Then Moses pleaded with the Lord his God, and said, “Lord, why does Your anger burn against Your people whom You have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians talk, saying, ‘With evil motives He brought them out, to kill them on the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your burning anger and relent of doing harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your [g]descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your [h]descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’” So God repented of the harm which He said He would do to His people (Exodus32:11-14)
In this series of posts, I am working sequentially through the Scriptures to complement what I have set out in my book regarding divine providence, identifying passages that I have been shown (by the Spirit I believe) have traditionally been misinterpreted or dismissed as “difficult texts” and their significance consequently eluded. This post may not directly fall into that category, but it reinforces what has been emphasized in the series concerning God’s condescending and compassionate nature towards mankind. More than that, it should encourage those of us who have already been reconciled to God through a personal knowledge of his Son to take the subject of PRAYER very seriously indeed.
The background is the extraordinary sin of the children of Israel who had prostituted themselves to idols in Moses’ absence (Ex32) as a result of which their leader was informed that Yahweh intended to destroy them and fulfil His promises through Moses alone (v10). Yet that great leader interceded for his people; he dared to reason with His God (vv11-13) and HE PREVAILED! God relented, or as the KJV translates verse 14 “God repented”. In this context the word can have nothing to do with sin but indicates a change of mind or heart or the act of being moved to compassion so as to relent; the Hebrew “nacham” (H5162) affirms as much. At least this is how the matter is presented in Scripture: the Spirit as Editor-in-chief clearly intends us to understand that God hears our prayers and is willing to respond positively to our requests providing our motives are right, as Moses’ assuredly were – (see also Gen6:7, Gen18:21,26; 1Sam15:11,35; Mt2:19-22 concerning Gods willingness to review His own actions). As I am constantly endeavouring to assert, Yahweh is no remote, deistic divinity, concerning whom human reason may not be applied (such notions oppose the ministry and teaching of Christ Himself – cf. Lk11). Yahweh had said to man “Come let us reason together” (Is1:18) and as we see with the example of Moses (and earlier with Abraham regarding Lot in Sodom) He takes our petitions seriously and is prepared to act upon them. He truly does regard His chosen and faithful people as His own friends (Ex33:11) and we are privileged to approach Him as such.
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Related post: God's self declared nature & God's intelligible justice