Repentance and Hope
Tension: Why does Israel repent after they’ve been condemned following the Golden Calf incident?
Resolution: because they hope for God’s salvation.
Exegetical Idea: Israel repents after their condemnation following the Golden Calf because they hope for God’s salvation.
Theological Idea: God’s people repent because they hope for the salvation that is in Christ.
Homiletical idea: We repent because we hope for salvation that is in Christ.
Big Idea: True repentance hopes for Redemption in Christ.
Summary of Passage
What Repentance looks like
Repentance: This chapter very much is about repentance. What does genuine repentance look like, and why we should repent.
“Repentance” a dirty word: In our culture, repentance is a dirty word. It’s almost become a kind of code word to describe some back country preacher with a bunch of snake handlers in a locked church somewhere. It is kind of a taboo word even in a lot of churches, just something that you don’t say. It kind of implies a preacher who just bristles up in a pulpit somewhere and who tries to emotionally manipulate you and motivate you by fear. Often as mature Christians, we assume it’s something that only new believers need to do. We don’t really think it is something that we want or need to do.
Mark 1:15: But that’s really not the biblical view of repentance. The Bible actually thinks that repentance is a good thing and it is something that should be a regular pattern for believers. It’s not just how we begin the Christian life, it is kind of the continual description of the Christian life. So for example, the Gospel of Mark summarizes Jesus’ preaching as “repent and believe in the gospel.” And just like we should never stop believing the gospel, so we should never stop repenting. In repentance we turn from unbelief and we turn to belief. In repentance we turn from darkness and we turn to life. In repentance we turn from death and we turn to life. In repentance we turn from sin and we turn to our Savior. In repentance we turn from idolatry and we turn to the only living God.
Martin Luther: This is why when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses that sparked the Protestant Reformation to the Church door in Wittenberg, the very first thesis was, “When Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said “Repent,” he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” The Christian life ought to be marked by a consistent, gradual, almost reflexive muscle of repentance.
True vs. False Repentance: Now, one of the problems that the Bible identifies as common is false repentance. It is possible to have true genuine repentance, and false repentance. This is why John the Baptist tells the Pharisees and Saducees, “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Matt 3:8) So how do we discern genuine repentance from false repentance? Well, I think that Israelites give us a good model of genuine repentance.
Marks of Genuine Repentance
Agree with God about sin - Now, this is not necessarily clearly stated throughout this passage, so much as it is implied. When they hear God’s word about their sin, they mourn. When God accuses them of being stiff-necked, they don’t resist. They go and seek the Lord. All of these things imply that they agree with God about their sin.
Mourned - In Ex 32, we learned that the people “rose up to play”. They were driven by pleasures. But here we learn that they mourn. In fact, 2 Corinthians 7:10 says that there is a sorrow that leads to repentance.
Take off the ornaments - 3x in 4-6 It is not that the ornaments themselves were bad. Rather, the ornaments, and the gold in the ornaments had been precisely what they had sacrificed to create the golden calf. True repentance recognizes that our hearts can make idols out of anything, and so it is willing to set those things aside, whatever they may be. True repentance is willing to sacrifice anything that gets in the way of God, even if it isn’t explicitly sinful.
Seeking the LORD - You will notice that it says that anyone who “sought the Lord.” This is often in the Bible used as a phrase to describe those who are returning from repentance. It is a prayer from the heart, where someone pleas with the Lord for forgiveness and salvation. (cf. Psalm 27:7-10) Rather than seeking and worshipping idols, they worship God.
Worship - Look at vs. 10. Look at how it says the people rise up and “worship.” Repentance is actually an action of worship. In it, we admit that God was right and that we were wrong. Repentance recognizes that God alone is true, though everyone else be a liar. Rather than making excuses like Aaron did in Ex 32, they worship.
Eyes on the Mediator - Finally, we notice here that their eyes were fixed on the mediator. Look at how poetic vs. 8 describes this. They stand up whenver the Old Man Moses works his way through the camp and their eyes are glued on him. You see, rather than being fixated on their sin, they are fixated on the mediator. Repentance is not so much about thinking exclusively about our sin and beating ourselves up over it endlessly as it is on being fixed on the mediator. Repentance is turning from sin and turning to God.
A Reverse Picture of Sin - You may remember last week how we said that one of the ways Israel’s sin is described in the previous chapter is as a picture of reverse repentance. Turning from God to sin. But here, repentance is described in ways that mirror sin. Rather than thinking they are right, they admit God is right. Rather than celebrating sin, they weep over it. Rather than worshipping their possessions, they put them away. Rather than seeking a false God, they seek the onlly true God. Rather than worshipping themselves and singing to a golden calf, they worship God. Rather than being fixated on themselves and on their sin, they are fixated on Christ.
Does this describe you?
Now, this passage is in the middle of a great tension. Because Moses has just gone to God and begged them for forgivnesss and atonement. But God has said no because Moses is an imperfect mediator. So why would they bother repenting?
What Repentance hopes for
God keeps his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Moses (vs. 1-3)
God preserves them
God allows them to seek him
God meets with their mediator face to face, as with a friend (Is 41:8; James 2:23)
The tent of meeting is guarded by “Joshua”
It is not that repentance earns God’s favor. Rather, repentance depends on God’s favor.
Big Idea Reveal: The Israelites repented because they hoped God would save them. And so it is with us today: Our repentance hopes for redemption in Christ. Our repentance is forward looking to the Redeemer. We don’t earn forgiveness, we depend on it.
Example of Peter
Example of Matthew the Tax Collector
Conclusion: Do you need to repent?
Towards a Believer
Towards an Unbeliever