Exodus 32 records one of the most interesting, and most critical episodes in the life of the Israelites. It is the ‘golden calf” incident where the people, not a couple of months out of slavery, are complaining about their plight and the fact that Moses has been long up on the mountain before the Lord God. So they talk spineless Aaron into helping them build an idol before whom they might worship. This enrages the Holy God, of course, and sets him on a path of justified annihilation (32:9-10) of the people. The critical point comes when Moses intercedes on their behalf. He mediates the situation before God, as recorded in verses 11-14;
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? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened”.
What is critical here is that Moses stands in the gap. He is willing to suffer with the people and calls them back to the Lord. DA Carson notes the role of Moses here when he says, "Here is an extraordinary mediator, a man whose entire sympathies are with God and his gracious salvation and revelation, a man who makes no excuses for the people he is called to lead, but who nevertheless so identifies with them that if judgment is to fall on them he begs to suffer with them. Here is a man who “stands in the gap”.
There are at least two lessons for us here. The first is the holy character of our God. He stands above all creation as the only righteous God and ruler of all things. He cannot tolerate sin and will punish the disobedient. This is why we need a Saviour. The second point we must make is that of Moses. As the peoples mediator he serves as an example of Jesus Christ our mediator. Like Moses, Jesus who is the greater Moses, stands between us and God’s justifiable wrath, if we know him as Lord and Saviour. Paul states this wonderful reality in 1 Timothy 2:5, "For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus”.
Do you understand this reality? Are you one of those who have been redeemed by God’s grace and rejoice in your mediator? If so live in joyful obedience. Do not stray from your God like the Israelites did. Give yourself wholly to his service.