DEVOTION FOR MONDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2017
The Need for Intercession
A popular Christian adage says that God is never late and rarely early, but He is always on time. The Israelites in today’s reading would have done well to remember this truth. Their words to Aaron reveal their impatience with God because Moses was “so long in coming down from the mountain” (v. 1).
The subsequent incident with the golden calf revealed more than just impatience and distrust in God’s timing. Notice that the Israelites were not creating a brand new god; rather, they were attempting to combine their worship of Yahweh with other pagan practices. The calf idol was intended to represent the God “who brought you up out of Egypt” (v. 4), and the celebration was to be “a festival to the LORD” (v. 5). Yet, their direct violation of the second commandment (Ex. 20:4–5) clearly drew upon the surrounding pagan practices of using bull images and indulging in “revelry” for worship (v. 6).
The consequences were drastic. God’s anger was immediately aroused and the people’s very existence was threatened with destruction. As God told Moses, “Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them” (v. 10). Lest we think our disobedience against God is of no consequence, Scripture reminds us of the seriousness of sin.
Today’s reading also underscores the essential need for intercession and atonement in the face of sin. Moses appealed to God’s covenant, character, and honor, and then told the people he would try to “make atonement for your sin” (v. 30). God did not immediately destroy the Israelites, though they did suffer the punishment of a plague (vv. 33–35). Moses’ intercession on their behalf was important, but he couldn’t fully or permanently align their hearts with the Lord. A greater atonement and Intercessor was still needed.
APPLY THE WORD
Practices and beliefs from the culture that dishonor God continue to be melded with what we call Christian worship. Praise God that we have an effective mediator in Christ, who is “interceding for us” (Rom. 8:34). Confess your sins today and give thanks that Jesus’ intercession on our behalf is always effective before the Father.
Today in the Word is a production of Moody Global Ministries