While Christians hold certain truths about God to be absolute (such as His omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence), there are many passages in Scripture that are difficult to reconcile with His unimaginable scale and power. There are passages where God’s nature, His reactions, and the way He interacts with His people seem so very human.
While it’s crucial that we never forget our reverence and fear of God’s unearthly glory and His perfect goodness, it’s also important that we pay attention to His most cherished relationships in the Bible and learn from those.
One of my favorite examples of such a relationship is between God and Moses. Moses is one of the most influential and righteous figures in all of Scripture, and his role is due in no small part to his intimacy with YHWH. Time and time again, we see Moses and the Lord share deeply intimate moments and bare their hearts to one another.
In Exodus 32, after the Israelites worshipped a golden calf, God is so angry that He tells Moses to leave Him alone so He can destroy them and start a new nation with Moses. Why does He tell Moses to leave Him alone? Because the two are close, like friends, and they are familiar with each other in the relational sense. God knows Moses will plead with Him, and Moses knows God will hear him.
Indeed, with the boldness of a close friend, Moses does ignore God’s command and approaches YHWH anyway. He intercedes on behalf of the Israelites and begs the Lord to spare them – not for their sake, but for God’s!
“Why should the Egyptians speak and say ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the Earth’?”
– Exodus 32:12
Moses appeals to God’s nature as an oath keeper. As a friend looking out for YHWH’s good name, Moses holds God to His Word so that He does not appear to go back on it. Sure enough, the Lord “relent[s] from the harm.” God allowed a close friend to come into His circle and plead with Him on personal, intimate grounds.
After God grants Israel mercy, this is what the Bible tells us:
“All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door. So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.”
Perhaps more than any other story in Scripture, Exodus demonstrates God’s close relationship with a faithful servant – and perhaps more importantly, what it can look like if we pursue that same type of intimacy. God allowed Moses to intercede in ways that most others could never dream of, simply because Moses sought after God’s heart and treated Him as someone to speak to, someone to be familiar with.
To learn more about God’s character and what it’s like to pursue an intimate friendship with Him, check out Why We Worship and Hearing the Voice of God. Visit www.ISOW.org today to get started on an affordable online biblical education!
– Matt Herr, Managing Editor