Wednesday, November 16, 2011
REFLECTION ON EXODUS 32 AND DEUTERONOMY 9 (PART 9)
The Living, Creator of the universe had delivered people of Israel from Egypt with an overwhelming display of His power and supremacy. The people of Israel, after having the commandments of God spoken to them, quickly turned away and violated what God, in love and for their good, had communicated. God, in response, told Moses to stand aside as He was going to eliminate this people and make of Moses a great nation. Moses intercedes.
There are four characteristics of an intercessor that surface in this passage; humility, compassion, concern for God’s reputation and the expectation that God responds to human intercession. This post is concerned with humility.
It is likely that a correct view of humility is rare. Though we will identify its presence in this passage, it is worth noting that it is clearly stated in Numbers 12:3 that “…Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.” This verse serves to affirm that Moses was, in fact, humble and to challenge our idea of humility in that the book of Numbers is ascribed to the authorship of Moses. It would seem that a humble man would not state that he is the most humble man on earth.
The word “humble” in the Old Testament text implies being poor (in spirit), afflicted, needy, bowed down and lowly. However, it carries with it an accurate assessment of one’s state, as opposed to thinking more lowly of oneself than is true. In the text, God had just indicated that He would eradicate the current “nation” and begin anew with Moses. Such an offer could easily appeal to one’s sense of, both, importance and convenience. Moses could have been the last man standing and the father of the new branch of God’s people. He would have had the task of simply raising a family. The account of Exodus 32, as it now appears, could have ended. However, he turned down the offer that would have given to him this position of great esteem and opted to engage and appropriately deal with the massive number of rebellious Israelites (estimated in the millions) at the expense of raising a family. This humble response laid the foundation for the intercession that follows.
“…the greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23:11-12, NASB)
“You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:5-7, NASB)