Are You Willing to Stand in the Gap?

Exodus 32: 11 But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand?

I enjoy books and articles about leadership, because I believe there is a desperate need for strong leaders of integrity.  The title of an article I came across recently really stood out:  “Throwing the players under the bus – a strategy for failing as a coach.”  Even before reading the article I knew I’d like it, because it addresses a pet peeve.  Weak leaders throw people under the bus.  The author refers to a struggling rugby team. Each week the coach would publicly place blame on his players and find new ways of punishing them, eventually even dropping players.  The obvious result was worse and worse performance each week.

Studies continue to prove out that great leaders take responsibility for failure.  In fact, the greatest leaders take responsibility for their team’s failures and give credit to their team in success.  This is not something that comes naturally; it is something taught and modeled out. While such healthy leadership demonstration is not confined to Christianity, it certainly is behavior that is encouraged and modeled out in the Bible.

One of the greatest demonstrations of humble leadership I have ever come across, comes from Moses.  As a brief summary, a reluctant Moses (Exodus 3-4) is chosen to lead God’s people out of Egypt.  But Moses said, ‘Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.’” (Exodus 4:13).  God brings the Israelites out of Egypt via miraculous plagues (Exodus 7-11); then led by a supernatural cloud and pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21); and next saved from the Egyptian Army with the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14).  We continually read of the people rejoicing when God miraculously provides but then days later they grumble.

We read that about 6 weeks after they had miraculously been freed from Egypt “the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron: “If only we had died in the Lord’s hand in Egypt!” (Exodus 16: 2b-3a).  Again, God provides by raining manna from heaven.  Not long after we hear that the people grumble against Moses (Exodus 17:3). At this stage, Moses comes up with a pretty reasonable question for God: “’‘What am I to do with these people?  They are almost ready to stone me.’” (vs. 4).  Once again God provides.  In Exodus 19: 8 we read that the people all agreed to do everything the Lord had said. Not long after, Moses goes up Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20-31).  Upon his return, he sees that the people have built other gods to worship.  Now God becomes very angry:  “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people.10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”  (Exodus 32: 9-10).  Finally!  Moses could have this massive burden lifted from him, and best of all, God would rebuild him into a great nation.  But here is the shocking part: Moses steps in the gap!  11 But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? (Exodus 32:11).

Something happened to Moses in the desert.  He was broken and rebuilt into a leader who was willing to stand in the gap between the sin of the people and a righteous God.  I marvel at this and pray that I would be such a leader.  I pray that all reading this will likewise commit to becoming men and women of God who are willing to stand in the gap, because with such leaders God can do mighty things. Pray that God alters your heart to become such a leader.


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