Text: Exodus 17:1-7, 33:7-23, 34:1-9, 1 Timothy 2:5-6, Hebrews 12:18-24, 1 Corinthians 10:1-4, 1 Peter 2:4-7
Have you ever been a mediator?
Maybe your girlfriends in middle school had trouble getting along, your business is dependant on the services of another, or your kids just get waaay too wrapped up in the even-stevens of the raspberries you set out for breakfast.
Chances are, you know what it’s like to break up disputes, play the telephone game, and bring two parties into a happy operating agreement that ideally does not involve precision-cutting the odd raspberry directly down its midline.
Imagine what it must have been like for Moses, the mediator between God and the entire nation of Israel. Actually, it began before that. Remember all that mediating Moses had to do between God and Pharaoh to get the Israelites safely out of slavery in the first place? That’s a lot of sweaty-armpit visits to the palace, you guys.
Once the miracles of the plagues finally motivated Pharaoh to let them go, it still took Moses a lot of affirming and convincing the people of Israel to get them to lean into their escape. While the chariots of Egypt were in hot pursuit of the runaway slaves, Moses reminded Israel, “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and see the LORD’s salvation He will provide for you today; for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again” (Exodus 14:33).
Moses spent his life in mediations. Remember Exodus 19, when he played the telephone game between God and Israel at the base of Mt. Sinai? It was his job to ensure nobody got themselves killed while he received the Ten Commandments. There was a lot of back-and-forth. A lot of frustration. Not only did Moses represent God to His people, but he also found himself in the supremely awkward position of representing the people of Israel to their God. More sweaty armpits, for sure.
Moses’ job was possibly more dangerous and more wonderful than any job of any human before him. (Well, I guess Noah had a pretty dangerous, wonderful job too, didn’t he?) Moses had the unique privilege and great holy fear of actually hearing God’s voice and needing to be protected from the too-awesome-ness of seeing His face. It really was risky work.
But Moses loved God and he loved Israel. That’s what makes a good mediator, don’t you think—loving both parties and wanting them to love each other? Listen to the way Moses roots for Israel before God in Exodus 37:13: “Now consider that this nation is Your people.”
Moses wanted God to forgive the startling greatness of “stiff-necked” Israel’s iniquity. He wanted God to go with Israel where they went, and for Israel to go where God was going. Moses gave his life to reminding God and Israel how much they loved each other.
We have a Moses, too, you know. The True and Better Moses. We have a Mediator who asks Yahweh to forgive the startling greatness of our sin. While Moses mediated an old covenant, the Ten Commandments, Jesus Christ fulfilled that old covenant and now mediates a new, better covenant between God and His (still “stiff-necked”) people (Hebrews 12:24).
Moses was an archetype of a future Mediator, though in later years, he would grow impatient with God and Israel. He would disobey God’s instructions and overstep his role because the self-righteous glory of being their provider seemed more desirable than being their mediator (Numbers 20:6-12). The sin of a nation overwhelmed Moses to the point of disobedience and destruction, while the iniquity of the world moved Jesus to the point of obedience and restoration (Exodus 32:19, Philippians 2:8).
Today we can thank God for sending Jesus as a true and better Mediator who, like Moses and other Old Testament priests, is our means of connection to the unimaginable glory of the Father. But this perfect, eternal Mediator’s act of righteous obedience tore the veil of the temple from top to bottom so that we could have access to the Father, not just once, but forevermore.
Christ’s was the ultimate act of mediation. Thanks be to God!
For there is one God
and one mediator between God and humanity,
Christ Jesus, Himself human,
who gave Himself—a ransom for all,
a testimony at the proper time.
- 1 Timothy 2:5-6