“And the Lord relented from the disaster that He had spoken of bringing on His people.”
In this chapter, we see God’s people give themselves over to total idolatry. While Moses is up on the mountain meeting with God, the people of God put all their gold and materials together, and they put in a fire and form a golden calf, and they bow down and start worshiping a golden calf instead of God. Idolatry and immorality runs rampant among God’s people.
God says to Moses, “You need to go down to this people because they’ve turned aside from me, and I am going to destroy them in my wrath.” Moses steps in as he goes down, and he intercedes for God’s people. Listen to what happens as a result of Moses’ praying.
The Lord relented. What does that mean? God had said He was going to destroy this people. Moses prayed, and God did not destroy this people. Does that mean God was not unfaithful, that He didn’t keep His Word? Oh, don’t miss this. This is a mind-boggling, confusing-causing passage in so many ways, but I only got a couple minutes for dabbing into it here, so I want to be careful not to oversimplify it, but the picture here is, yes, absolutely. According to the Word of God, these people at the bottom of the mountain worshiping a golden calf, they were under the wrath of God, deserving His judgment, yet don’t miss it, it’s God who caused Moses to go down and to intercede for them. Moses takes his place as an intercessor. Under the sovereign design of God, he pleads for God to relent His wrath and show His mercy, and God answers that prayer.
God is ultimately, totally in control in all of this passage, sovereign over everything that’s happening, at the same time, what He’s sovereignly doing is ordaining Moses’ prayers as the means by which His wrath is averted on this people. It’s in Moses praying that grace and mercy is showered out on this people who deserved God’s wrath.
The reason I point that verse out is because you think about the world around us today where we’ve prayed at different points for people and our sphere of influence who don’t know Christ, I want to encourage you like we do oftentimes, lift your eyes for a minute to an entire group of people who right now are under the wrath and the judgment of God. Picture the Ansari people in India. About 10 million Muslims in the Ansari, people in India, and for all we know, there may be no Christians at all among them, no followers of Christ who know the Gospel among the Ansari people. The reality is, right now, they are under God’s wrath. His judgment is coming upon them, is even being experience by them among 10 million people. Just think of how many Ansari people have died today without hearing the Gospel, without knowing God’s love and grace in Christ.
What I want to lead us to do is to pray under the sovereignty of God to take our place’s intercessors and to pray, believing that when we pray, God will answer, that God has ordained prayer to be a means by which His wrath is relented and His grace is showered down, so God, we pray right now. I just encourage you, don’t treat these next couple minutes lightly. God, we come before You right now to pray for the Ansari people in India, 10 million of them, oh God, You love them. You’ve created them for Your glory to enjoy You. You desire their repentance. 2 Peter 3:9. You love the world. John 3:16. Jesus, you have made it possible for Ansari people to know you. You have purchased people for God. Revelation 5. “From every tribe and tongue and nation on the earth,” including the Ansari, so God, please, please, please, relent Your wrath. They’re under Your wrath right now. They are under Your judgment. They don’t know Your grace and Your mercy in Christ, so God, we plead right now.
We pray for them. We pray that the goodness of the Gospel will go to them, that You would cause missionaries, Indian missionaries, American missionaries, missionaries from China, somewhere, anywhere in the world, oh God, cause people to go to the Ansari people in India. God, we pray that those missionaries would proclaim the Gospel to them, and God, we pray that many Ansari would become believers, that they would trust in Jesus to save them from their sins, they would experience new life in You, that the church would be planted, the churches would multiply among the Ansari people in India. God, we pray for this. Please, please, may it be said, may it be said in eternity that You relented Your wrath on bad people in response to this prayer. In Jesus’ name we pray, we plead, amen.