The Plea to Intercede | Britney O’Hara
Last week, I listened to a chapel message that was extremely edifying and thought-provoking. As I have been processing the content of the sermon, there are many implications from the text that I would love to share. The passage of Scripture that was taught out of and that we will explore now is Exodus 32:10-14. The context found in these verses is God telling Moses that his wrath is on the Israelites and that he wants to destroy them and start over again with just Moses. The people had just grown impatient and sinned against God by creating and worshipping a golden calf because they weren’t able to wait for Moses to come down from the mountain where he was in the presence of God. However, Moses implores to the Lord by begging him to turn from his anger and save his people for the sake of the promise that he had made, and God relents.
The Big Picture
There are quite a few concerning questions that tend to come to mind when you first read this passage. However, before we start jumping into the text and drawing conclusions as we address the difficult connotations that seem to be present on the surface, we need to be reminded of some characteristics of God.
First of all, the Lord never changes. He is immutable. What is seen in Scripture, though, is his position pivoting either toward or away from a person in response to the act of either calling on his name or departing from him accordingly.
He is unknowable. No one can comprehend his thoughts or his mind. Therefore, we know that while he is inviting us to partner with him, we in no way are able to fully comprehend what he is doing in any given situation. As Romans 11:33-34 says so eloquently:
“Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
God is not only sovereign but also outside of time. He holds all things in his hands, and all things work out according to his purpose. Therefore, it is wrong of us to question his character after reading and meditating on this text, but there are some pretty exciting implications that can be found as we dive in.
Another thing (person) to keep in mind while applying this text to our lives is the fact that Christ is the greater Moses. Jesus is the one who is always interceding on our behalf as the book of Hebrews teaches. So let’s make sure to not lose sight of that gospel truth as we look into this instance when God gave Moses the opportunity to plea on behalf of the people of Israel.
The clearest call here is one that involves imploring with the Lord, as we see Moses do. This is something that actually happens often in Scripture, especially in the Old Testament. Often times, God proclaims and threatens judgment in order to convict his people. In most cases, there would be a prophet of the Lord who would intervene on behalf of the people. However, as seen in Ezekiel, at the time when there is no one to intercede, judgment is poured out.
Therefore, we see that God is inviting us to take part in his work. Regardless of what we do, God’s will is going to be done. The invitation is laid before us though. We get the opportunity intercede on the behalf of God’s people, especially when they are in a place of threat. The original text in Exodus, which was written in Hebrew, actually read as a rhetorical command. God was challenging Moses by saying “Unless you intervene, I’m going to act in this way.” Here we see the tension found often in Scripture between the responsibility of man and the sovereignty of God.
As we intercede, there are a couple of things I believe are important to keep in mind.
God is always going to act in accordance with his will, and he has given us his revealed will in his Word. So, as you are praying and begging for the Lord to act in a certain way, check to see if what you are desiring for him to do is in line with his character and what he has said he will do in Scripture. Rather than relying on our own strength and what we think is best, we should be seeking the will of God and echo back to him those qualities of his character that we desire to see him act in congruence with.
We should have a heart that desires to intercede on the behalf of God’s people. However, unless we are engaged, we won’t know what we should be begging God for. Take action on this behalf, turn outward and ask God to give you his heart for the people that he has placed in your life. We are all too aware of our own needs, and oftentimes our prayers are consumed by how we want God to act on our behalf. But we aren’t called to be inward focused. Instead, let’s become mindful of the needs of others and implore the Lord on their account. Let the Lord nurture within you a heart that feels fervently so that we can pray passionately and have faith that the Lord will act according to his Word for those who are hurting.
As we grow to understand who God is by studying his Word and continue to implore to him as we trust that he will act on behalf of his people for their good and his glory, we will cultivate a greater experiential knowledge of him. The principles and truth of Scripture will come to life in our lives. We are in a covenant relationship with a holy and righteous God. He has given us this example, along with others, in Scripture to encourage us to take action by interceding. Intercession has many benefits to our spiritual lives as we have seen. Be encouraged, the Lord will act and he is inviting us to join in.