On Our Behalf
When the Israelites were redeemed from bondage, God instructed them to ask their former Egyptian landlords and owners for gold, silver, and clothes to take with them as they crossed over into the promised land. This would provide the material for the construction of the tabernacle-tent in which God would dwell among His people.
The Israelites hadn’t gone far when Moses was called up Mount Sinai to meet with God. When Moses was gone longer than expected, though, the people grew impatient and demanded of his brother, Aaron, “Make us gods who shall go before us” (Exodus 32:1). So Aaron told them to “take off the rings of gold … and bring them to me,” and he used that gold to make a golden calf: “and they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel’” (v 2, 4). God had provided them with all they needed for the work He would call them to, and instead they abused His gifts to chase after their own ambitions and to worship a false god of their own making. We might not make a golden calf, but we are not immune from doing the same thing with what God has graciously given us.
When Moses returned, he was dismayed at all he observed. Bowing low to the ground before God, he interceded on behalf of the people, essentially saying, You’re the God who has made a covenant with Your people. Please, keep Your covenant! Even though we’ve taken what You have provided for us and have wasted it in the construction of false gods, don’t leave us alone. Please don’t abandon the work of Your hands (Exodus 32:11-13).
It is remarkable that Moses, who was entirely blameless, should so identify himself with the people. It is still more remarkable that he should be more willing to be blotted out of the Lord’s “book” of His people than he was to see the people cast off by God.
In Moses’ intercession, we see glimpses of what ultimately would be fulfilled in the New Testament. God is never the author of unfinished business when it comes to His children. Christ intercedes on our behalf, and “all the promises of God find their Yes in him” (2 Corinthians 1:20). In other words, God’s promises—that He will keep His people and complete the good work He has begun in them—are utterly fulfilled in Jesus Himself.
We are “prone to wander” and “prone to leave the God [we] love.” We are those who use what God gives to pursue our idols. We need an intercessor—and we have one! The Lord Jesus was blotted out in order that we might be forgiven our sin. When we confess our sin to Jesus, we are coming to the one who has already intervened on our behalf. Let His remarkable love for you win your heart back from wandering after idols, and come back to using all you have to serve the God who gave you all you need.
4You adulterous people!3 Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
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