Read Exodus 32:1 – 14
“(Earnestly) remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self and said to them, ‘I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give to your seed, and they shall inherit it forever.
Then the Lord turned from the evil which He had thought to do to His people.”
Exodus 32:13 – 14
This passage is packed full of lessons for me.
First of all, it reminds me that God does have limits. It seems clear that God can lose patience with us – though according to Scripture, it is slow-coming. I don’t know exactly how far God’s patience extends, and though we do live under His grace because of Jesus Christ, I find myself motivated to walk in a manner worthy of Him and His call.
A second thing that is clear in these verses is the heart of this leader. Moses also got very frustrated and worn out trying to deal with these stubborn people. (I feel free to call them that since God did – though He may see some similar things in me). Even though Moses faced opposition and difficulty with these people, when God threatened to burn against them and start over with Moses, Moses jumped in to intercede. That, to me, is a picture of selflessly caring for people. The Israelites never even knew!
Most intriguing to me is the question that this raises about the possibility of changing God’s mind through intercession. If we take this passage at face value, it appears that God considered a devastating punishment because of how badly the Israelites had acted. Moses jumped in and reminded the Lord of His promises to His children, Abraham, Isaac, and Israel; and of His reputation before the Egyptians. According to verse 14, God listened, and decided against taking out His wrath on these well-deserving people.
Perhaps one day I will ask my question face to face. In the meantime, wherever you fall on your belief in regard to that question, there can be no doubt that it makes a powerful difference when we pray. Whether Moses changed God’s mind, or this somehow fit into God’s plan of predestination, doesn’t matter. In the moment, Moses prayed and God responded.
My main question for us as leaders today is this: Are you standing in the gap for those whom you are leading? Some of you may feel that you have the same breed of people as Moses did under your care. Others may be in different circumstances. Either way, it is clear that our people need us standing before the throne of grace for them, possibly averting God’s wrath; or just interceding for their needs, wounds, and concerns.
It is a powerful thing when a leader prays. Others will never know, until perhaps Heaven. Now, if you were to stand with your people on our day before the Lord, will those in your care turn to thank you, or will they turn to ask why you never interceded for them?