I’m more Israel than Moses

Israel had been in Egypt over 400 years and couldn’t wait a few days for Moses to come down the mountain with the commands of the Lord. They defaulted to what they knew: the gods of Egypt.

I’m more Israel than Egypt. I don’t wait. I default.

The command of the Lord is to wait. It’s not because he is mean. It’s because he has to get Egypt out of us as he applies the power of the Kingdom to our lives.

Lord, forgive my impatience! Teach me to wait!

Lousy Leadership and Powerful Intercession

Next Sunday I am preaching on Moses and intercession. The main text I am starting from is Exodus 32-33.

Moses has taken too long on the mountain, in the opinion of the Israelites. (They were in slavery 400 years and Moses is taking a few days. Go figure.) They quickly turn to worshiping a golden calf they forged out of the gold they had taken from Egypt.

God’s anger burned and he wanted to wipe out Israel and start over with Moses. Moses gives us a powerful picture of intercession over and over. As the leader of Israel, I’m convinced he may have spent more time on his face than on his feet. Israel needed a lot of intercession!

God relents from destroying them, but then Moses meets up with Aaron to get an explanation. Aaron offers one of the lamest excuses I think I could ever hear from a leader. He’s been left in charge and he has allowed the people to go right back into the slavery of idolatry.

His excuse: “They gave me all this gold, I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!

One passage gives us powerful examples of what is right and what is really wrong. Moses is the picture of powerful intercession. When he goes back up the mountain to intercede, he simply tells God, “If you don’t forgive their sins, then blot me out from your book as well!” He lays it on the line.

Aaron, on the other hand, simply passed the buck. He wasn’t going to be left standing without a chair when the music stopped. He blamed the people. He blamed the gold. He blamed the fire. He blamed everything but himself. Leadership takes responsibility and owns up to the disasters as well as owns the victories.

Moses is the picture of intercession I will be looking at this week.

Getting God to Change His Mind

This isn’t a very good Calvinist post. Good thing I’m not a Calvinist.  I’m probably not an Arminian, either.

I love Exodus because it messes with Calvinist and Armininian viewpoints. It brings the tension of the action of God and the action of humanity into sharp relief.

In Exodus 32 Moses has been up on the mountain receiving the covenant from Yahweh. Israel gets impatient. They’ve been slaves for 430 years and they can’t wait 40 days.

They slip right back into Egyptian mode and demand something to worship. Aaron, fine leader that he is, has the Israelites collect all the gold goodies they brought from Egypt, cranks up the fire, and builds them a couple of golden calves.

“These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (Ex. 32:4, CEB)

Shockingly, God is angry. This is why the God of the New Testament is SOOO much better. (Just ask Ananias and Sapphira.)

God is ready to wipe them out. Moses intercedes. God changes his mind. 

There are those who love to talk about the power of intercession and how we can move the hand of God. There are those who are completely uncomfortable with the idea of God changing his mind, so they skip this passage or work out some scholarly explanation.

I see God changing his mind twice.

He has brought Israel out of Egypt because he wants to draw them to himself. Now, he changes his mind? 

The Lord spoke to Moses: “Hurry up and go down! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, are ruining everything!They’ve already abandoned the path that I commanded. They have made a metal bull calf for themselves. They’ve bowed down to it and offered sacrifices to it and declared, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” The Lord said to Moses, “I’ve been watching these people, and I’ve seen how stubborn they are. 10 Now leave me alone! Let my fury burn and devour them. Then I’ll make a great nation out of you.” (Ex. 32:7-10, CEB)

He is ready to destroy them and start over.

Moses isn’t the only one to “change the mind of God.” Israel did it first. Their unruly behavior and utter disdain for the holiness of God sent God into thoughts of starting over.

Then, Moses intercedes and God changes his mind again. 

I have no great profound thoughts. All you Calvinists will get me straightened out on this passage.

What I find in this passage is not only the powerful intercession of Moses, but the incredible impatience of the people of God. They just couldn’t wait.

There are clear lessons for us. We want God to answer us in our way and in our time and when he takes his sweet time we want to take our bat and ball and go home. We are so impatient when it comes to waiting on God. Maybe our impatience changes the mind of God more than our “fervent prayers.” (Or our lack of fervent prayers, anyway.)

My impatience with God lately is a huge temptation. I get impatient with what to do in the way of income and I panic. Anxiety sets in. I try to solve problems on my own.

My foolish actions to try and solve my problems when God is trying to get me to wait on him may make God change his mind. He may step back and say, “Well, Dan, have at it. You want to get this thing solved on your own? Give it a shot.”

Maybe my quick action is changing the mind of God.

Maybe I need the heart of Moses on these types of decisions. I think I’m more like Moses than the children of Israel. I don’t build golden calves. But I AM impatient. And perhaps my impatience is changing God’s mind more than my perceived “powerful” intercession.

Call it what you want… God changing his mind or something else… it often our actions that are like the children of Israel that create a response rather than our action in prayer.

We need to be people of PRAYER rather than people of impatience. God… help us. Well… help ME.