Moses was “God’s kind of leader.” Leading the Hebrews was arduous, to say the least – and being a pastor in one of God’s churches has many similarities. Exodus 32 recounts a rough time for Moses, the leader of God’s people. After receiving the Law of God, he was sent down to deal with the people, who had “corrupted themselves” (v.7.) On his way down he met Joshua, who, (through no fault of his own,) heard “war,”(v.17.) But Moses heard “sin” (v.18-19.) Moses recognized the great paradox that was occurring: in the very hours God entrusted the Tables – the “work of God” and “the writing of God” to His people, they were violating it! Moses threw down the Tables in disgust – they were of no effect to a people such as this! Oh, how he must have despised them! His own brother gave that wicked excuse “there came out this calf,” (v.24,) but Moses discerned that Aaron had “fashioned it with a graving tool” and “made” it himself (v.4.)The intense distaste that Moses held for the wickedness of God’s people was manifest in his response: he “ground to powder” the golden idol, and fed it to the transgressors (v.20.) Moses famously asked, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Let him come unto me.” He separated the clean from the unclean, and made no concessions for sin. He openly declared to the people that they had “sinned a great sin” (v.30,31.)
In the midst of all the personal betrayal and spiritual rebellion that Moses experienced, he exhibited a leadership trait that is lacking in spiritual leaders today. Was it this, more than all the others, that endeared him to the very heart of God the Father, and caused Him to speak to Moses “face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Ex 33:11?”
This is the selflessness of Moses. It could be called many things, but “selflessness” seems to capture the sum.
The selflessness of Moses is first seen in his intercession. When the people had done their worst, Moses went to the Lord on their behalf. Their sin was against the Lord, but it also was a personal affront to Moses, their leader. They had gone against his earthly leadership, and questioned him personally: “As for this Moses…we wot not what is become of him” (v.1.) While many leaders might wallow in self-pity, or become indignant, Moses interceded. This is the purest nature of intercession: selflessness. It is not simply the asking for something on behalf of someone else, but the attitude of willingness in that intercession to sacrifice for someone else. Consider Moses as he toiled back up that steep mountain – how he must have considered the events he witnessed. He was not quite sure that the merciful Lord would forgive so severe a transgression. “Peradventure,” he said – it must have been fearful to venture such a plea, guilty as they were! But, in the heights, perhaps in the very place where Moses had received the Tables engraved by the finger of God, he entreated the Lord for the sinners below: “Yet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin—” (v.32.) He paused. For just how long is unknown – but it was long enough for the massive weight of sin’s burden to overcome his spirit. He left his plea unfinished. Then he began to consider the people. He pondered not only the sin committed, but the penalty that must accompany it. Moses realized – the Lord may not forgive! He may bring judgment on the people, and He would be just to do so!
The selflessness of Moses is secondly seen in his identification. Moses was willing to identify with a people who had turned their back on God – not to throw in with their rebellion, but to be an advocate before the Judge. Moses, though righteous as he descended from Mount Sinai, was willing to condescend to their level, not putting himself above their base position (v.32 – “blot me.”) Moses was willing to lose the freedom he had because of his righteousness, because of his great love for others. Does this sound familiar? It should – the Lord Jesus condescended for all of mankind. “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6,7.) No, Moses did not limit his own power in the same way that the Lord Jesus did, for he never owned it – nor did he possess “equality with God.” But Moses did put aside a free and clear standing to identify with a sinful, needy people. He could have stood above them in judgment, but instead he stooped with them in jeopardy.
How many preachers have stood in judgment, when not as righteous as Moses? How many pastors have distanced themselves, (as if they belong high above,) from those in sin? Not to excuse sin – no, Moses didn’t do that, and neither should spiritual leaders today. Publicly, he decried sin – privately, before the Lord, he identified with the sinners. How earnestly have preachers knelt before the Throne, interceding for others? Let the man of God stand strong in the public reproving and rebuking of sin. But personally, let him consider the humble identity and earnest intercession of God’s kind of leader.
J. Stockton, Asst Pastor
Community Baptist Church
Quakertown, PA