October 5, 2016
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
God knew what was going on! (See Exodus 32:7, 8; Psalm 139:1-4). The Israelites had made themselves a golden calf, and were worshiping it, saying, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:4). And they were celebrating their new ‘religion’ with a drunken feast! (See Exodus 32:6). So “The LORD said to Moses…” in Exodus 32:10 through 14…
“Now therefore, let Me alone that…I may consume them. And I will make
of you a great nation.” Then Moses pleaded with the LORD his God…,
“LORD, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people, whom You
have brought out…of Egypt?…Why should the Egyptians…say, ‘He brought
them out…to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your
fierce wrath….Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel…to whom You swore
…and said…‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all
this land…I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’” So
the LORD relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.
God was planning to wipe out all the people He had just rescued from slavery in Egypt! But Moses interceded, and God changed His mind! This passage always encourages me to keep on praying! Yes, we are told in several other places also not to give up on prayer! (See Luke 11:9, 10; 18:1; I Thessalonians 5:17). Here are some more points I see in this passage:
• Moses was a humble man! In fact, it is recorded in Numbers 12:3: “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.” He prefigured Jesus, in that he told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 18:15, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.” The vast majority of Bible scholars believe this reference to a Prophet refers to the coming of Jesus Christ! And Jesus said in Matthew 28:19 (International Standard Version): “Place My yoke on you and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest for your souls….”
It would take a humble man to refuse the offer God made him in verse 10 of our featured Scripture: “…I [will]…consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.” This offer did not seem to tempt Moses in the least!
• “…Moses besought the LORD his God…” (Exodus 32:11). Notice that his plea was directed toward his God. To be any kind of an effective intercessor, you have to personally know the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior! Then you must be closely following Him as your Lord!
• In Ezekiel 22 God spoke of the judgment He brought against Judah – destruction of the kingdom and seventy years of Babylonian captivity! He also gave the reasons for that judgment. But in verse 30 He said this: “…I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it….” One man – just one! That was all that was needed to stay God’s hand of judgment against the nation! Sadly, it is recorded in verses 30 and 31: “…but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads….”
In this incident, centuries earlier, of the golden calf, Moses was the one who made a wall, who stood in the gap, and turned away the destruction of God’s judgment!
Don’t ever think that you – being just one believer – are ineffective! Don’t ever think that your prayers don’t count!
• Moses used three arguments in his intercessory prayer before God, that He should not bring judgment on the idolatrous Israelites:
✡ The first is in verse 11 – “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?” The Israelite’s were God’s people, delivered by God’s great power and mighty hand ! The LORD spent a lot of time, energy, and effort to convince Pharaoh to let them go. Now it seemed inconceivable to Moses that God was going to destroy them after all that!
✡ The second is in verse 12 – “Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? ” Moses was reminding God of the consequences of Egyptian misconception and gossip! The people of Egypt would surely conclude that all along God’s purpose was to destroy the Israelites – and that after all the effort the LORD expended to get them out of Egypt! Jehovah God’s reputation – His name – was at stake!
Related to this is Moses’ account of what happened as he later recalled it in Deuteronomy 9:28 (Contemporary English Version):
If You destroy Your people, the Egyptians will say, “The LORD promised
to give Israel land, but He wasn’t powerful enough to keep His promise.
In fact, He hated them so much that He took them into the desert and
This Scripture again shows God’s reputation – His name – was at stake!
✡ The third is in verse 13 – “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’ ” God solemnly gave to the patriarchs the pledge of which Moses now reminded Him (see Genesis 15:7-21; 28:1-4). God promised! And, because of who He was, He could not go back on His promise!
So God changed His mind, and did not slay the Israelites! Moses’ prayer saved probably two to three million people! What can our prayers do?