Have you ever watched someone do something that you thought was simply incomprehensible? Have you stared, unable to tear your eyes away, as the insanity unfolded while poor choices were made and inevitable consequences were subsequently doled out? That is the same level of shock and awe that I receive every single time I walk through this account of Scripture with kids. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first time they’ve studied the account or the hundredth time. It’s always the same response…wide eyes, face palms, exasperated sighs, and comments like, “Why do those Israelites have to be so dumb?!”, “Don’t they know better by now?!”, “How did they already forget how God has always provided for them?!” or “Don’t they know God is going to punish them?!” After the kids have had a chance to ruminate in their feelings of shock, judgement, and frustration for a few minutes, I gently remind them of our own cycles of sinful choices.
Moses had the difficult job of being the mediator between God and the rebellious Israelites. A job that I certainly don’t envy. He did a great job of it as he pleaded with God on behalf of His people, remembering God’s promise of blessings and provision. Moses knew firsthand how terrible the Israelites could be to live with, and he burned with anger toward them even as he interceded for them. In the words of one kid, “Boy, I’d have just told God to take those crazy people out if I were Moses!” But that’s not what Moses did. Moses was a great leader and a fantastic mediator; however, Jesus was even better! As easy as it is to sit and scoff at those cyclicly sinning Israelites, it’s imperative for not only the befuddled kids, but also our grown-up selves to walk away from this passage with the appreciation for the solution God has provided for our own looming sin problem. Jesus is the ultimate mediator who intercedes on our behalf. Without His sacrifice and mediation, we’d have no place in God’s family. So today let’s remember the great blessing of the gospel. When we are tempted to walk in our own way and trust our own understanding over God, let’s rehearse the gospel and draw near to Jesus so that our thoughts, words, and actions reflect his glory!