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Response of the Broken-hearted Pastor

Today’s reading: Deuteronomy 9:7-11:32

My selection: Deuteronomy 9:16-20

16 And I looked, and behold, you had sinned against the Lord your God. You had made yourselves a golden calf. You had turned aside quickly from the way that the Lord had commanded you. 17 So I took hold of the two tablets and threw them out of my two hands and broke them before your eyes. 18 Then I lay prostrate before the Lord as before, forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all the sin that you had committed, in doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord to provoke him to anger. 19 For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure that the Lord bore against you, so that he was ready to destroy you. But the Lord listened to me that time also. 20 And the Lord was so angry with Aaron that he was ready to destroy him. And I prayed for Aaron also at the same time.

My reflections: Moses, who functioned as a pastor and preacher to Israel as well as their national leader, had every cause to be devastated by their idolatry. Aaron and the people had witnessed the great working of God in the plagues of Egypt, the deliverance from Pharoah’s army at the Red Sea, and the provision of water and manna in the wilderness. But while Moses was on Mt. Sinai getting God’s law for the nation, they grew impatient and defaulted to a version of idolatry they had, no doubt, seen in Egypt.

How did Moses respond? Anger and fear were his emotions: anger toward Aaron and the people and fear toward God. But he did not become paralyzed or passive. He broke the stone tablets, upon which the law was written, out of anger. Then He lay before the Lord, seeking mercy for the people.

My challenge: What pastor of unbelieving congregation members or what parent of unbelieving children has not felt much of this? Let not our emotions make us also unbelieving and disobedient but rather seek the Lord in serious prayer. Who has not berated himself for the faithlessness of his congregants or children? This is largely fruitless and futile. A spiritual leader can teach and model the gospel but he cannot make those in his care believe or repent or obey. The faithful spiritual leader will turn to God in prayer. Moses saw Israel restored to fellowship with God. They would eventually make it to the promised land.

Is your heart broken by the unbelief and disobedience of those you have taught? Are you seeking God earnestly in prayer for His mercy upon them? Let anger and fear prompt you to diligent prayer. Just be sure it is righteous anger and fear of God.

Tomorrow’s reading: Deuteronomy 12:1-14:29

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