“Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the LORD; and when the LORD heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. The people therefore cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD and the fire died out. So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the LORD burned among them.”
Numbers 11:1-3 NASB
Standing in the gap
I remember my first serious read through the book of numbers. Once I made it through the “numbers” and the details I focused on the person of Moses. I marveled at his integrity and overwhelming desire to serve the Lord. On the surface he was a reluctant servant. He had a place as mediator between God and the children of Israel. Once he began he did not hesitate to lead.
He had the unfortunate position to lead a stiff necked people into the promised land. Like anyone in leadership, he had to deal with the constant criticism of the masses. In their complaints against God, they focused their fury at him. This was a constant for Moses.
Time and time again the children of Israel angered God and time and time again Moses stood in the gap between them and certain destruction. He did not let the attacks keep him from praying for his people.
Moses sets a high standard for me. Like so many human beings I am loved and hated. The love of those who care for me keeps me afloat, it gives me a resting place where I can gain my strength to deal with the rest. Being hated is a daily part of my life.
Approaching me is a two stage process. One first approaches based on what is seen and then what is experienced. Most people that I encounter do not get past the first stage. I am of a race that brings with it strong reactions, either positive or negative. People have inherent feelings that are baked in and are the initial impulse in the first stage of any encounter.
Most of the people who get to know me and dare to move past the first stage, tend to find comfort in my personality. I am a an encourager by gift of God and am mostly fun to be with, most of the time.
Others get lost at the first stage and look for whatever evidence they can find to support their beliefs regarding me. In those situations there is little I can do to change the opinion. These days I don’t even try.
Here is where Moses sets the standard for me. He loved his people. Their complaints and constant backbiting did not prevent him from dropping to his knees to plead with God on their behalf.
Most of the people I pray for from the prayer chair either love me or are neutral toward me. Then there are those who have been hostile. I can say that it is only by the grace of God that I am able to be an interscessor for them. It is by God’s Holy Spirit and His abundant love that I pray for blessings upon those who have uttered cursing at me.
Every reading of Numbers reminds me of my shortcomings. I think of the moments when God desired to destroy them and I doubt I could have been like Moses. If I had my way I would have entered the promised land alone.
My constant prayer of the Lord to lay His heart on mine, that I would have His love and His view of people. It is so hard as we live in a world where it is the standard to take sides. I must be reminded that the only true sides are the lost and the found, that God is the determining One and my job is to tell everyone lost about the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Some of those people are going to hate me because truth can hurt.
Still I must pray.
Jesus set the standard. He went to the cross for people who reviled Him, even as He hung dying to pay for their sins. Moses is a foreshadowing of Christ. He suffered to bring the law and Jesus suffered to fulfill the law and bring salvation.
“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Lord, help me to be like Moses by the power of the Holy Spirit, standing in the gap for those who so desperately need you.
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