Exodus 32:10-11 (ESV)
Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you." But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, "O 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?
While Moses was with God on Mt. Sinai Israel convinced Aaron to make them a Golden Calf to worship. God's response was to say, "I (will) consume them (and) make a great nation of you (Moses)." The next two words are significant, "But Moses…" "Moses implored the LORD." The word "implored" (ESV) is translated "entreated" in the NASB, "besought" in the KJV, "pleaded" in the NKJV, and "sought the favor of" in the NIV and NET. Clearly it is a word that is not easily translated. It is related to a word that means sick or weak, and means to mollify (soothe or appease), entreat, or seek the favor of someone. From a human perspective God was angry, but Moses calmed him down and mediated another course of action.
We can debate what it means that, "the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people. (Ex 32:14)" I will try to address that in a later post. The bigger question for today is: What did Moses say? How did he pray? To what did he appeal that had such an apparent impact on God? Moses prayer addressed two significant motivations for God to "change" his course of action. First, Moses appealed to God's reputation or glory. Verse 12 begins, "Why should the Egyptians say…" All of creation was designed to express the glory of God (Ps 19). People were created in the image of God, reflecting his glory (Gen 1:27; 2Cor 4.4). Christians are instructed to "do all to the glory of God. (1Cor 10:23, 31)" All that God does demonstrates his glory. Moses, then, appeals to God in light of his glory. He essentially says, "God, if you destroy your people and start over with me it will smear your reputation in the eyes of the Egyptians." God had displayed his glory through the plagues, the exodus, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the destruction of Pharaoh's army. To now destroy his people in the wilderness would tarnish that reputation of a great and all powerful God who is God of gods and Lord of lords. Moses appeals to the LORD on the basis of that which will bring glory to God.
Secondly, Moses appeals to the LORD on the basis of his own word. He says, "Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, 'I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.' (Ex 32:13)" The Scripture says that God cannot lie, (Titus 1:2) and so Moses appeals on the basis of God's own word.
I think that too often our prayers tend to be, "God, it is terrible that this person should have to go through this, please give them relief. We really like them and we don't want to see them suffer." Yet Jesus, the one person who actually deserved something from God, never said "Take this cup from me because I'm a good person." Rather he said, "Take this cup from me, nevertheless not my will by yours." Jesus understood that what was about to happen was for the glory of God and according to the word of God. It wasn't about his personal comfort. Our prayers tend to be man-centered. "God, we don't want to see this person suffer." "Lord, they are a faithful servant of yours…" "Father, help us! We're don't know how much longer we can hold out." We've all prayed these prayers, but they are all man-centered, not God-centered. Moses didn't pray, "LORD, don't destroy them. They are my friends and family." He prayed on the basis of the glory of God and the word of God.
Father, I confess that too often my prayers have been more about me and my friends than about you, your glory and your word. Forgive me. Today, begin to teach me what it means to pray for your glory and on the basis of your word.
By His grace,