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“Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” Then they fell on their faces, and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and You be angry with all the congregation?” (Numbers 16:21-22)

Once again we see the faithfulness of Moses, not only toward God, but toward the people he has been given to lead. When God directs him and Aaron to step aside that He might consume them, instead he begins to intercede for the people in a just and reasonable way. Just because there is bad seed among the people, should the entire congregation suffer the same punishment? He knew that God is well able to discern between the guilty and those led astray by the guilty and so he sought mercy for those who don’t know what they’re doing. Mind you — he didn’t plead for the lives of those who were guilty; he asked God to spare the innocent and the ignorant.

The Bible is replete with other examples of those who interceded on behalf of the people they were to shepherd. David pleaded with God to spare Israel because he had sinned, not the people. When David saw the angel who was striking the people he said, “I have sinned, and I have done wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done?” (2 Samuel 24:17). Another example is found in the account of Abraham pleading to God for the sake of the righteous living in Sodom: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Genesis 18:25). In all of these examples, we see action that is indicative of those who have a heart “after God” – in other words, to exhibit mercy and long suffering.

The Bible tells us that God takes no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked and, as His people, we should not either. If that is the case, how much more should we be willing to show mercy and grace to those who aren’t necessarily wicked but just might be a bit hard headed and slow to do what is right? Think about it: has not the Creator been long suffering with us when we have been hard headed and slow to do what we know to be right? All of us are sheep and, in some respect, all of us are shepherds. So whether a pastor or a parent, remember that we must strive to have a heart after God, meaning we must love Him with all our heart and we must love those He brings into our lives just as we love ourselves.

Blessings and Shalom,  




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