And the LORD said to me, “I have seen this people, and they are a stiff-necked people indeed! Let me alone, so that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven. And I will make you into a nation stronger and more numerous than they.”Deuteronomy 9:13-14 NIV
In this chapter, Moses recounted Israel’s history of rebellion against God. And central to their rebellion was the incident with the golden calf. Shortly after agreeing to their covenant with God, which included a prohibition against idols and the worship of other gods, they built an idol and worshipped it. Moses was on Mt Sinai with God when this happened. And his words here are what God said to him about Israel’s sin.
God said to Moses, “Let me alone, so that I may destroy them. And make you into a bigger and better nation.” On the surface, it sounds like God is furious and that he wanted to destroy Israel, but Moses was in the way. But that does not make sense. God knew from eternity past what Israel would do here. He was not surprised when they immediately broke their covenant with him. I believe something else is going on here beyond a petulant God expressing his frustration and anger with a rebellious people.
I believe that God was testing Moses here. What kind of a leader would he be? Would he serve the people he led by interceding for them? Or would he accept the honor of replacing Abraham as the founding father of a nation? Moses’ response demonstrated where his heart was at. He pled with God on behalf of his people. And he passed the test. I wonder how often God tests me in the same, but less dramatic, way. Do I place my own advancement over the opportunity to serve others? I pray that I would follow Moses’ example instead.