Not What I Would Have Prayed

It doesn’t seem fair. Sure, he rebelled, if you can call it that (God does). But it wasn’t like the way they had rebelled. The community refused to enter the land flowing with milk and honey, and then they continued to grumble about the wilderness they wandered in, longing again and again for Egypt. He, on the other hand, had not only led them to the promised land, but had interceded with God for their whining, again and again. So, when in frustration he struck the rock instead of speaking to the rock, it hardly seems fair that he too would die in the wilderness along with the rest of them. His sin somehow seems insignificant to their sin. But their sin wasn’t the standard. God’s holy name was. And thus, Moses was to be buried on the doorsill of the land of promise.

So, I’m struck by the fact that when Moses prayed to the LORD, after he was told by the LORD that he also would die in the desert, it’s not what I would have prayed.

So Moses appealed to the LORD, “May the LORD, the God who gives breath to all, appoint a man over the community who will go out before them and come back in before them, and who will bring them out and bring them in, so that the LORD’s community won’t be like sheep without a shepherd.”

(Numbers 27:15-17 CSB)

Moses prayed for “the community.” I would have prayed for myself.

Unlike Hezekiah who prayed for more years (2Ki. 20:1-3), Moses seemingly doesn’t push back on the LORD, at all. Unlike David who cried out for grace and mercy and full restoration after his sin was discovered (Ps. 51), Moses accepts the just consequences of his actions. Rather than prize the promise over the Promiser, Moses doesn’t try to argue or plead his way into Canaan, instead, having known God face to face (Ex. 33:11), He blesses the Lord who gives and takes away by saying, in effect, “Not my will by Yours be done” (Job 1:21, Lk. 22:42).

Pause. Chew on it. Did I mention how I thought I’d pray?

Not only did Moses not pray for himself, but he prayed for them. He interceded, AGAIN, for the community. He supplicated for the very group that had, in so many ways, submarined him. Lifted up those who eventually had been responsible for taking him down. Sought again the welfare of those who had so worn him out.

Chew some more. Not what I would have prayed.

He put others above himself. Understandable self-preservation yielding to unimaginable submission to the sovereign purposes and promises of God. Confident in his relationship with the Father, he cared foremost for those prone to wanting to be sheep without a shepherd.

That’s Moses. And, that’s the one Moses pointed towards, the greater Moses, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. He was faithful to the One who appointed Him, just as Moses was in all God’s household. For Jesus is considered worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder has more honor than the house. . . Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s household, as a testimony to what would be said in the future.  But Christ was faithful as a Son over His household.

(Hebrews 3:1-3, 5-6a CSB)

Moses prayed for the community when he could have understandably prayed for himself. Not what I would have prayed.

Oh, to be more like Moses. Oh, to be more like the One Moses foreshadowed.

Only by His enabling grace. Only for His everlasting glory.

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