So God said he would destroy them – had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach to keep God’s wrath from destroying them. - Psalm 106:23 (NIV)
Moses often found himself at odds with the people he led. Prior to their exodus from Egypt, the Israelites blamed Moses for inciting the Pharaoh’s demand that Israel make bricks without straw.
When Pharaoh’s army threatened to overtake them at the Red Sea, the Israelites grumbled against Moses: “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?”
The Israelites frequently railed against Moses for having no water and no food in the desert. And when they violated the very first commandment by erecting and worshipping a golden calf, Moses was outraged.
But despite Moses’ contentious relationship with his people, when God threatened to destroy them, Moses stood in the breach between the Lord’s wrath and the people’s sin. And because of Moses’ pleading on behalf of Israel, God’s anger relented, and the nation was spared.
Political polarization has reached a record high in our nation today. Our disagreements are marked by angry, sometimes violent, protests and even the threat of another Civil War.
But as children of God, we should remember that we are not just called to oppose the adherents of unrighteousness. We are also called to stand in the breach on their behalf.
The ancient Israelites were probably unaware of how the prayers of the man they excoriated saved the life of their nation. But Moses understood that even though he had the moral responsibility to oppose their transgressions, he also had the moral responsibility to intercede on their behalf.
Vigorous Opposition, Prayerful Intercession. O God, help us to realize the moral impetus between the two. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.