Israel gets batted around like a ping-pong ball today. “Go down to your people whom you brought out of Egypt.” “Why should your wrath blaze up against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt?” God intends to destroy the people of Israel and begin again with Moses, as He once began with Abraham. Moses pleads with Him not to do that – to remember His covenants. They go back and forth on the fate of Israel, and down below, Israel is merrily sinning away and committing idolatry, with no idea that only Moses' intercession stands between them and death. God relents this time, at Moses' plea – but in the Gospel, Jesus tells the Israelites that Moses will be the one to accuse them before God. If they had truly believed Moses, they would believe also in Christ, and Moses will not defend them in their unbelief. Moses laid a simple choice of life or death before Israel; they have chosen death; he will say so to God.
Those who have gone before will witness either for or against us – the men of Nineveh; the queen of the South; Moses; the “cloud of witnesses” spoken of later by Paul. It isn't a remote God, untouched by our troubles, who will judge our case – it's the Son of Man who endured Gethsemane and Calvary, and the witnesses will be those who have endured and trusted in God despite everything. How well we measure up to them is up to us.