Day Five: Jesus, Who Intercedes for Us

Romans 8:33-35 (NIV)

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

Acts 7:54-58 (NIV)

When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 

At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

“But there is One whose life has been given for us, so that our names would not be blotted out, and One who took our punishment away. There is One whose blood has atoned for our sin when we were faithless and idolatrous. There is One who has perfectly stood the test in the desert for forty days and nights in our place, in whom we can place the our total trust. There is One who is interceding for us now at the right hand of the Father, of whom Stephen said in Acts chapter 7, “Look, I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” His name is Jesus, and as we are God’s people being led through the desert of this world, he has commanded us to wait for him to return to us, so that he himself can lead us.” [Adapted from P. Nate’s message at AMC]

In Acts 7, a young man named Saul stood in approval of those who stoned Stephen to death for his faith in Jesus. At that moment, Stephen proclaimed that he saw Jesus at the right hand of the Father. Later, Paul, as a Christian apostle, writes that Jesus presently intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father. As he wrote these words, I wonder if he was thinking about Stephen’s final words? Today, let’s respond in thanksgiving, worship and prayer as we remember the testimony of God’s Word, and let’s also sing, “Exalted Over All” by Elevation Worship.

– NB


Day Four: At Just the Right Time

Exodus 32:31-34 (NIV)

So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”

The Lord replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.”

Romans 5:6-11 (NIV)

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

“Why didn’t God accept the sacrifice of Israel’s mediator? The answer is not stated in Exodus 32, but we know it from the rest of Scripture. Moses could not die for his people’s sin because he was himself a sinner… As we read through the Bible we keep looking for a Savior, someone to atone for sin… And he [Jesus] is the only man who could make atonement because he alone is without sin… The more we study Moses, the more we learn about Jesus. This is the way the Bible works. The story of salvation keeps getting clearer and clearer.” [Ryken, Philip G. Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory]

The events of Exodus 32 present the first major transgressions of Israel in the desert wanderings that aroused God’s righteous anger. Moses did not know what to do about such great sin, and so he offered the greatest thing he had – his own life! Yet such an offering was not enough, because Moses was himself a sinner. Sinful humanity needed a perfect Savior to redeem them.

As Romans 5:6 says, Jesus died “at just the right time”. Exodus 32 points forward to a Savior who will intercede in a more complete way than Moses, One who will take the punishment we all deserved. And this is how God continues to demonstrate his own love for us in that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. Today, let’s worship our Savior Jesus, as we sing “No Longer I” by Matt Redman.

– NB


Day Three: Standing in the Breach

Exodus 32:7-14 (NIV)

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’

“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

Psalm 106:19-23 (NIV)

At Horeb they made a calf
    and worshiped an idol cast from metal.
They exchanged their glorious God
    for an image of a bull, which eats grass.
They forgot the God who saved them,
    who had done great things in Egypt,
miracles in the land of Ham
    and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
So he said he would destroy them—
    had not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach before him
    to keep his wrath from destroying them.

“In telling Moses to step aside, God made it clear that Moses was the only thing standing between Israel and destruction. But Moses accepted this responsibility and became the great intercessor for the people.” [Garrett, Duane A. A Commentary on Exodus]

“When we approach God on the basis of his covenant, we have the ultimate security. God has promised to save everyone who comes to him through faith in Jesus Christ. We have been saved by the blood of the everlasting covenant (Hebrews 13:20) – the blood that Jesus shed on the cross. And God cannot break his covenant. What a wonderful encouragement this is to anyone who has trouble believing that he or she can still be forgiven. God has promised to save us not just now, but forever. Our salvation is not made secure by our own obedience, which is bound to fail, but by the unbreakable promise of God. As the Scripture says, ‘If we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself’ (2 Timothy 2:13).” [Ryken, Philip G. Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory]

We have the unbelievable privilege and responsibility of intercession “in the breach” in the present already-not-yet age. Like Moses, we base our prayer on God’s promises, which are now guaranteed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Today, let’s spend time in prayer, obeying 1 Timothy 2:1, which says, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people”.

– NB


Day Two: The Golden Bull

Exodus 32:2-6 (NIV) – Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

In the distant past, there was a buffet nearby called “The Golden Bull”,  and, indeed, it had a giant golden bull statue on its roof. When we read Exodus 32, we are probably just as shocked by the appearance of the golden calf as the idol of choice for the Israelites. Yet, the worship of any idol – whether physical or of the heart – is equally out-of-place in the life of a child of God. One of the core themes of the Bible is the removal of idols from our lives.

“What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give… A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would hardly be worth living. An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought.” [Keller, Timothy. Counterfeit Gods]

To build the golden calf, the Israelites “yanked out” the gold earrings they had taken from Egypt without second thought. Today, may we heed Paul’s warning in 1 Corinthians 10:6, “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.” Let’s set our hearts on the Lord alone as we worship to O Come to the Altar performed by Elevation Worship.

– NB


Day One: Wait here … for FORTY DAYS?

Exodus 24:12-18 & 32:1 (NIV) – The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.”

Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. He said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them.”

When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

Exodus chapters 19-31 is a whirlwind sequence of God’s covenant pledge and the people’s response. In the middle of it all in 24:14, Moses gives a simple command: “Wait here for us until we come back to you.” However, after Moses’ absence of forty days and forty nights, there is a quick and unexpected attitude reversal among the people in 32:1.

“The longer the prophet was away, the more impatient the Israelites became. They started having doubts – not just about Moses, but also about God. Their doubts became murmurs, and their murmurs became complaints, until finally they decided to take matters into their own hands. They went to Aaron, who was second-in-command [like an overwhelmed substitute teacher! – NB] and said they wanted to make a few changes in their worship service. They told him to get busy making them a new deity. So Aaron very obediently made the only kind of god he knew how to make: a golden idol fashioned in the shape of a young bull.” [Ryken, Philip G. Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory]

Waiting can be excruciating when we are focused on our own plans. But the Bible tells us in Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Today, how are you waiting? Let’s wait for the Lord in prayer and worship, because the Bible promises that he is on the way! Let’s worship to “Waiting Here for You performed by Christy Nockels.

– NB