Imagine you're at church on a Friday for the usual Friday Service. Service just ended and you're about to leave the sanctuary to go home, when a Pastor or Intern asks you to clean up some trash on your way out. You look around and see empty, plastic cups lying under numerous chairs, as well as empty styrofoam plates with residue of that night's dinner on the table in the back of the sanctuary. Now you know it's not any of your trash, and so you say, "but it's not my garbage," because you feel it's not your responsibility to clean up other people's messes. You're not wrong, but what if Moses looked at the Israelites and said, "their sin isn't my sin," and didn't intercede on behalf of the Israelites?
NOTES ON THE TEXT
14 Let me alone, so that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven. And I will make you into a nation stronger and more numerous than they.
God was angry. God delivered nations that were bigger and stronger than the Israelites, right into their hands. Yet, the Israelites remained sinful and rebellious. They created and worshipped a Golden Calf. God had every right to be angry. God had every right to wipe out the Israelites just for their sins, but...
25 I lay prostrate before the Lord those forty days and forty nights because the Lord had said he would destroy you. 26 I prayed to the Lord and said, “Sovereign Lord, do not destroy your people, your own inheritance that you redeemed by your great power and brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 27 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Overlook the stubbornness of this people, their wickedness and their sin.
Moses. For forty days and forty nights, Moses was face down on the ground, praying to God to show mercy on the Israelites. For forty days and forty nights, Moses took the responsibilities of the Israelites for their sins upon his shoulders. For forty days and forty nights, Moses didn't eat or sleep, so that the Israelites could live not just to see another day, but so that they could walk into the Promised Land. Moses couldn't even enter the Promised Land after the sin he committed back in Numbers, yet he was up on a mountain, laying face down for forty days and forty nights.
In light of recent events, I believe this passage is timely. With the Paramus bus crash, the school shooting in Texas, and the plane crash in Cuba, we have a lot of interceding to do. It's not your mess, it's not your sin, but just because it's not yours shouldn't be the reason to not take responsibility. We are called to bear each other's burdens, just as Moses did for the Israelites, and just as Jesus did for us.
Today, take the time to pray for the people affected by this past week's tragedies. Pray for the families who lost a child, for the lives taken, and for the people who have committed these sins.
From now on, seize the opportunity to look out for your brothers and sisters in Christ. Reach out to someone every week, or pray for someone every day.