When you think about Moses, what readily comes to mind? The burning bush, probably. Maybe the basket of reeds in which he floated down the Nile as an infant. You probably think about the man who stood before Pharaoh with God's Word, who brought upon Egypt a number of plagues by his obedience to God. Maybe you think about the steadfast leader who blazed a path through the wilderness for Israel, who took them from one place to another to another, always with the Promised Land in mind.
Any or all of these would be a good way to remember Moses, to think of him when he comes to mind. But there is something essential missing from this remembrance, something so vital to the nature of who Moses was and what He did for Israel that it's actually the biggest thing the Psalmist - an Israelite who owed his own history to this man - recalls about Moses:
He stood in the breach between men and God, and in doing so, he turned away the Lord's wrath. (Psalm 106)
Actually, when you start to think about this, it's easy to see what it is that we don't often easily remember about him. It's easy to see all the times that Moses climbed the mountain, all the times he pleaded with God for mercy, all the times he stood between a rock and a hard place (yes, even literally). When things weren't going well in the camp, it was Moses who went to the Lord and prayed for better. When a plague hit, it was Moses who asked the Lord what the answer was...and then commissioned the snake from the bronze. When Israel was hungry, it was Moses who relayed the message to the Lord; when they were thirsty, it was he who struck the rock (though this is probably a bad example, given how that turned out).
The point is that when the Psalmist writes and remembers Moses, this is what he remembers of him - a man who stood in the gap between human beings and the Lord our God and facilitated faithfulness and mercy, respectively.
And if that's all we ever remembered of Moses, wouldn't that be enough?
Honestly, we need more men like Moses in our world. We need more human beings this bold, this confident, this sure. We need more persons willing to stand in the gap.
Most of us look at our pastors, our ministers, our mentors and we can talk about their backstory a little, just like we can about Moses floating down the river in a basket. We can talk about their mountaintop moments, like Moses and the burning bush. We can talk about some of the difficult terrain they've walked through, either personally or corporately as leaders in worship, just as we can about the wilderness. We can talk about their steadfast vision for the promises of God, just as Moses kept his eyes on the Promised Land.
But for a lot of us, we don't have anyone in our lives that we can talk about who stood in the breach for us. We don't have anyone we can point to who took it straight to God for us. We don't have an example of anyone willing to negotiate mercy on our behalf, prod us further toward faithfulness in response. Nobody's building a bronze snake for us any more.
And neither are we for anyone else.
Sure, we could say that we don't need any of that any more, that that's what Jesus does for us. All we need is a little Jesus, right? But the truth is that we still need these kinds of mediators in our lives, in our faith. We still need this kind of boldness and confident assurance. We need this kind of passion and prayerfulness.
We all need someone who will climb mountains for us, to stand in the gap between men and God.
And as Christians, we all ought to be that person for someone else.
Which leaves us today with these questions: when was the last time someone stood in the breach for you? When was the last time you stood in the breach for someone else? What greater thing could you possible do for someone? What greater thing could they possibly do for you?