Bible Reading: Exodus 32:1-14; Hebrews 7:25
Title: Moses- the Intercessor
Theme: Moses foreshadows Jesus, who intimately identifies with us and serves as our intercessor before God.
In an awesome display of power, God sent ten plagues upon the land of Egypt.
Finally Pharaoh begrudgingly let God’s people go. They were saved from slavery!
Soon after Pharaoh regretted that permission; he chased after the Israelites.
But God parted the Red Sea, so his people could walk through on dry ground.
Right behind them the water over Pharaoh and his chariots; they were swept away.
In the desert God showed his presence in a pillar of cloud by day- a pillar of fire by night.
Now God descended on Mt. Sinai- displaying his power and majesty yet again-
with thunder and lightning and a thick cloud and a loud blast like a trumpet.
Then God spent 40 days and nights with Moses and inscribed his law for them in stone.
But get this: after all God had done, that was just too long for the people to wait.
They made a golden idol: in the shape of a calf. They bowed down to this idol.
They gave it credit for rescuing them from slavery! After feasting they indulged in revelry.
What an irony: while God was busy revealing his law, they were busy breaking it.
What a soap opera! Moses had every reason to give up on these people in disgust.
In fact, God himself was ready to! In his pure holiness God was appalled- angry.
He was repulsed by their pagan impulses. It roused his righteous wrath!
Here is a first doctrine embedded in our text: God hates unfaithfulness and disobedience. He cannot tolerate sin. It arouses his wrath.
Now, all we’ve known is a sin-broken world. So we’re familiar with unfaithfulness. We’re familiar with people violating God’s law. We’re familiar with self-indulgence. We’re familiar with people giving loyalty to other gods. So, we almost yawn over it.
Developing the mind of Christ involves regaining a holy hatred of sin + the damage it does.
Here’s a second key doctrine embedded in our text:
God not only hates sin, he will oppose it. He will bring divine judgment on wrong-doing.
In vs. 9 God says: I have seen these people and they are a stiff-necked people.
Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them-that I may destroy them.
It looked like Judgment Day was coming, like the flood in the days of Noah.
There was a time in our history when people generally recognized a coming judgment.
But not so much today. In our culture we lack as keen a sense of God’s judgment on sin. Perhaps some people just don’t know about it. Perhaps others don’t believe it.
Perhaps others just ignore it. After all its a pretty uncomfortable truth.
Even in Christian circles it seems our mindfulness of coming judgment has faded.
How many people are troubled by their sin? How many fear God- in the true sense?
How many people are earnestly dedicated to avoiding sin- no matter what?
Now a third truth about God: in his anger at sin + judgment, he still honors his promises. He said to Moses: Then I will make you into a great nation.
So, he would still honor his promise to Abraham to make a great nation + bless all people.
Now, you’d think Moses had every reason to welcome of God's idea.
Not only were the people quick to disrespect God; they were quick to grumble against him. And God was offering him quite a perk- to make Moses himself into a great nation.
In ancient cultures there could be no greater honor or legacy.
So, you’d expect Moses to say something like: God, it sounds great to me. Go for it.
Instead a stunning surprise: Moses has the opposite reaction.
"O LORD," he said, "why should your anger burn against your people,
whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand?"
Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people.
In this dramatic moment, Moses pleads- he intercedes with God for the people.
In this Moses points to Jesus. As Hebrews 7:25 says: Jesus is able to save completely
those who come to God thru him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
1400 years before the Messiah was born, Moses foreshadowed Jesus- our intercessor.
Now, the concept of an intercessor may not be terribly familiar to some of us.
Let me give you a modern example- from the American classic: To Kill a Mockingbird.
In a small, southern town a black man is falsely accused of raping a white woman.
Atticus Finch is a local lawyer. Despite threats he defends poor Tom Robinson.
When the case is tried, Finch makes a plea for Robinson; he intercedes before the jury.
It’s interesting that the Apostle Paul actually pictures Jesus as a courtroom intercessor. Paul himself was dragged into many a court. In Romans 8 he pictures a courtroom: Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?
It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns?
Christ Jesus... is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
The Heidelberg Catechism captures this.
Question 49: How does Christ’s ascension to heaven benefit us?
Answer: First, he pleads our cause in heaven in the presence of his Father.
Friends: Here’s an awesome truth to feast on: Jesus always lives to intercede for us!
When you drag yourself out of bed in the morning, Jesus is interceding for you.
When you sit down at the breakfast table, Jesus is interceding for you.
When you head to school or work, Jesus is interceding for you.
When you face difficulties and stresses in life, Jesus is interceding for you.
When you come home tired and beat, Jesus is interceding for you.
Think about it! Jesus always lives to intercede for you! What good news!
You may be stiff-necked, like the Israelites. Jesus is interceding for you- like Moses.
You may be disgusted by how you've messed up- again. Jesus is still interceding for you.
You may not even be aware of it- but Jesus is interceding for you.
Now, not every plea a lawyer makes on behalf of his client is successful.
My brother Joel once defended a case that was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.
So Joel bought a new suit. He got a nice haircut. My parents traveled to Washington DC.
But in the end his plea before the Supreme Court was turned down.
In contrast, Moses’ plea was successful.
And notice, the basis for his appeal. He never appeals to the people’s good character. That would be a losing cause. Moses only appeals to God’s reputation.
Why should the Egyptians say: It was with evil intent that he brought them out?
An appeal to God’s good name among the nations; that was powerful and effective.
Vs 14: The Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he threatened.
Moses’ success as an intercessor foreshadows Jesus’ success.
As Hebrews 7 says: he is able to save completely those who come to God thru him. Not only do we have an intercessor, we have one who is able- effective, successful.
In the fullness of time Jesus’ suffered on the cross; there he interceded with God for us.
Jesus cried: Father, forgive them. In his tender mercy God forgave us thru Jesus.
What a favor! That's why when Jesus was born the angels announced:
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.
Moses. Jesus. And now another link in this gospel chain: us.
In I Timothy 2 the Apostle Paul writes: I urge… first of all, that requests, prayers, intercessions… be made for everyone. Intercessions.
Just as Moses and Jesus interceded with God, we are called to intercede with God.
James 5:16 adds: The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
I think of the story of John Wustman: during college he turned his back on the church.
He went on to have a brilliant career in music, moving in the most acclaimed circles.
He pursued music for forty years- all along cynical about the church and its message.
Yet, over all those years his mother faithfully prayed for John, interceding for his soul.
Then in his 60’s, John’s dear wife Nancy was struck down by cancer. He was left alone.
It caused him to take stock of his life. Somehow he decided to give church one more chance.
When he visited the gospel touched him. He came back. He received Jesus as his Savior.
I was the pastor at the church. What a story! Rebellion; a mother’s intercession; God’s mercy.
Parents, a special word to you. There are many ways for you to love your children.
You change their diapers. You clothe them. You protect them. You pay for music lessons.
Don’t forget this: if you love them, you’ll pray for them- every step of the way.
Faithfully interceding with God for your kids is one of the greatest acts of parental love.
I urge that intercessions be made for everyone- for kings and all those in authority.
A word to us as citizens. These days there is no shortage of criticism about government. You know how it goes: They’re all a bunch of crooks.
And some criticism may well be deserved. But how often do you intercede for them?
When we intercede for others in prayer, we show ourselves to be true followers of Jesus.
I have seen these people, the Lord said to Moses, and they are a stiff-necked people.
Now leave me alone so my anger may burn against them-that I may destroy them. Things looked grim. But then Moses interceded with God. And God showed mercy.
Moses foreshadowed Jesus. Jesus always lives to intercede for us- always. Good news!
Faith Church December 9, 2018