Wednesday, November 09, 2011
REFLECTIONS ON EXODUS 32 AND DEUTERONOMY 9 (PART 8)
I recently taught in a Discipleship Training School in which we considered the idea that love, in order to be love, in certain circumstances must respond in varying measures of severity. While considering certain Old Testament accounts, such as the one in Exodus 32, where large numbers of people lost their lives, one of the students responded with a significant degree of emotion, verging on strong anger (largely toward God), stating that it is not right that innocent children should suffer when God judges a nation or city in severity. Without considering the entire interchange, I would like to make a simple point that was later made to the student in a private conversation. I said, “I noticed that you expressed your concern for those who suffer because of the wrong actions and rebellion of others with quite a bit of passion. Either you can turn that passion into hatred toward God or you can recognize that God is truly attempting to rid the world of such wickedness and work together with Him to accomplish this. There are many ways you can work to alleviate such suffering.”
Notice that Moses responds to God’s declaration of judgment with intercession. There are a number of very strong and important implications that accompany such a response. Moses assumed he could alter the course of events that were about to transpire. Though God declared His intention, Moses proceeded according to the idea that he could offer God an alternative to the course revealed. Moses, obviously, had not been to seminary but he did know God. As we proceed, in future posts, to evaluate the intercession that follows, keep in mind that such an account is not simply an irrelevant Bible stories. Hopefully we will be inspired to become alternative channels and influences God can work with in order to avoid judgment that is otherwise appropriate and necessary. Many people can do the easy work of complaining about suffering but few seem to be available to help eliminate it. Will you be found when God looks for someone to stand in the gap? Notice in the passage below from Ezekiel that prophets, priests and princes, who should have been protecting and leading the people, were part of the problem as opposed to the solution. Who will rise up?
“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” (2 Chronicles 16:9, NASB)
“And the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Son of man, say to her, “You are a land that is not cleansed or rained on in the day of indignation.” ‘There is a conspiracy of her prophets in her midst, like a roaring lion tearing the prey. They have devoured lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in the midst of her. Her priests have done violence to My law and have profaned My holy things; they have made no distinction between the holy and the profane, and they have not taught the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they hide their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. Her princes within her are like wolves tearing the prey, by shedding blood and destroying lives in order to get dishonest gain. And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord has not spoken. “The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice. And I searched for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Thus I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; their way I have brought upon their heads,” declares the Lord God.’” (Ezekiel 22:23-31, NASB)