Lamentation and Mediation (Jeremiah 15:1–21)

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go!’ ” —Jeremiah 15:1

In Jeremiah 14 Judah laments twice and she laments well, insofar as the words themselves go. That her cries are duplicitous, with YHWH being near her lips, but far from her heart, is made plain by Yahweh’s replies, the most stinging of which comes chapter 15. In chapter 14 God says he will not hear Judah’s cries and Jeremiah is commanded not to pray for them. Now, he says that even should Moses or Samuel intercede, He would not turn toward his people.

When the people sinned by worshipping the golden calf, Moses pled for them so that YHWH relented of the disaster that he had spoken (Exodus 32:14). Also, when Israel balks at taking the promised land, expressing her desire to return to Egypt, YHWH tells Moses he will strike them and make a nation out of Moses. Moses pleads that God have mercy for the sake of his name and covenant. Yahweh pardons.

Regarding Samuel, when Israel is in the land but harassed by the Philistines, the people confess their sin and ask that Samuel intercede for them they they might be delivered. Samuel prayed. The Philistines were defeated. When the people sin by asking for a king, again they ask Samuel to act as mediator. He prays and they are promised grace.

Psalm 99:6 says, “Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the LORD, and he answered them.” But now, Judah’s sin is so great and God’s long-suffering has been so extended, it matters not what they say, nor Jeremiah. No, even should Moses or Samuel intercede for them, His heart would not turn toward this people.

Following this, Jeremiah laments two times himself and each time he receives a rebuke mixed with grace. In v. 19 the prophet who has so often declared “return” is told to return himself, and promised that should he do so, he will be restored.

In these two chapters we have two laments. The first is met with a reply that there is no hope for redemption; the second, holds out hope for restoration. And the irony is this, if you only listen to the laments, Judah’s, which sounds good, is rejected, while Jeremiah’s, which sounds bad at times, is heard. What makes the difference? We might say that whereas Judah’s prayers sounded good, her heart was false, and though Jeremiah’s prayers sounded bad at times, his heart was true. Or, we could demonstrate how Judah had continually hardened her heart to the word of the Lord, whereas Jeremiah, though sinful, consistently showed a tenderness toward it. Further, we might reflect how this book shows that judgment was determined for this generation of Judah just as grace was determined for Jeremiah. But behind all this, we might say that whereas Judah didn’t have a prayer, Jeremiah did.

For the elect, a mediating High Priest and Sacrifice is given. As their Priest He bears their names on His heart and as their Sacrifice He bore their wounds in His body. You cannot pray well enough. Foremost, it matters not how you pay, but Who prays for you. If Christ is not your mediator, you do not have a prayer. If matters not who you are or who you might have in your corner if you have not Jesus. The mediation of Moses and Samuel were only a shadow. The Son who cast them has risen. “There is one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 2:5).

God Is not Unstable so Be Not Unstabled (Exodus 32:1–14)

The point of the text is not to paint God like some Roman deity. God is not moody. God isn’t temperamental or vindictive. God is not emotionally erratic and unreliable. Exodus 32 should not cause the saints to doubt God’s faithfulness, rather, just the opposite. God’s covenant faithfulness is unfailing.  Everything that happens in Exodus 32 is part of God’s sovereign plan. Consider four things.

First, read this singular instance in light of the whole of Scriptures that show God as sovereign over all things. Israel’s sin and Moses intercession are both part of God’s plan.

Second, Moses has pleaded with God on the basis of God. Moses has not spoken of how good the people are. Moses has not bartered with God as Abraham did, asking that if there are just ten righteous that God would spare them. Moses pleads with God upon the basis of what God has done (Exodus 32:11), out of zeal for God’s glory (Exodus 32:12), and because of what God has promised (Exodus 32:13). This isn’t Moses changing God’s sovereign will, but instead, revealing it.

Third, God set Moses up. When God says, “let me alone (Exodus 32:10)” the implication is that if Moses does not leave, then God will not consume them. Moses doesn’t disobey God. He stays upon the basis of who God has consistently revealed Himself to be and what He has promised to do and he implores God based upon the implication of what God has threatened and who God has called him to be—an intercessor.

Fourth, Why is Moses who he is? At the beginning of this book, when Moses was first on this mountain speaking with God, he argued with God in a sinful way, offering up various excuses for not obeying God and going to Egypt to deliver God’s people. Previously, Moses argued with God in a sinful way for selfish purposes that would leave Israel in bondage. Now, he implores God in a holy way for unselfish purposes, that will preserve Israel. So who has made Moses who he is? Who does Moses look like? Into whose image is Moses being conformed? Moses looks like Jesus, which is to say, he looks like God.

The point of the tabernacle is that man is sinful, God is holy, and that a mediator and sacrifices are thus necessary. This chapter, sandwiched between the instructions for and construction of the tent, not only amplifies those themes, it unites them as the mediator puts himself forward as the sacrifice (Exodus 32:30, 32). Saints, this text should cause you to hate sin and it should show you the ugliness of sin, but it should not cause you to doubt God’s faithfulness. One better than Moses pleads for you. He died. It is finished. He rose. He is at the right hand of the Father. You are united to Him by the Spirit. It is the Father who gave Him. You cannot be cast away unless Christ be cast away, meaning you are unmovable. Oh great sinners, take comfort in your great Savior.