Moses goes and talks to God about the people. He wants God to forgive them. He wants atonement to be made that their sins could be covered.
Moses lays down his life and says, take me instead. God says that He will only blot out of His book of life those who sinned against Him. That should put the fear of God into you. He blots out those who sin against Him.
This whole chapter is very reminiscent of those verses where people say, “Lord, Lord,” but Jesus says He NEVER knew them and calls them lawless.
Lawless, meaning they weren’t following God’s laws. They may have been following the laws of the land, but they were lawless toward God.
Just because laws pass saying something is okay, doesn’t at all mean it’s right. God’s law doesn’t change with the laws of your country. Jesus says that He never knew them. They were calling Him Lord. They were doing good works in His name. They were serving Him. They did what they thought was right and pleasing to God. But it was always serving a false god of their own creation.
When God forgives us, He removes our sin from His sight. He doesn’t see it anymore. It is not held against us in any way. He can’t remove it from His sight if we are still doing it. If we’re doing it in front of His eyes, He doesn’t pretend it’s not happening. But if we repent, if we confess, He will forgive and forget and cleanse us. But sometimes the confession and forgiveness aren’t enough, in a way. God, only in His love for us, sometimes has to discipline us. He’s a good father. That’s what a good father does.
He’s not giving us what we deserve. We deserve hell! He’s not getting us back for what we did to Him. He knows the deadly danger of sin and wants to protect us.
A good parent will protect their children. They don’t make every decision for their child for the rest of their lives, but they teach and train, and discipline in the hopes that the child will make wise decisions that will keep them safe and prospering in life.
God is just in anything He does. He sees the individual. He sees the whole body too. He is just and good in what He does, and the heart behind it is always love.