Deuteronomy - Lesson 16

Power of Intercessory Prayer Deut. 9.25-10.11

Israel’s covenant with YHWH is based entirely on his grace and they don’t deserve it. Moses interceded on behalf the of people of Israel to ask God to not judge them and God is described as, “changing his mind” and renewing his covenant with them.

Daniel Block
Lesson 16
Watching Now
Power of Intercessory Prayer Deut. 9.25-10.11

Power of Intercessory Prayer (9:25-10:11)

I. Israel's Covenant Relationship with God is Based on His Grace

A. YHWH's fury at Horeb

B. Response of Moses

1. Moses' personal prayer (3:23-29)

2. Differences between the two prayers2. Psalm 23

3. Moses' intercessory for Israel

4. Moses as an intercessor in the Pentateuch

II. Effect of the prayer of Moses

A. God reproduces the covenant

B. Levitical priests installed

C. Claim the land

III. Lessons From the Text

A. Prayer

B. Grace of covenant relationship

C. Leadership

  • The book of Deuteronomy contains the gospel message. Even though there are some laws mentioned, the essence of the book is prophetic preaching. Your presuppositions and principles for interpretation that you use will make a difference in how you view the meaning and significance of the book of Deuteronomy.

  • Deuteronomy is primarily a collection of sermons but its structure is covenantal. The structure of the covenant was commonly used in other cultures in the Ancient Near East during this time period. God tells the people of Israel that he is their God and the people say that they are God’s treasured possession. (Note: Mt. Sinai and Mt. Horeb are referring to the same thing. They are used interchangeably)

  • God gave the Decalogue to Moses so they have authority as Scripture. The book of Deuteronomy as whole is also Scripture. It contains the speeches of Moses and narrative passages. It’s the lense through which we view the other books of the Pentateuch.

  • Moses begins by recalling events that happened during their wandering in the wilderness, then recent events as they have gotten closer to entering the promises land from the east. Moses is idealized in the Old and New Testaments and in the writings of historians. You get a different picture when you read his first address. It shows Moses as faithful but flawed.

  • The Law was given to the nation of Israel after they had been freed from Egypt as the way to respond to God’s grace. God gives them the boundaries for right and wrong and a process to restore relationship when it is broken.

  • With the privilege of salvation and covenant relationship comes the call for a righteous response, demonstrated in joyful obedience to the Savior and Lord. A covenant is a formally confirmed agreement between two or more parties that creates, formalizes, governs a relationship that does not exist naturally or a natural relationship that has disintegrated.

  • God’s people are a privileged people; they have been graciously redeemed, and set apart as his special treasure, his holy covenant people. God acts graciously to undeserving people and they respond joyfully with obedience. The is the end of the first speech of Moses, Deuteronomy 4:32-40.

  • The Decalogue is the bill of rights of the people of ancient Israel. It is the ten principles of covenant relationship. It creates a picture of covenant righteousness and provides a foundation for later revelation. The Decalogue contains the features of a typical covenant and conditional and unconditional laws. The addressee is the head of the household because they can be a threat to others.

  • When Moses recites the Decalogue in Deuteronomy 5, there are parts that are similar to the passage in Exodus, and there are some significant differences. He begins with getting the attention of the people of Israel and appealing for covenant fidelity, restates the Decalogue, then ends with a document clause, using covenant language.

  • The Shema is a call for whole-hearted, full-bodied commitment. This passage is a theological exposition and pastoral proclamation to impress on the minds of the people of Israel the special relationship they enjoyed with YHWH. The grace God showed them must be embraced with grateful and unreserved devotion to their redeemer and covenant Lord.

  • God chooses the covenant partner, sets the terms, declares the goal, identifies the sign and determines the consequences of disobedience of the covenant. After Moses explains the purpose of the Law, he explains to the children how the Law was given and that learning it and putting it into practice will bring them life.

  • Moses talks to the people of Israel as they are entering the land, about how they will respond to the external test of confronting and dispossessing the surrounding nations. He reminds them of their special status with God and the covenant that he offers them unconditionally. He challenges them with the theological, ethical and missional significance of the test.

  • How can you worship a God that asks the people of Israel to wipe out the Canaanites? The reason for Israel taking the land is so the people of Israel as a holy people will be preserved so the world will be preserved. God is fundamentally compassionate and gracious, he does what is right and God offers us grace and mercy.

  • When everything goes right, what do you do then? The message of this passage is, “don’t forget.” YHWH provided manna in the wilderness to feed the people of Israel. God was also teaching them in the wilderness that life comes from every word of the mouth of God, not just by eating physical food. Moses challenges the people to respond to prosperity by praising God, not by taking the credit themselves.

  • The enemies in the Promised Land are formidable. God promises to defeat them. Moses warns that people to acknowledge that God is responsible. Even though the Canaanites do not follow God, the reason God chose the people is not because they are morally superior to the Canaanites.

  • Israel’s covenant with YHWH is based entirely on his grace and they don’t deserve it. Moses interceded on behalf the of people of Israel to ask God to not judge them and God is described as, “changing his mind” and renewing his covenant with them.

  • “What does YHWH ask of you?” Moses answers this question, then gives a doxology to confirm it and an application to illustrate it. God wants you to have a soft heart toward him, to live in an attitude of trusting awe and to act in a way that honors the covenant that God has established with you.

  • Moses has given a profound theology of land. He gives the people of Israel instructions for what God wants them to do when they enter the land to confirm their covenant with God. This included using uncut stones and plastering them and writing the Torah on them and then praising God. The land is an integral part of the covenant. The people shout blessings on Mount Gerizim and curses on Mount Ebal.

  • As the people of Israel enter the land, God has instructions for them on how to live in relationship with him and worship him so that it may go well with them and their children. They are to reject the false worship practices of the surrounding nations and accept God’s invitation to come and worship him in the place and in the way he has designed for them.

  • The Levites represent a barometer on where the people of Israel are in their ethical religion. They are not given land as an inheritance so it is the responsibility of people in the other tribes to support them. Moses presents a theology of worship but doesn’t go into detail.

  • This is a warning to the people of Israel to not imitate the materialistic preoccupation and the brutal rituals associated with the worship practices of the surrounding nations when they worship YHWH. There are warnings against following false prophets, someone in your family or people in your community if they are promoting seditious religious practices. The apostle Paul uses similar language in the New Testament when warning people about following people who teach heresies.

  • In contrast to worship with the purpose of satisfying the gods, YHWH delights in fellowship with his people and for them to celebrate in his presence. YHWH encourages his people to eat in his presence and with other people. His guidelines about which foods are acceptable to eat set the people of Israel apart from other nations.

  • A main purpose of the national festivals was to keep alive the memory of God’s grace and maintain their faith in god and their covenant with him.

  • Moses describes the key offices and roles that keep the society going by providing political and spiritual structure. The primary concern is righteousness. The king is to be the embodiment of Torah righteousness. Moses outlines specific steps to achieve this and describes what it will look like.

  • Moses, in his role as prophet, is the commissioned envoy of righteousness to the people of Israel. Moses was a mediator between God and the people of Israel. He warned the people of Israel about false prophets and the danger of adopting the worship practices of the surrounding nations.

  • Moses provides a picture of covenant life and godliness in a way that you can apply it to every situation in life. It’s important to care for the poor and the resident alien and to show justice to them. The resident aliens were invited to participate in the feasts and covenant life.

  • The ideal for the people of Israel was a patricentric society but in often the reality was a patriarchal society. In a patricentric society, the male head of the clan will provide resources and security in a way that gives his family and the community opportunities to flourish. The vision for women in Deuteronomy is different than the world that is described in Israelite narratives.

  • Celebrating God’s goodness and grace in the Land. Bringing an offering from the firsfruits of the harvest is a time to remember how God has provided for the people of Israel in the past, both as individuals and as a community. There are lessons we can learn about worhship and living faithfully. This is the Deuteronomic creed.

  • Some people view the curses in Deuteronomy 28 as a stumbling block to accepting the Old Testament as Christian Scripture because they say it represents God as vengeful. However, this was a common way of writing covenants in the Ancient Near East, they follow a list of extraordinary blessings, they serve a pastoral function and there are similar curses articulated in the New Testament.

  • Deuteronomy 29 begins with Moses recounting how YHWH brought the people out of Egypt and gave them victory in the land east of the Jordan River. Then he describes the curses they will experience when they turn away from the Lord. Chapter 30 describes the eschatological restoration. Deuteronomy 29:29 refers to the mystery of divine grace. (The movie and book series that Dr. Block is referring to is Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien. The prequel to this series is The Hobbit.)

  • This is the final altar call of Moses to the people of Israel to appeal to them to choose life by living in covenant relationship with YHWH. The revelation of YHWH given through Moses is to be memorized, recited and used as a guide for conduct. It is understandable and doable.

  • The Torah that Moses has been preaching was written down. This is the introduction to the song of Moses and contains the commissioning of Joshua, who will take over after Moses dies. Part of the book of Deuteronomy is the death narrative of Moses.

  • This passage is a poetic witness to the people of Israel of the faithfulness of YHWH and the faithlessness of Israel. Moses was told to teach it to the people of Israel so they could pass it on to their descendants. People could sing it throughout the day and it could be presented as a musical drama at national celebrations.

  • At the end of the sermons of Moses, he pronounces a benediction by saying something specific for each tribe. Deuteronomy 33 and Genesis 49 have some similarities and differences in the way the sons of Jacob and their descendants are blessed. The exordium and the coda frame the blessings by describing YHWH’s care and provision for the people of Israel as their king.

  • This is the last narrative story about Moses in the Old Testament. God tells him to go up on Mt. Nebo where he is able to see the land. Joshua takes over as the leader of the people. There is a eulogy for Moses at the end.  

The Gospel according to Moses. This is a collection of sermons of Moses as the people of Israel are poised to enter the promised land after being in the wilderness for 40 years. Deuteronomy is a special book, calling God’s people to celebrate his grace and demonstrate covenant love for him with action that glorifies his name. Until we recognize the gospel in this book, we will not read this book. (Note: Mt. Sinai and Mt. Horeb are referring to the same mountain. They are used interchangeably)

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Power of Intercessory Prayer Deut. 9.25-10.11

Lesson Transcript


[00:00:00] In this session, we will finish up our discussion of the golden calf affair, the golden calf fiasco to highlight how if the Israel that is standing in front of Moses as he delivers these farewell addresses is the people of God. It is sheer grace. So let's see how this works. We'll review quickly what has happened to this point. But the focus here will be on Israel's agent of grace. Illustrating the power of intercessory prayer. Where would Israel be if there hadn't been an intercessor? Grace would not have hit them. Well, the hypothesis Israel's covenant relationship with Yahweh is based on the nation's intrinsic moral superior superiority over the Canaanites. That's what the people had been proposed. He's testing the hypothesis. Israel's history exhibits no evidence of moral superiority. The new hypothesis Israel's covenant relationship with Yahweh is based entirely on gracious sovereignty. And then finally, Israel is the undeserving beneficiary of Yahweh. His Grace. These two things are what we will talk about now. The new hypothesis and the proof of the new hypothesis. We are finished with the worship of the golden calf. But Moses isn't finished telling us his story. For some reason or other earlier, he says, I interceded on behalf of your behalf at that point. But he doesn't give us his prayer. He doesn't come back to talk about the prayer until after he has made his point. You guys are rebellious. That's all I've known about you and I could talk about Titus, Barney and Hot Off and whatever else. These other places where you proved who you really are. But having made that point. Then he steps back and says, Hold on a minute. We've got a few more things to talk about here. How did we get here? How did we get here? Verses 12 to 14.


[00:02:33] Then Yahweh said to me, Get up and go down from here immediately, because you're people you brought down on whom you brought home Egypt have acted corruptly. They've immediately turned aside from the way I charge them to walk. They've made for themselves a molded image and the opposite to me. I've seen this people, they're stiff neck and leave me alone, so I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a stronger nation. But then what is Moses do? His response to Yahoo's fury. Well, in order to understand his prayer here, we have to look at the other prayer. That we didn't actually spend much time on at the end of chapter three. The background to this prayer within the book is Moses earlier prayer in the book. Now, chronologically, these two prayers are 40 years apart. And chronologically, they're in the opposite order. But the way the book is written. Whoever arranged these addresses arranged it in such a way that if you're thinking of Moses, the prayer warrior, the prayer that's ringing in your ears is chapter three, the end of chapter three. And that is so different. At that time, I pleaded for Grace to Yahweh. Oh, Adonai, your word. You've only begun to show your servant your greatness and your strong hand for who is a God in heaven on Earth, who can perform great actions like this in mighty deeds like you do. Please let me cross over and experience the good land beyond the Jordan, this good hill country and the Lebanon. There's this prayer. But notice, notice the prayer. It's all orthodox and it's how prayers should start or add on, really, when we pray to God. This is a recognition that He is our Susa and Adonai.


[00:04:43] Greek Curious. But then in translation it becomes old. And the nine year old. Curious. Curious. But this is why we have to keep the personal name here. O Adonai my sovereign. But he addresses him by name and then he flatters him. Now I'm using that word intentionally here because the normal pattern of a biblical prayer motion. Greenberg has written a book on biblical prose, prayers, prayers that are inserted into prose narratives. They typically have this order of the address to God or ADD or Nyala, and then you have a dark, solid G. You begin your prayer with praise to God, from whom all blessings flow day. Some of David's prayers are our magnificent prayer, not what's the prayer of Jabez or whatever else the book I should have thought of that I wouldn't have had to work another day in my life. But in any case, it's in Chronicles. But. The Book of Chronicles is filled with magnificent prayers. David's prayer is an absolutely spectacular, and he begins in this way by acknowledging his small staff as these are V God, that's so appropriate. But given where Moses is spiritually, in that first address, I get the sense that Moses is flattering rather than being genuine. I think there's a problem here and he says, Who is a God in heaven like you? There's nobody like you. Theologically, it's all true, but the tone of voice here is probably somewhat suspicious. So let me cross over and experience them. I mean, all he's concerned about is let me cross over and experience the good land. Literally see the good land. But the word for see often means simply. It means to experience. To handle $0.02. God takes him literally. Unless he says yes. I'll let you see it.


[00:06:56] Go up to the top of the mountain. Have a look. But of course, that's not what Moses has in mind. I want to touch it. I want to feel the dirt. I want to smell it. I want to eat the fruit. This good hill country and the Lebanon all the way up north. But look at God's response. But yeah, he was angry with me because of you. And you refused to listen to me. You don't listen to me. That's enough. Shut up. Would God say that? I have a feeling that's what it is here. Don't speak to me about this anymore. Climb to the top of Mr. Pisco and look out to the west and to the north. And to the south. Look with your own eyes. You say you want to see it. I'll answer that prayer. But you will not cross this Jordan. Instead, charge Joshua and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this trip. Wouldn't you love if you were in Joshua's place, wouldn't you love to have Moses preach your ordination sermon? When you know he's grousing the whole time. Levie So we remained in the valley near best PR for as far as Moses got. Well, there's humungous differences between these two prayers first. Whereas Moses prayer here was intended to stave off divine fury against others. By here I mean Deuteronomy nine. The goal of the ledger actually earlier in the book, prayer was personal and private. Indeed, Moses seems embarrassingly self-absorbed. It's all about his own personal experience. Second, whereas at Horeb, Moses was willing to sacrifice ambition and life itself. He doesn't say that here, but in Exodus, blot out my name. But save this people. He does this to win the favor of Yahweh on the people's behalf.


[00:09:08] It's an extraordinary self-denial. His account of his personal prayer reveals a man focused on himself and the satisfaction of private wishes. Third, whereas his prayer at Horeb consisted of profound theological arguments. His request in chapter three involved merely a personal desire. Please let me go in to see the land. Moses could at least have declared his intention to celebrate Jaffe's faithfulness to the answers. I'd like to cross over the Jordan to celebrate that you have kept your promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Maybe even set up a memorial altar in God's honor. He could have done that like Abraham did at check him when he crossed over in the first stopping point. You're there, buddy. And what's he do? He builds an altar. You could have done that, but he doesn't. Most telling of all, without a hint of acknowledgment of his own culpability for an offense that had precipitated the Lord's closing the door to the Promised Land for him. When Yahoo! Rejected his request, he blamed the people. It's your fault. Can cross over the border. God answered his prayer. Literally, he let him see the land, but he also answered it. No, you're not going over. Stop it. I don't want to hear again of this. And we actually do. Here again. He mentioned it in chapter four. Again. It's your fault. He's a stubborn recruit like some of us. Well, here, Moses. Intercessory gesture. We learned about this already in verse 18. Then I threw myself down before Yahweh, as I'd done for 40 days and 40 nights. I ate no bread, drank no water because of the great sin you'd committed by doing the evil. 40 days and 40 nights he wrestled with God. On Israel's behalf. This is amazing.


[00:11:25] This is 40 years ago. What has happened to Moses in those 40 years and his attitude toward the people, his attitude toward God, whatever else. Which is why I'm shocked that he ever reports that event in that first address. Moses doesn't do himself any favors by reporting it. We don't think more highly of him before it. But obviously the author. Had this manuscript in front of him. And on that manuscript, there's. It's in the text. Moses. Moses, you're saying this. I was terrified because of the furious anger that Yahoo! Had against you. You had united against you to destroy you. But again, yeah, we listened to me and your sinful object, the caf. I burned in the fire and I made you drink it. And against Aaron also, you were angry. And I prayed and God answered my prayer. What a difference. What a difference. One prayer. God answers with a no. Yet don't think about it. It's not going to happen. And the other one, which actually deserved the judgment, a moses in the first case claims it's not my fault I'm innocent. Let me go in here. The people actually deserve the judgment, and God backs off completely. Well, his disposition, Moses disposition is clear in chapter 25, where he falls down before God. But now look at his prayer. It begins in verses 26 to 2 to the end here. I prayed to Yahoo! And I said, Oh, sovereign Yahoo! Hey, did you see that? He starts out exactly the same. Oh, Lord Adonai. Yeah. Way. Do not annihilate your own special pals. That you're your people. What had God said? I had said to Moses, Your people whom you brought out of Egypt, Moses says he throws it right back to them.


[00:13:46] Do not annihilate your people, your own special possession, whom you regained with your great power and brought you brought out of Egypt with a strong hand. Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Do not pay attention to this People's stubbornness, their wickedness, or the sudden overlook its. Act as if it had never happened. Otherwise, the country from which you brought us will say, because Yahweh was unable to bring them into the land as he promised, and because he hated them, he brought them out to kill them in the desert. But they are people. Your special position, whom you brought out by your great power with your outstretched arm. And that's the end of the prayer, I think. It is. The chapter ends there and it doesn't even say. And the Lord changed his mind. If you go to the Exodus version, at that point, you'll have and the Lord changed his mind. NEEDHAM Whatever that version or whatever that word means, the Lord withdrew the threat and he didn't kill. He doesn't say that here. It's just quiet. He is just stuck this prayer in. But we need to we need to look at this prayer. There are three texts in the Pentateuch that give us Moses as an intercessor. You have Exodus 32, this same event, but the narrator is telling the story. He remembers the prayer in numbers 1413 to 19. After the Kadesh Barnea fiasco, the Lord says, I'm going to wipe them out and Moses intercedes again. There you have a prayer, and then you have Moses recollection of this prayer. But his arguments here are very interesting. He he begins with Israel is your people, not mine. This he's correcting Yahweh. Second, he says, Yahweh has invested great effort in saving the Israelites from bondage of Egypt.


[00:16:01] And by implication, this means to destroy them would mean all of that was wasted. What was the point of that? Accomplished nothing. Third, he says, hold back for the sake of the patriarchs, overlook the sin. Remember the ancestors you promised their descendants will get the land. And fourth, your reputation among the nations will be damaged if you destroy them. They will think you were unable to carry through on your agenda or you were at deliberate. You are a monster. You brought them. You tricked them into coming here in order that you could destroy them here. You can't afford that. Your reputation's at stake. Because he hated them. That's what they will say. They won't see the human causality. They'll see only your causality. And then he ends. As he began. He began. Israel is your people. Your inheritance. Whom you brought out with. You are a great power. They're not mine. They're yours. It's not. Don't leave me with this lot. Finally, Yahoo! Has invested a great effort in saving the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt, and by implication, to destroy them would mean well. Now I've got all of those three prayers color coded here with the arguments, and you will notice of the three renderings of the prayers. This is the. In the others, it's the narrator remembering the prayers. And he read. He reports what Moses prayed. Here it's Moses, autobiographical and it's the fullest. But you will notice that he some the color coded indicates the order in which the arguments come. So that the point Israel is your people, not mine, comes at the beginning here and it comes again at the end. Twice he does this. But the other that you've invested great effort look at you've redeemed them from Israel.


[00:18:14] Why would you kill them now? So it's a waste. Hold back for the sake of the ancestors. And then your reputation among the nations is at stake. And then he concludes again, You've invested all of this energy in them by redeeming them with his signs and wonders and all the rest. Why would you let that be wasted like this? Now, of course, technically, you could say that none of this is necessary, because if God begins. And new with Moses. He hasn't actually betrayed his promises to the ancestors because Moses is a descendant of the end of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So it just means that we're we've got now a chain link of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and we're going from there. It can still work, literally. But of course, the amazing thing is God lessons. God accepts the argument. It is the rhetoric of Moses prayer. I find this quite extraordinary, quite remarkable, the arguments he uses to get God to change his mind. Now, I haven't expressed that in very firm Calvinist terms. And our theological friends on that side of the theological spectrum there find all kinds of ways of. Diminishing the significance of what's actually happening here. But the word in in Exodus is very strong. Your nikam Nikam. It's the same word that you have in the book of John on John. John doesn't want to go to Nineveh, but the second time when the Lord says and gives him the message, immediately, you are to say to them, 40 days and Nineveh will be overthrown. And Jonah says, I can preach that. So he goes and he preaches. And 40 days and it's over. And the most awful thing happens. The nerve to repent and then invites, say, who knows? Yahweh may change his mind.


[00:20:31] Same word Nikam. Withdraw the threat and spare us. And that's exactly what happens. Well, Jonah is furious. He burned at the nose. That's a very strong expression. He said I knew this would happen. I knew what you are like. You are gracious, compassionate and slow to anger and abounding in love and kindness. He's quoting Exodus 34, six and seven. He's learned his catechism lesson. Well, that's the problem. And so the topic of this sermon on on, Jonah, is what's wrong with God? And it is that he is gracious. That's what's wrong to Jonah. I mean, he's the bigot, isn't he? Well, here. What's wrong with God? He is gracious and he spares his people who absolutely do not deserve it. Ever since I've known you. You've been evil. Well, Israel is your Jewish people, not his. Don't annihilate your people. Second, Yahweh has invested great effort by delivering them from the bondage of Egypt, whom you redeemed. Third, hold back for the sake of the patriarchs, overlook their sin. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for ya, whose reputation will be damaged if he destroys Israel? They think you're a demon. Actually, they did this already at at the Red Sea, remember? They get to the Red Sea and they've been excited. We're leaving easily and with hand-held high, they're marching and an end and then we're out of here and they get to the Red Sea and oops, see in front fortresses beside and they see the dust of Pharaoh's chariots coming and they say, Is it because the Lord hated us that He brought us here into the desert to destroy us? Well, if I had been God at that moment, I would have said, Fine, make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. But he doesn't raise that moment here in his illustrations of their rebellion and faithlessness.


[00:22:44] But this is this is what is going on here. And finally, the reputation among the nations will be damaged. Otherwise, they'll get the wrong impression about God. And he can't afford that. But they're your people, not mine. You have done all this for them. What happens? Well, in Exodus. So, yeah, he changed his mind about the disaster. He said he would bring on his people. And that is not my translation at this point. It's a Christian standard Bible. Except that I've changed it to Yahweh. You know, I altered that part of it. The Lord, I struggle with that one. Yeah, it's concrete gestures. Well, what happens here is the text. Moses never says at this point, God answered my prayer. He doesn't say God changed his mind, but instead the disposition of God is reflected in God's reactions. So what happens here? Well, at that time, the Lord said to me, Carve out two tablets of stone like the first ones and come up to me on the mountain. Make yourself a wooden chest. I will inscribe on the tablets the words that were on the first tablet which you broke. This is not accusing him. You shouldn't have done that. He's not. I don't think we should interpret that as scolding Moses for having broken. It was a symbolic gesture. Moses is the spokesman for God. He represents God. Then you shall deposit them in the chest. So I made a chest of acacia wood, carved out the two stone tablets. Like the first one. I climbed the mountain with the two tablets in my hand. Then Yahweh inscribed on these tablets the same text as the previous ones had, namely the ten words that if I had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly.


[00:24:35] And he gave them to me. And this brings us full circle in Exodus chapter 24, he said. Moses come up to me on the mountain that I may give you the tablets. We're back, but covenant is back. And then I turned and went down the mountain and put the tablets in the chest automated. And there they are. Though they are by now. They have built the tabernacle and they built the Ark of the Covenant and they all know they're in there. That is confirmation that the covenant is on again. What Grace? What mercy saw the first concrete act of God's acceptance of this same people as His covenant people is that stone tablets proof Exhibit A second he install solar vertical priests as guardians of the covenant. We tend not to recognize the significance. And there's a parenthetical comment. Oh, by the way, at that time, Yahweh set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the Ark of Yahoo! Which covenant to stand before your wife to administer and to pronounce the blessings in his name as they do to this day. This is the marriage or the person who produced the book. Inserting a parent's medical comment. Oh, by the way, this is not what Moses is saying. He is the author of the book saying that was the moment and the the dedication of the Levites to this task is proof that the covenant is still on. He has his Guardians of the Covenant. That's the Levites role. We'll have more to talk lot more time to talk about the Levites later. But here we see their role. For this reason, the Levites have no allotment or grant of land with their brothers. Yahweh is their grant, as he told them. It's all about the covenant.


[00:26:46] It's all about the covenant. And then third, he tells them to resume the journey to claim the land that. He had promised by covenant and also to the answers. I remained on the mountain another 40 days and 40 nights there decided we got 40 more days as I had done previously. Yaphe listened to me at that time and he agreed not to destroy you. Then you always said, Get up. Time to move on. Continue on your journey ahead of the people so they may possess the land that I promised an oath to the ancestors to give them. In the presence of three witnesses. A truth is confirmed. The coven is back on. This is not a different covenant. There are some people who will argue that this is a different covenant. But the terms are the same. The tablets are the same, identical to the past. What's happening here? The covenant is back. It had been broken. And if it hadn't been for the grace of God, it would have remained broken. But God never breaks a covenant. The people have opted out. The covenant hangs on the promise as their promise to the ancestors. And so it is all in place. This is a this is a great text. I love this passage because for many reasons. For many reasons, one of which is its lesson on prayer, the power of prayer. James five. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Well, how righteous is Moses? Well, at this point, there is no doubt about his righteous. This is early on in the journey. I wonder if God would have answered the same prayer if this generation of Israelites had done this and Moses had tried it, because we've seen a different Moses in between.


[00:28:44] But the point is, when the righteous pray three outcomes are possible. One Sometimes prayer is the process whereby external circumstances change, and that's what happened here. That changed. The world changed. X 12 Peter is in prison and the people are all having a prayer meeting and. An earthquake happens. And the chains fall off and they walk out and Peter goes to the door of the house where they're meeting. He knocks on the door and rode out. Agreed. Something. You're not supposed to be here. Shocker. She can't believe this. I mean, you're praying this happens and it happens and you can't believe that happened. But prayer prayer matters. Sometimes this happens. Prayer changes things. I mentioned yesterday above the dining room table or when you're sitting behind the wall of the table, on the other wall, there was prayer changes, things. My mother was a woman of prayer. And I've got to say, I am the answer, God's gracious answer to her prayers. We wouldn't be here if it weren't for God's grace which is activated through prayer. Sometimes prayer is a process whereby the will of the person praying is changed. And brought into conformity the word of God. You know, prayers. That's a conversation, isn't it? And sometimes it is the process whereby we can get God to do what we want him to do. That's happened here. Moses arguments. Suede. God, that's not Calvinist. It's language. But it's the way the story is told. But sometimes God says no. But we are the ones who are to be changed. Remember Daniel and his three buddies? It's actually Daniel's three buddies. They're thrown into the fiery furnace. Nebuchadnezzar says if you don't back down to this image, I'm going to make the furnace seven times hotter, for which God is able to snatch you.


[00:31:07] Rescue you from my hand. And what do they say? Or King live forever. I mean, they're still always respectful. These guys of King live forever. If it's a matter of power. Our guard is able. To rescue. As from your hand. But even if he doesn't. It's okay. We will not bow down to your image. And so there you have it. The people praying are the ones who are absolutely resigned to the will of God. Sometimes. But as it turns out, God did, in fact, rescue them by sending another. There was a fourth person that I refer to as Where did he come from? Or You remember Amos. You're working with Amos. That is in your Bible study when you get to about chapter seven or eight. Amos, in a vision, sees this the storm wind coming in and burning all the burning everything down and destroying Israel, his people. And Amos says, Oh, Lord, stop. Jacob is puny. They can't handle this. And God backs off. And then the locusts come in and they destroy again. And he prays again, and he, God backs off, He spares them. And then there's a third phase in this vision. He sees the vision of a plum line. And what does Amos do? Nothing. He's done praying. He's not going to stave off the judgment. He knows now the judgment is that it's deserved. So in this case, prayer is the process whereby God got his prophet to see. The justice, the righteousness of his actions. And so that's, you know, resignation to the will of God is then the mark of faith. It's not measured only in how much we can get God to do for us. It's how much God can do in us. This is why Moses is such a fascinating character.


[00:33:23] The story of Moses in Exodus begins as an adult. It begins with God wrestling with him in chapter three and four. I want you to go and get my people out of Israel. And Moses has five big arguments in which he says, I'm not doing this. I'm not going send anybody you want, but don't don't send me. And at that point, God gets angry till that point. God is just he talks with him. Who am I? I'm nobody. He says, that's not your problem. That's my problem. It's who I am. You know, I have no talent. He says. That's my problem, too. I'm the one who made the mouth. So there are four or five arguments. But when Moses says, Send anybody you want. I'm not going. Then God gets angry. Finally. But in that wrestling match, Godwin's, because the next scene is Moses is off to Egypt. I mean, it's a folly without a transition in the text. Next thing we see is just got just been angry with him and he said, I'm not going and Moses is going. God won that wrestling match. But the story of Moses ends with the story of another wrestling match. In which Moses lets us see that he won. What a transformation of this person who resists the will of God vehemently at the beginning. But at the end, Wow, what a butterfly has come out of this caterpillar cocoon. It's an amazing story. Well, it's a lesson on prayer. It's a lesson on grace of covenant relationship. I mean, God doesn't expect perfection. But his grace keeps kicking in, and it does here as well. But then find on leadership. True leadership. Is about the well-being of the people. God puts leaders in positions for the sake of the people, not the reverse.


[00:35:27] And when we look at a text like this one, that's what we see. Unlike the first one there, the leader is acting in self-interest and bitterness toward the people. Not not so here. Well, that's the grace of covenant relationship. You know, Paul talks about we begin our life of faith of of of regenerate people by as you have begun by faith. So continue by faith. If the beginning of our life with God is grace. Every step along the way is grace, because at every turn we disqualify ourselves from continued. Privilege of serving you. This is a great passage. Dr. BLOCK When Moses prayed and God changed his mind. How does that inform us about the nature of God? Because we look at prophecy and how God plans things ahead of time, sometimes even before the foundations of the world. And and we see prophecies that are. That we know have been fulfilled sometimes hundreds or even a thousand years later. Mm hmm. And so. If God's in control and if he's sovereign and he has things planned ahead of time, how do we talk about him changing his mind? How does that fit when we look at his nature that. How does that fit with his sovereignty? Well, probably next to the question about the ethics of getting rid of the Canaanites. This is the question that gets put to me probably more often than any other. And of course, our theological systems drive us to certain positions on this. Which I find sometimes are not always helpful. And obscure. The vibrancy, the vitality, the living ness of God's relationship to those with whom he enjoys a covenant with. After discussing Jonah's frustration with God and the narrator's saying that God changed his mind, the word here is Nikam, which means to do an about face on something.


[00:38:10] This word is actually used of both directions. Sometimes God changes his mind about the good that he had done. And. To change the mind is probably not the best translation. The word expresses the emotional. Dare we use the word turmoil that goes on in God's mind over what is happening? God reacts. In Genesis six, it grieved God that he had made humankind on the earth, and he never harmed. He changed his mind. And what does he do? He destroys the world with a flood. So it's they're going from good to bad. In this instance, it was going from in the case of Moses intercession, the word is used of going from bad to good. He threatened to destroy, but then he backed off. And didn't do it. He withdrew his hand of judgment. But of course, the way we answer those questions tends to fall into two opposite camps. And they have labels which aren't always helpful, because the moment you label something, you can be very dismissive of anybody with that label. And so but we call these camps the Calvinist approach to divine sovereignty and human freedom and the Armenian approach. The two principal approaches represent the extremes, and we have the labels Calvinist and Armenian. I doubt whether Calvin would have been where many people who claim the name Calvinist these days were on these issues. As I read him, I find him to be much more sympathetic to actually that a softer version of divine sovereignty, which is why I prefer the expression rather than sovereign grace gracious sovereignty. I find that more helpful. The other extreme is represented by the name are many, and from Arminius, who was a free will or his focus was on the freedom of of human beings to do what they want and God doesn't interfere.


[00:40:53] Again, these are exaggerated position, but according to the Calvinist approach, the Calvinist answer to this question of the relationship between divine sovereignty and human freedom. Let's let the red represent sovereignty and the green represents human freedom. In the Calvinist world, the divine sovereignty overwhelms human freedom, and there's very little room for the involvement of humans in the actions of God. This is this is these are extremes. But actually there are very few people on the actual extremes. But that is a picture of that with the Armenians. It is the opposite issue. And so that God shrinks the vision of God as being sovereign over all creation, that He is mine. This shrinks and the emphasis is entirely or or almost entirely on human freedom to act. Human responsibility for human actions. These are the two extremes. But I think when we wrestle with expressions like God changed his mind about destroying Israel. We actually need to go to something like this. It is not either or. In fact, if you want to count verses, I have a sense that they are many in understanding the texts involving an and many and understanding outnumber texts involving the Calvinist understanding would be 1000 to 1 in Scripture. The assumption is always human responsibility for human fate. It's how it talks all the way through. It's how Deuteronomy, we'll have this debate again in chapter 30, where God circumcise his people's heart. Does it Does he do it because they repent or turn around and then he certainly. Or is it. Or is it, you know, freely done without the involvement of the humans? But in any case, I think the right one both are totally true. In my view, God is absolutely sovereign over everything and he does what he wants and he decrees what he wants.


[00:43:36] And it turns out in the end, according to the Divine Plan. That doesn't mean he's always satisfied or he is responsible. Isaiah will talk about I create shalom well-being and I create RA. Disaster. Now there are some translations will have I create evil? No, no, no, no, no, no, no. It's not a moral issue here. It is a an experiential issue. When you accept the evil spirit from God that comes upon Saul and comes upon Abdelmalek. And that is not morally evil. It's an it's a spirit from God that creates havoc. In the person's life. It's evil in that sense. God does both. He blesses. He curses. And and so in a case like this, the mystery is how these work together. Both are totally true. So that when Moses prays and God backs off. The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man. Works. It's because Moses prayed. That's a strong word. There are some people who will resist that. They will say something like, Well, it's hypothetical prayer. That's what it turned out this way anyway. No, it's not hypothetical. Moses is dead serious. He takes it absolutely seriously. And so the outcome isn't predetermined apart from human involvement. But the other side of this is God's relationship with creation, especially with human creation created as is images. This is a living relationship. And it's like in a marriage where the the health of the marriage depends upon the two parties to the relationship interact with each other. And the way one acts affects how the way the other. It's action and response. It's always that way. And with God, it's that way, too. It is. God gets furious because of human sin. And God delights in life. Rather than judgment, you know, also so that both of these things are true and so there isn't a formulaic answer.


[00:46:14] I was teaching a course on the Book of Ezekiel at one point, and my older brother number three, my older brother was in the class and he has been fully involved in the Mennonite church. And Mennonites tend to be or the stereotype is that Mennonites are all Armenian. Well, I have a feeling that he probably was over there on that issue, but it was a course on Ezekiel. A pastoral theology of ministry from a women course. He was in my class and he and his wife came over for supper one day and he he just blurted out, You're such a Calvinist. Really? My Calvinist friends don't view me that way. But of course, it depends where you are. And I told him, Look, when I am in Cuba, where he's got this radical theo centricity, I'm preaching Ezekiel. I'm not preaching, Jeremiah. Jeremiah has a different tone and I'm going with the text. And somehow or other, the full picture gives us the total picture of God. And there are always on the one hand and on the other hand. And this is why over over time, my students have been very frustrated with me because No labels fit. They keep asking me where you are. And this, you know. Are you here or are you here? It's on almost every issue. And I. I land myself in that notorious middle where I get shot from both sides and nobody's happy. A lot of frustrated people out, you know. So it is middle road with two ditches. And I think we need to be aware of both ditches. To me, that's the problem. It's the extremes always that the problem that gets us fighting the church. It splits the church and whatever else. So part of it's the mystery of God, too, and the fact that we can pray and it actually makes a difference.


[00:48:26] It actually makes it. And how did this happen? I think that's why when Peter knocks on the door and they say, How did you get here? Yeah. She slams on his face and she goes back and says, Peters, I don't want to let him in. But I think this is why the life of faith should be a life of surprises. And what I resist in the Calvinist extremism is the reduction of life to formulas. There's no place for adventure. The serendipity. And so I. In that middle road, you can live with the confidence that God knows absolutely what he's doing and in the end, what he sets out to do gets done. Absolutely. He never will drop us. But the other side of this is one of he's holding us here and we're in his hand and we decide to jump out. Does he prevent you from? Jumping out. We all know people who apparently have jumped out. But that's the word to use a parent. It appears they have. But my goodness, sometimes appearance may actually be the reality. So we are secure in God because he will not fail us. This is chapter four, verse 3231. God will not fail us. He will not turn his hand over like this and drop. But what he does. I mean. Solomon. What a man at the beginning of his reign and what an utter disaster at the end. And Ezekiel tells us and Ezekiel, the most Calvinist of all the prophets, Ezekiel says, the person who sins dies. And he says it's not how you begin the journey that counts, it's how you end it. And he says, If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does wickedness. And he dies. It's the judgment of God.


[00:50:53] But if the wicked man turns from his sin and does righteousness in the latter end of his life, he shall live because he repented. You know, so that's a tough text. It's a really tough text for the extreme Calvinist. And I don't I'm not happy with what they do with it. They pretend it's not a true text. They make it say whatever it needs to say for the system. And I think we should never. The high view of Scripture lets us lets the Scriptures take us anywhere it wants without without us prescribing what questions we can ask of it, or dictating what answers we allow. And our theology has to be big enough to include every scripture. Which produces mystery, doesn't it? I don't know. So.