Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, April 1, 2023
Shabbat Shalom,

Day 32: Morning
Moses’ Growing Relationship with God
by David Harwood

God revealed His ways to Moses. As a result, he knew what paths God takes. Moses knew God’s manner of life.

He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel. (Psalm 103:7)

Part of this knowledge was apprehended through his experiences with God. In the sacred text I can’t recall anyone being addressed by Yahweh as often as Moses. Apart from a plethora of other examples, to simplify it for me, I looked up the number of times this formula is found: “the Lord spoke to Moses.” It’s a bit more than 55 times. Sometimes those words preceded short messages. Often, they introduced lengthy communications.

From the beginning Moses wanted to understand the identity of the Deity (Elohim) Who apprehended him. Moses needed to know this for pragmatic reasons. He expected Israel to ask him about God’s identity. So, he pressed in for illumination and clarification.

Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” 

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:13-14)

Their relational pattern began as that of a Master sending His slave to liberate slaves. Their relationship developed. What began as a Master-slave relationship was transformed into that of friends who had open communication. Look how the Lord described His relationship to His servant.

My servant Moses, he is faithful in all My household; with him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of the Lord. (Numbers 12:7b-8a) 

To elaborate, Moses is described as having a relationship with God that is akin to being a comrade.

Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. (Exodus 33:11a) 

God confided in Moses. Moses was open with God. God trusted Moses, and Moses relied upon the Lord. They looked after one another’s interests. There was a deep affection present in their relationship. Sometimes this was manifested within the context of conflict. Here’s an instance where they disagreed. The following is the context of that confrontation.

Moses had gone up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. Meanwhile, Israel worshiped a molten calf. God had had enough. He said to Moses:

Now therefore, leave Me alone, so My wrath may burn hot against them, and so I may consume them—and make from you a great nation! (Exodus 32:10)

It seems as if Moses had the relational power to restrain God. Abraham was called God’s beloved friend (Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23). As pertaining to Sodom, he petitioned God for mercy, bringing about concessions from God. Do you think Moses knew that history? Such a question is ludicrous, isn’t it? He knew that God could be reasoned with, appealed to, and that His judgments could be ameliorated. Like Abraham, Moses sought to leverage his relationship to the Creator to bring about mercy.

God said to Moses, Let me alone that I may consume them…” Moses responded to his Friend:

Then Moses sought Adonai his God and said, “Adonai, why should Your wrath burn hot against Your people, whom You have brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 

Why should the Egyptians say, ‘He brought them out to do evil, to slay them in the mountains, and to annihilate them from the face of the earth?’ Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this destruction against Your people. 

Remember Abraham, Isaac and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of I will give to your offspring, and they will inherit it forever.’ ” (Exodus 32:11-13)

Here’s the outcome:

So Adonai relented from the destruction that He said He would do to His people. (Exodus 32:14) 

Moses meditated on God’s ways and deeds. In this episode we find that Moses had climbed a mountain to meet with God. The next meditation begins to look into the moment where their friendship reached new heights.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarsson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sat 1 April 2023 10th of Nisan, 5783 Parashat Tzav
Shabbat HaGadol
Le 8:30-36 Mal 3:1-4:6 [3:24] Lk 1:13-17; 76-80