You can’t blame Moses for losing it. He comes down the mountain after receiving the ten commandments, and the losers in the valley had gotten completely out of hand. They had melted down their gold, made an idol for themselves, and began to worship their blasphemous creation.
Understandably, Moses goes ballistic:
“So I took hold of the two tablets and threw them out of my two hands and broke them before your eyes.”
(Deuteronomy 9:17 ESV)
Doesn’t it just make you blow your top when someone sins against you? Make you mad enough to throw stuff? Especially when the offenders are folks from the church? Me too.
But you know, I’m not so sure that I have all that much in common with Moses. Listen to what he did after destroying the tablets:
“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. 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.”
(Deuteronomy 9:18-21 ESV)
Moses’ response to the moral failure of Israel didn’t stop just with throwing things. He threw himself into fasting and prayer. He loved the people of God enough to deny himself food and water for 40 days and nights. And the Lord heard his prayer and did not destroy the rebellious nation.
There’s a lesson here for me … maybe for you too. Consider this passage from the book Fasting by Scot McKnight:
“How do we respond when we discover the fresh, fatal sins of others? The story about Moses’ body pleading (fasting) speaks against our tendency to publicize our complaints about others. We have become a culture of cultural critics and a church of church critics. Perhaps more of us need to be quick to convert our concern about the moral failures of others into body pleading for them instead of public words against them.”
My reaction to the sins of others should be grief, not anger. What might be the effect of denying myself through intercession and fasting, rather than indulging myself through hypocritical indignation?
How do you react when confronted by the sins of others?