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

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    Over 1000 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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    Jerry, I haven't seen your posts around much lately. I hope all is well with you!

    I didn't mean to let this thread lapse for so long, but I was hoping others would jump in with some thoughts.
    Anyway, here's a partial answer/rebuttal. By partial, I mean that I'm only going to deal with the Shiloh reference. You have indicated that "Shiloh" is Jesus Christ, which may be true, but it might not be, as I suggested.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Shugart View Post
    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).

    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).
    Moses or any descendant of Moses could fit this promise. It is true that Jacob was passing on to his children the promise he had received from God. But that promise was not passed on specifically to any one tribe.



    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?
    Just because Jesus is of the tribe of Judah doesn't mean that the blessing applied to Him specifically. As I pointed out before, we don't have any New Testament confirmation of the applicability of this passage to Jesus. But there's another test of it, in order to put to rest your issue that it had to happen, and therefore God couldn't really mean what He was saying to Moses. Is this prediction/blessing shown as fulfilled anywhere. I'd have to say "Yes."

    [1Ch 5:1-2 KJV] 1 Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he [was] the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright. 2 For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him [came] the chief ruler; but the birthright [was] Joseph's

    Note that 1 Chron 5:2 gives both the intention of the blessing, as well as the fulfillment of it. the intention was that the genealogy of Jacob would be reckoned after something besides the birthright.

    If 1 Chronicles recognizes the prophecy as fulfilled already, then whatever it was that fulfilled it only had to occur before God wiped out the tribe of Judah. I have a 2 suggestions for when the prophecy was sufficiently fulfilled:
    1. When the Israelites entered the promised land, or
    2. When they set up camp at Shiloh.

    I prefer the first one. The word for Shiloh seems to indicate tranquility or rest, but it was also the name of the place Joshua set up camp when they first began the conquest of Canaan. And at the time of Samuel, it was still the place where the ark of the covenant rested.

    Does this preclude its use as a messianic prophecy? No, but it would allow for an immediate fulfillment without a more future fulfillment.

    In the case of the more future fulfillment, there's a bit of a problem with how to interpret it so that it actually was fulfilled in Christ's coming. Since Christ was born during Herod's reign, and Herod was not from Judah, and since God Himself set up a Benjamite as king prior to David, how can one say that the scepter did no pass from Judah until Christ came?


    I'm still looking at this one:
    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).
    There's also the possibility that these were not really predictions/prophecies, that were required to be fulfilled, but merely blessings. Thus, as long as the receptor of each blessing lived (and that included both the sons as well as their descendants), the blessing could be claimed. But if there was no one left to claim the blessing, that might in no way reflect on God's ability to bring a certain thing to pass.

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