Last month, I preached on intercession, mentioning Abraham’s intercession for his nephew Lot and the people of Sodom. In today’s reading, we see the same theme play out with Moses and the Israelites.
In today’s Bible reading, we read about God’s contempt for His people because of their idolatry. While Moses was communing with God, hearing God’s instructions for the sacrificial system and the priesthood, the people demand that Aaron craft a golden calf idol that they can sacrifice to. God warns Moses to stand aside so He might kill the people and start again with Moses to build His people. (Exodus 32:10)
But instead of letting God destroy the millions of people he led out of Egypt — and making a great name for himself — Moses intercedes for the people. He “stands in the gap” for them, connecting God with His people. Moses reminds God of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel to grow a large family from them.
And God relents. (Exodus 32:14)
The next day, after confronting the people, Moses approaches God, asking Him to forgive them of their sin of idolatry. And then he makes an interesting request: “If you don’t forgive them, then please remove my name from your book.” (Exodus 32:32) He basically told God that if He wouldn’t forgive their sin, he didn’t want anything to do with God.
Moses’ intercession is unlike any that I have ever seen or heard before. In Moses’ prayer, he asks to be part of the process of bringing the people and God back together. He refuses to be the beginning of a new people of God. He boldly holds God to His promises. The Puritans spoke of “suing God”, seeking God to make good on His promises. ‘The more we urge him with his covenant’, Robert Harris wrote, ‘and hold him to it, the better he likes it and the sooner he inclines to us’.
When you think of your lost loved ones or friends, do you “sue God” to save them? Do you hold God to His Word, asking Him to make good on His promises to save everyone who calls on His name and you pray that they will respond to His invitation to come? Do you put yourself in the middle, standing in the gap for their salvation?