What do we mean when we say that Moses interceded for Israel? Spiritual intercession means intervening on behalf of another person to the Lord through prayer.
Here in Exodus, God showed us what it looks like when one intercedes for someone else. When Moses interceded for Israel, he found himself literally standing between them and God.
Now leave me alone so my fierce anger can blaze against them, and I will destroy them. Then I will make you, Moses, into a great nation.” Exodus 32:10
Let’s look at what happened in the Israelite’s camp that brought God to make such a statement. Going back to chapter 24, Moses climbed up Mt. Sinai to meet with God.
Then Moses climbed up the mountain, and the cloud covered it. Then Moses disappeared into the cloud as he climbed higher up the mountain. He remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights. Exodus 24:15,18
During that time the Lord gave Moses instructions for the tabernacle and all the things that went with it. He also inscribed tablets of stone with His commandments.
Those at the foot of the mountain, however, became very impatient thinking that Moses may have died. Desperation became the product of their impatience.
When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. Exodus 32:1
Unless we aren’t given the whole story, Aaron didn’t try to dissuade the people at all. It certainly looked as though he went right along with their request.
Aaron Made a Golden Calf
So Aaron said, “Take the gold rings from the ears of your wives and sons and daughters, and bring them to me.” Exodus 32:2
After melting down their earrings, he made a golden calf for the assembly to worship. Because of their impatience, they had broken the first two commandments given back in chapter 20.
You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. And you shall not bow down to them or worship them; Exodus 20:3-5
When Aaron saw how excited the people got about this calf, he also built an altar in front of it. Then he announced that they would celebrate the following day.
And the next day they did with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry. God, at that point, told Moses he needed to go back down the mountain. He said this to Moses;
Your people whom you brought from the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. How quickly they have turned away from the way I commanded them to live! Exodus 32:7-8
Moses Interceded for the Sins of Israel
God was ready to destroy these stubborn people and begin over again by making Moses into a great nation. Moses, however, interceded for Israel by standing between them and God.
(Moses said) Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You bound yourself with an oath to them, saying, ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven. And I will give them all of this land that I have promised to your descendants, and they will possess it forever.’” Exodus 32:13
When that conversation happened Moses hadn’t even started down the mountain yet. But then as he got closer to the bottom he heard them celebrating.
He burned with anger and threw the stone tablets to the ground, smashing them at the foot of the mountain. Then he confronted Aaron.
He turned to Aaron and demanded, “What did these people do to you to make you bring such terrible sin upon them?” Exodus 32:21
Aaron’s answer was not very truthful, but you can read the entire account in Exodus 32.
When Moses interceded for Israel it came in two parts. What we just covered was the first part. Moses became a mediator who spoke to God on behalf of the people of Israel.
The verses at the end of the chapter record the second part. This time his intercession involved intervening for them.
The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a terrible sin, but I will go back up to the Lord on the mountain. Perhaps I will be able to obtain forgiveness for your sin.” Exodus 32:30
Moses Interceded by Asking for Forgiveness
When he went before the Lord the first thing he did was confess the sin that was committed. He also acknowledged how detestable their sin was.
Moses was in the presence of God when these sins were committed. Yet he included himself with everyone else when asking for the Lord’s forgiveness.
So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a terrible sin these people have committed. They have made gods of gold for themselves. But now, if you will only forgive their sin—but if not, erase my name from the record you have written!” Exodus 32:31-32
Moses is considered a type of Jesus in the Old Testament. You see, Jesus is the mediator between us and God and we can only enter into heaven through Him.
Just like Moses interceded for Israel, Jesus also intercedes for us. He sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for all who call upon His name.
Lord, thank you for making a way for us to come into your presence through your Son Jesus.
Check out these other related posts about prayer.
- The Necessity Of Powerful Intercessory Prayer
- Seek Forgiveness Of Sins Through Prayer
- Jesus Prayed For Us! Did You Know That?
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