Note: This whole post is based on the story found in Exodus 32.
If you went to Sunday school as a child you know the story of the golden calf and how, while Moses was up on the mountaintop, getting the Ten Commandments, Israel built an idol at the base of Mount Sinai. Their worship of this thing turned into a revolting orgy and God was so disgusted that He was ready to destroy them all and start over. When God told Moses about the party going on below and His plans to destroy them, Moses interceded in prayer. God responded to Him by relenting and letting the Israeli's live. Betrayal, judgment, mercy, grace, justice – all were on display at the foot of Mount Sinai.
One has to wonder at why God is willing to reverse His decisions when we pray. This passage is well used by pastors, when teaching our people about the ministry of intercession, however, it was verse 10 that jumped out at me this morning.
Now leave Me alone, so that My anger can burn against them and I can destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.
Whenever I contemplate the topic of intercession, I wonder at why God responds the way He does. We are puny and no-account, riddled with sin, yet He hears us and acts on what we say. I find that amazing! There are two words in that verse that reveal much – so and that. "Leave me alone," God said, "so that"…He could wipe the entire Israeli nation off the face of the earth. The implication is that if Moses doesn't leave God alone, He won't follow through on His plans.
The relationship between God and us is not just a simple He-speaks-we-jump interface. It is dynamic. There is interaction between us, a back-and-forth commerce between the eternal and the temporal. We and God influence each other, changing each other's choices, actions and reactions. He hears what we have to say. Sometimes He is dismayed at our wrong thinking, other times He responds by changing His plans or accomplishing His goals through different means.
Embracing that dynamism is hard. It would be much easier if all we had to do was follow a set of rules and then know that we had pleased God. It just isn't that simple. Of course, no one ever, at any time, has been able to keep to a set of rules. So, even if you think you have a rulebook that will make God happy, it won't work because you can't do it! The Bible says that the only way to please God is through faith (Heb 11:1) and faith is dependent on relationship which by definition is interactive and dynamic.
The dynamism of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ goes far beyond how He responds to our intercessions and prayers. I have walked with Him all my life and am only now beginning to grasp the depth of that concept. Still, just knowing that He hears and responds to my prayers is enough. It's something I can hang my hat on, something solid and real that I can count on. That is worth a lot.