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Moses as Mediator

February 13, 2007

Last week, I was studying the book of Exodus, and came across the story of the Golden Calf. Here’s another one we think we know, right? Israelites royally mess up, Moses smashes the 10 Commandments, Israelites get yelled at again, and the moral is “don’t worship stupid idols like calves”.

As we skim through that passage, though, we miss something important: Moses’ role in the story. Here’s the killer bit, from Exodus 32:7-13:

7 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” 9 And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

11 But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’”

Here we have Moses pleading for God’s people. He reminds God of his promise to the people of Israel. However, I find it fascinating that Moses pleads on the basis of God’s glory, and that he does this at the expensive of his own glory. Look at this again: God offers Moses glory – he offers to turn Moses into a great nation. This offer had to be tempting – here is the God of the universe, offering Moses an opportunity to become a great nation himself. However, Moses’ thoughts are not on himself and his glory, but on God and HIS glory. Moses knows how this will be perceived by the nations – as God being powerless to deliver his people to the land that he promised them. “Sure, he got them out of Egypt, but he couldn’t finish what he started.” (Of course, its not like God didn’t know this, but this offer is there to show us the kind of mediator Moses was.)

Moses became a mediator on behalf of the Israelites. He became a go-between between them and God. You see this throughout the Pentateuch. Moses is the one who speaks with God. He speaks on the people’s behalf – pleads for them at times, other times, he receives instruction for them – but he is a go between. Sound like another Biblical character yet?

Moses points us, like the rest Bible does, to Christ. Moses mediates on behalf of God’s people, giving up his own glory for God’s greater glory. Christ does this as well – Philipians 2:5-7 states:

5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, [1] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, [2] being born in the likeness of men.

Christ also gave up glory to become our mediator – the difference being that Christ gave up more glory, and ultimately died a horrible, shameful death in order to speak on our behalf. He gave up his glory for the greater glory of the Father, and this should amaze us more than Moses giving up temporal glory.

One Comment leave one →
  1. MichaelQ permalink
    February 26, 2007 4:31 pm

    Whoa. I have missed the point about Moses being tempted in that way. Thanks for the post.

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