There isn’t a lot of good said about Israel during the Exodus account. It is a long series of complaints against God and against His chosen prophet. Fewer than five months since God had brought them up out of Egypt with great signs, had rescued them from armies, and had fed them with bread and water, they turned their backs on God and made a replacement bull for Moses, who was away, to go before them and lead them. We see their ingratitude with amazing clarity because the Scripture lays out so clearly for us what God had done. It’s harder for us to see this when we read about this stuff in the paper or listen to commentators speculate on why our economy is collapsing.
God threatened to consume the whole people in His wrath and to raise up a great nation from Moses. Moses, the friend of God, pleaded for Israel on the basis of the witness to the surrounding nations and God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Even though this stiff-necked people set themselves against him constantly, Moses offered himself up as atonement for them, to be blotted out instead of the whole people. God did not take him, but he did spare the nation.
Moses displayed what Paul expounded on in Philippians 2, “in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Paul also pointed to the example of Christ Jesus – God and Creator of the universe – who made Himself nothing, took on the form of a servant, humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. But it does not end in humility. It ends in triumph. It ends in glory. We also ought to give ourselves up for each other, for the sake of the body, to join God in His humility in service to one another, that we might be raised up with Him in glory.