July 19, 2010

To Live is Christ — standing in the gap

These past few days, my devotional reading has focused on these two verses.
At that time the Lord said to me, ‘Hew for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and come up to Me on the mountain and make yourself an ark of wood. And I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke; and you shall put them in the ark.’ (Deuteronomy 10:1–2)
Their context gives the reason why God repeated the giving of the Ten Commandments. It starts in Deuteronomy 9:11 and since the passage is long, the following are highlights only. Moses is speaking . . . 
At the end of forty days and forty nights, that the Lord gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant. Then the Lord said to me, ‘Arise, go down quickly from here, for your people whom you brought out of Egypt have acted corruptly; they have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them; they have made themselves a molded image. . . . I have seen this people, and indeed they are a stiff-necked people. Let Me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.’
Then Moses told the people, “I turned and came down from the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire; and the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands. And I looked, and behold, you had sinned against the Lord your God—had made for yourselves a molded calf! You had turned aside quickly from the way which the Lord had commanded you. Then I took the two tablets and threw them out of my two hands and broke them before your eyes.”

The passage goes on to describe how Moses, “fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all your sin which you committed in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger. For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure with which the Lord was angry with you, to destroy you.”

Moses had an incredible heart. Would God listen? This man continues, “But the Lord listened to me at that time also. And the Lord was very angry with Aaron and would have destroyed him; so I prayed for Aaron also at the same time. . . .”

After reminding the people of the other occasions when they “provoked the Lord to wrath” and “did not believe Him nor obey His voice” he told them, “I prostrated myself before the Lord; forty days and forty nights I kept prostrating myself, because the Lord had said He would destroy you. Therefore I prayed to the Lord, and said: ‘O Lord God, do not destroy Your people and Your inheritance whom You have redeemed through Your greatness, whom You have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; do not look on the stubbornness of this people, or on their wickedness or their sin, lest the land from which You brought us should say, “Because the Lord was not able to bring them to the land which He promised them, and because He hated them, He has brought them out to kill them in the wilderness.” Yet they are Your people and Your inheritance, whom You brought out by Your mighty power and by Your outstretched arm.’” (All of the above is from Deuteronomy 9:11–29)

This is humbling, for several reasons. One is the many times that I’ve ignored the will of God and did not realize that apart from the intercession of Jesus Christ, God should have destroyed me. He hates sin.

Also, I’m humbled by the intercession of Moses. When other people sin, it is much easier to look down my nose than fall down before God, not eating or drinking until their forgiveness is secured. Moses loved people.

I’m humbled concerning Aaron too. As a frustrated leader, he gave the people what they wanted instead of doing the right, but unpopular, thing. At that, God would have destroyed him except for Moses’ prayer. Many times have I been in Aaron’s place. Apart from the sacrifice of Christ and His continual intercession for me, God has every right to destroy me too.

Moses was meek, not feisty. He loved the Lord, and because of that He also loved the people. He even said to God, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” (Exodus 32:31–32)

That humbles me too. When I pray for others, do I fully realize the danger they are in? Even more, am I fully willing to die in their place that they might live?

Lord, thank You for the powerful example of godliness and of intercession demonstrated in the life of Your man, Moses. Change my heart to be more like his.

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