Moses Intercessor

Daniel showed us some intercessory prayer on behalf of his people which God answered with mighty power. "Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of your servant, and his supplications, and for the LORD's sake cause your face to shine on your sanctuary, which is desolate.

"O my God, incline your ear and hear; open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by your name; for we do not present our supplications before you because of our righteous deeds, but because of your great mercies.

"O LORD, hear! O LORD, forgive! O LORD, listen and act! Do not delay for your own sake, my God, for your city and your people are called by your name" (9:17-19).

And we remember that Moses, even though he was the Law-giver, the deliverer of God's people, the writer of Holy Scripture, and under God his contribution was seen in the building of the Tabernacle, was above all else a man of prayer. He was seen at his best as an intercessor.

Because of Moses' intercession on behalf of the people when God was angry, "therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen one stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he destroy them" (Psalm 106:23) – valuable intercession indeed!

There are five particular occasions when Moses' intercession on behalf of his people, the nation of Israel, are recorded.

At Rephidim: the people were thirsty and had such complaints that Moses was alarmed, even for himself, and prayed to God in his distress: "So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, 'What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me'" (Exodus 17:4).

After the peoples' display of doubting at Massah and Meribah, when they even questioned whether the Lord was among them, then came Amalek to fight with them in Rephidim. And it was revealed to them that there was no victory to be had for Israel, nor defeat of their enemy, by force of arms alone, but intercession gained strength when it was a united effort.

So Aaron and Hur supported Moses' uplifted hands in intercession on behalf of the nation as Joshua engaged their enemies in battle, "and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword" (Exodus 17:12,13).

At Mount Sinai: Moses was in the mountain with God, and at the foot of the mountain the people had chosen to worship a golden calf. "And the LORD said to Moses, 'I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! Now therefore, let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation'" (Exodus 32:9,10).

On the mountain was an angry God; on the mountain was also one who stood in the breach, and the prayer he offered was very costly. "Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, 'Oh, these people have sinned a great sin and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if you will forgive their sin – but if not, I pray, blot me out of your book which you have written'" (Exodus 32:31,32).

At Taberah: once again Moses was concerned for his people. They grumbled and complained, and this displeased the Lord and brought judgement upon them, specially on those "in the outskirts of the camp" (Numbers 11:1) – those that were furthest from God.

"Now when the people complained, it displeased the LORD; for the LORD heard it, and his anger was aroused. So the fire of the LORD burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp . . . and when Moses prayed to the LORD, the fire was quenched. So he called the name of the place Taberah, because the fire of the LORD had burned among them."

At Kadesh: and here we see Moses' concern for the Almighty. God had purposed that His people were to go into the promised land, and the twelve spies had brought their report of the land. Ten had brought an evil report. Joshua and Caleb on the other hand had brought a good report and they urged that the people should go forward at God's command.

There was some quarrelling among them over the issue and it was a disgrace to God, so much so that He was about to destroy them. He was provoked beyond measure. "How long will these people reject me? And how long will they not believe me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they" (Numbers 14:11,12).

Again Moses stepped into the breach. "And now, I pray, let the power of my LORD be great, just as you have spoken, saying, 'The LORD is long-suffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; and he by no means clears the guilty . . . ' Pardon the iniquity of this people, I pray, according to your mercy, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now" (Numbers 14:17-19).

What an intercessor Moses was! "Then the LORD said: 'I have pardoned according to your word.'"

Re Korah: where Moses' prayer was instrumental in removing the obstacles. Korah and a great company of the "leaders of the congregation, men of renown" (Numbers 16:2), with Dathan and Abiram, confronted Moses and Aaron to challenge their leadership, and demonstrate outright rebellion against them. The thing was very grievous to God, and He instructed Moses: "Separate yourselves from among them, that I may consume them in a moment" (16:21).

Moses' and Aaron's prayer of intercession that followed, as they fell on their faces before Almighty God, certainly resulted in the removal of the obstacles to the people's spiritual welfare, but this time they were removed in judgement. "Then they fell on their faces, and said, 'O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and you be angry with all the congregation?'

"Then it came to pass . . . that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, (Korah, Dathan and Abiram), . . . and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the congregation" (Numbers 16:31-33).

The matter has very significant repetition in the Psalms, where in Psalm 106 we read: "When they envied Moses in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the LORD ,the earth opened up and swallowed Dathan and Abiram. A fire was kindled in their company; the flame burned up the wicked" (106:16,17).

So, though "the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, so that he abhorred his own inheritance" yet when intercession was made on their behalf, "he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry; and for their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the multitude of his mercies" (106:40,44).

Moses the intercessor blazed a trail in concerned, persistent, sacrificial prayer on behalf of his people, and he knew that the Eternal, blessed be His Name, would fulfil His Word to them to the last jot and tittle.