by Don Watson
Moses came down from Sinai and the people were worshipping – not Jehovah who had miraculously delivered them, fed them and led them in a fiery pillar from the bondage of Egypt – but a golden calf – a lump of powerless metal that had done nothing for them. It was gross rebellion. Israel was in the middle of a desert with dangers on every side. Without God’s protection wild beasts could ravage their children, snakes and scorpions would overrun their camp and nations were poised to annihilate this small band of travelers. This apostasy, leaving God for the golden calf, left Israel without protection and an easy prey to all these dangers. They would never survive to inherit the land of Canaan God had promised them. They would all perish unless . . .
“Moses, stand aside. I’ll wipe them all out. If I don’t, something else will. Step aside and I’ll start all over. I’ll make a new nation from your seed, from your children.” What a power trip! These were the children of Israel. They were the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He, Moses, had the opportunity of a lifetime. God was ready, right now, to make them the Children of Moses, the Seed of Moses. Yet Moses, like never before (Not when he boldly stood before Pharaoh, not when he led Israel across the Red Sea), demonstrates what a real leader is. “Oh this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin, and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of the book which thou hast written.” (Exodus 32:31, 32) A real leader is one who pleads with God to forgive His children. But we’re not talking a shallow, mediocre prayer for God to give them another chance. Here was a leader that knew his sinfulness. He knew his own rebellion. He knew he was no better. He had no claim to any goodness that made him deserving to be the father of any nation. “So, God, if you can’t forgive them, blot me out too. I’m just as bad.”
We can never lead God’s people unless we somehow grasp our own sinfulness and the forgiveness of God. For where are we to lead God’s people? To great churches with memberships of 5000? (Not that there’s anything wrong with large churches.) To great doctrines and standards? (Ditto) If God’s people are to make it to the heavenly Canaan, they must be led to the cross, by someone who’s been there. Someone who can tell the prostitute, the pedophile, the homosexual, the alcoholic, the drug addict, the adulterer, the thief, the glutton, the proud, the hypocrite, “If God cannot forgive you, then let him blot my name off His books as well for I’m just as bad.” The world is perishing for the lack of a Moses – Someone who knows God’s love, someone who knows God forgives and someone who intercedes with God on the sinner’s behalf.
You can be that Moses – in your church, family, or neighborhood. You don’t have to be a preacher, a prophet or an eloquent speaker, but be a Moses defending sinners before God and the church. When the church is critical of those who never dress up, never bring food to potlucks, never use deodorant, mouthwash, and breathe in your face, lift them up, serve them seconds, and give them great big hugs and kisses, because, in the presence of God, we stink too and our righteousness is like filthy rags. When someone pulls you aside to share some juicy gossip, pull them aside to the prayer chapel and pray for that person who has fallen and been wounded by sin. Defend the poor because you are poor before God. Defend the prisoner, because you too are in bondage to sin. Defend the sinner because we are all patients in the hospital of the great Physician. And forgive the murderer because we have all crucified our Lord.
After all, where is it you want to lead the people around you, if not to the cross? For, it is at the cross that we behold the kind of mercy we all desperately need. Be leaders who forgive because they know they are forgiven.