Moment of Transformation:
MOSES’ INTERCESSORY PRAYER
Then Moses pleaded with the Lord his God. Exodus 32:11 NKJV
God’s covenant with His people had been disannulled, and He declared to Moses, “let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation” The people of Israel, especially the mixed multitude, would be constantly disposed to rebel against God. They would also murmur against their leader, and would grieve him by their unbelief and stubbornness, and it would be a laborious and soul-trying work to lead them through to the Promised Land. Their sins had already forfeited the favor of God, and justice called for their destruction. The Lord therefore proposed to destroy them, and make of Moses a mighty nation.
“Let Me alone, … that I may consume them,” were the words of God. If God had purposed to destroy Israel, who could plead for them? How few but would have left the sinners to their fate! How few but would have gladly exchanged a lot of toil and burden and sacrifice, repaid with ingratitude and murmuring, for a position of ease and honor, when it was God Himself that offered the release.
But Moses discerned ground for hope where there appeared only discouragement and wrath. The words of God, “Let Me alone,” he understood not to forbid but to encourage intercession, implying that nothing but the prayers of Moses could save Israel, but that if thus entreated, God would spare His people. He “pleaded with the Lord his God, and said: Lord, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?”
As Moses interceded for Israel, his timidity was lost in his deep interest and love for those for whom he had, in the hands of God, been the means of doing so much. The Lord listened to his pleadings, and granted his unselfish prayer. God had proved His servant; He had tested his faithfulness and his love for that erring, ungrateful people, and nobly had Moses endured the trial. His interest in Israel sprang from no selfish motive. The prosperity of God’s chosen people was dearer to him than personal honor, dearer than the privilege of becoming the father of a mighty nation. God was pleased with his faithfulness, his simplicity of heart, and his integrity, and He committed to him, as a faithful shepherd, the great charge of leading Israel to the Promised Land.
Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 319
Quote of the Day “Intercessory prayer might be defined as loving our neighbour on our knees.” Charles Bent
Did You Know?
The Hebrew verb used in Exodus 32:14 (nacham, usually translated as ‘relent’ or ‘repent’) does not always mean to change one’s mind, but can also mean ‘to be moved to pity/to have compassion for others. This is precisely what God had for Israel: compassion for them in their sinful rebellion.
What God said to Moses was an invitation to intercede, but it was more than an invitation—it was also an examination. God was testing Moses, because in addition to saying that he would destroy everyone back at the camp, God promised to make Moses into a great nation. The prophet would become the new patriarch, a second Abraham, the father of many nations. From then on, the people of God would be known as “the Mosesites” or “the children of Moses.” It was a tempting offer, and thus a real test of the prophet’s character. After all, the Israelites deserved to be punished anyway. And who better to become the father of a new nation than Moses, the man who met with God on the mountain? So this was the test: To save Israel, Moses had to turn down the opportunity to make a name for himself. Would he pray for his people, or would he pursue his own ambitions? Moses passed the test.
Philip Graham Ryken and R. Kent Hughes, Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005), 988–989.
What can you do to live out a life of intercession?
This Week’s Homework