“Therefore he said he would destroy them—
had not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach before him,
to turn away his wrath from destroying them.”
Psalm 106 is a beautiful and horrible poem. On one hand, the love and faithfulness of God described therein touches the heart and thrills the soul! But then, the reaction to that love and faithfulness on the part of God’s people is continued disobedience and faithlessness.
Verse 23, quoted above, is referencing Exodus 32:9-14. Moses descends from Mt. Sinai to find that these people – who just recently were delivered from hundreds of years of slavery after God obliterated Egypt with plagues and drowned the Egyptian army in the Red Sea – have fashioned a golden idol and are thanking it for doing all of the things God had done. God’s initial reaction is terrifying – He intends to wipe all of Israel out, save for Moses, and create a new nation for him.
But Moses mediated for them. God’s anger was averted for a moment. The problem, though, is just that: God’s anger was only averted temporarily. The cycle of God’s love and faithfulness leading to restoration followed by His people’s pattern of faithlessness and disobedience would continue. This could not go on forever and ever, but God had a plan.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6). Who could bear the full weight of God’s anger against everything which is opposed to Him? Only God could, and He did. This is the salvation which humans truly need. We need to be saved from God’s wrath because it burns hot against us.
How does He douse His anger? By turning it onto His own Son. The firestorm of God’s wrath toward your sin was aimed and executed on Jesus. So Jesus is a much better “wrath-averter” than Moses. Moses appeased God momentarily, but Christ has satisfied God’s wrath once and for all (Rom. 6:10; Heb. 7:27, 9:12, 26, 10:10)!
Brothers and sisters, we do fall into the same pattern as the Israelites did – responding to God’s love and faithfulness with disobedience and faithlessness. It’s tragic and it’s sad. But we don’t have to butcher a sheep every time that we do, because Christ is our great sacrifice. He is the one who stands at the right hand of God interceding for us (1 John 2:1). Your relationship with God has been fundamentally changed because of Him. When you sin, God isn’t looking at you as a judge looks at a criminal. He’s looking at you as a father does to His child. So take heart, don’t be beaten down. Return to your Savior, who has already accomplished what must be done to keep God’s wrath off of you and His favor upon you.
May you rest in the good news that God’s anger has been averted because Christ has stood in the breach for you!
For His glory and fame,