Sermon: God Answers Prayer - Exodus 32

Moses, acting as the intercessor for the Israelites, pleads with God to relent and not to destroy His people, and the scripture says that God changes His mind and turns from the punishment He had threatened against Israel.

Scriptures: Exodus 32:7-14

Introduction

Our text today is a clear example of the power of prayer. Last week we observed the impatience of the Israelites and the sins that are born out of impatience. We saw how they constructed an idol of gold and how they bowed down and worshiped it, in what we termed false worship. We pick up our story this morning in chapter 32, with our principle text being verses 7-14.

Herein we find God angered with the Israelites and threatening to destroy them and to make a new nation out of Moses. Moses, acting as the intercessor for the Israelites, pleads with God to relent and not to destroy His people, and the scripture says that God changes His mind and turns from the punishment He had threatened against Israel.

Notice three things this text tells us about God this morning.

I. God is aware of everything (32:7)

Nothing escapes the all seeing eyes of God. Nothing is beyond the scope of His knowledge. In reality, we know that God knew what Israel was going to do, so the golden calf comes as no surprise to Him. This is what Verse 7 tells us.

II. God is a jealous God (32:8-10)

Remember the second commandment, back in Exodus 20:4-6, God made it very clear that He would not tolerate divided loyalty. He wanted all of their devotion; He would not share it with anyone.

III. God is sovereign (32:11-14)

There are those who read this passage and want to focus on the fact that the text says that God changed His mind. This sends some folks into absolute panic, especially those who are fatalistic and are so wrapped up in predestination that their limited view of God leaves Him no room to be God. A plain reading of this text tells us that God changed His mind about what He was going to do to Israel.

This presents us with somewhat of a theological dilemma. For you see, since we know that God knows all things, and has perfect foreknowledge, it would seem incompatible with His nature for Him to change His mind. To deal with this tension, scholars have come up with several theories. Some tell us that God never really intended to destroy the Israelites, but that He was just testing Moses to see if Moses would intercede for them as he was supposed to. The problem with this theory is that it is not what the text tells us.

Which brings me to my final point…look again at verses.

IV. God answers prayer (32:11-14)

I want you to notice the characteristics of Moses’ prayer; what made it work.

It was personal – that is, it was given within the context of authentic relationship. While God can answer the prayers of anyone He wants, the only people whose prayers He has promised to hear and answer are of those who are in relationship with Him.

It was purposeful – So many of our prayers lack actual specifics. We pray that God would bless all the missionaries, would help the poor and comfort the afflicted. That’s not how Moses prayed. He had a specific purpose in mind when He prayed. He was intentional. He went to God with a purpose weighing heavily on his heart.

It was positional – That is, Moses used His position as intercessor and mediator to go to God on behalf of the people.

It was passionate – We know from the verse 32, that Moses was even willing to have his own name blotted out of the book of life, if only God would forgive Israel. Moses was passionately involved with the people he was leading.

Conclusion

Are you doing anything which you think will escape God’s attention? Are you slowly but surely drifting away from God, wandering from the intimacy which you once had with Him? You can get back into fellowship this morning. Is your view of God limited? Have you been fooled into believing that prayer doesn’t really change things? Friend, don’t let anyone or anything steal that most precious resource from you. God hears our prayers and answers them.

Dr. Calvin Wittman is pastor of Applewood Baptist Church, Wheat Ridge, Colorado. He serves as a trustee at Criswell College, and regularly contributes to Open Windows, a monthly LifeWay devotional publication.