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As at the first time, I stayed in the mountain forty days and forty nights; the Lord also heard me at that time, and the Lord chose not to destroy you. Then the Lord said to me, “Arise, begin your journey before the people, that they may go in and possess the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.”  (Deuteronomy 10:10-11)

Were it not for Moses’ humility and willingness to intercede on behalf of his brethren, the history of Israel might look much different today. Because of his willingness to tarry before the LORD forty days in intercession, “the LORD chose not to destroy you.” This forty day period was the second of three such experiences. The first was when he went before God to hear His instruction and to receive the first set of tablets. The second was the one mentioned here: to intercede for the people after the Golden Calf incident. The third time was to receive the second set of tablets carved by man. According to tradition, the day on which Moses returned from that ascent would become known as Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Very soon thereafter the Sanctuary was constructed.

In a sense, these three sets of forty can be interpreted as a history of mankind, and even the individual. Consider that in the beginning, God says that man’s days are “120 years” (Genesis 6:3). Were we to divide these 120 years into three sets of forty, the first would correspond to the first set of tablets which were God’s ideal for His people – in other words, things as they should be. The second would correspond to the reality of our fallen state (the Golden Calf) and the need for intercession. In our case, that comes by way of the Messiah, our Advocate before the Father. The third set of forty would correspond to the second set of tablets — i.e. the New Covenant — brought about by the one willing to die for Israel’s benefit.

Because of their rebellion, the people of Israel fell into disfavor but the humble Moses prevailed upon God to forgive them. Consequently, He restored His covenant with them, with a message of “I have forgiven.” Likewise, all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. However, through the Messiah, He has shown us all goodwill and a path that leads to reconciliation and abundant life through the blood of the Renewed Covenant. So then, let us rejoice with David who sang, “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You” (Psalm 86:5).

Blessings and Shalom,  




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