I'd like to hear others:

    God's destruction (KJV says "consume") of Israel would not be a complete destruction--the word for "consume" seems to allow that. And making a great nation of Moses would still meet the requirements of Moses' objection in Ex 32:13.
    When we look at other instances of this from other places I do not see how you can argue that the LORD was not speaking of a complete destruction:

    "Let me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven: and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they" (Deut.9:14).

    There can be no doubt that Moses understood what the LORD said in the same way:

    "I prayed therefore unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, destroy not thy people and thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand"
    (Deut.9:26).

    Quote Originally Posted by Derf View Post
    God is able to raise up children of Abraham from rocks (Mat 3:9), so I suppose He could do so with children of Judah.
    Yes, but those would not be the "seed" of Jacob or Joseph so how could this prophecy be fulfilled?:

    "And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession" (Gen.48:4).

    Quote Originally Posted by Derf View Post
    The Shiloh prophecy is not understood correctly, and it means something that was already being fulfilled.
    There is no doubt that the Lord Jesus was from the Tribe of Judah:

    "For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood"
    (Heb.7:14).

    The Lord Jesus is Shiloh and it will be unto Him shall the gathering of the people be:

    "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be" (Gen.49:10).

    If the LORD destroyed all of those from the tribe of Judah then how would Genesis 49:10 be fulfilled?

    And how could this one be fulfilled if the tribe of Zebulun would be destroyed?

    "Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon"
    (Gen.49:13).

    These prophecies will be fulfilled because the LORD said them and He will do what He says:

    "God is not like people. He tells no lies. He is not like humans. He doesn't change his mind. When he says something, he does it. When he makes a promise, he keeps it" (Num.23:19).

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