Do you recall reading in Exodus 32:9-10 how God was so angry with the Children of Israel that he told Moses to stand aside so that He could destroy that nation, then make a new nation from Moses? Moses, fortunately for them, tells God why He shouldn’t do that, so God relents and allows the people to survive. It was a pivotal moment in the history of the Jewish people, that’s for sure.
Have you ever asked yourself what would have happened if Moses had said, “OK, Lord- let’s get ‘er done!”?
After all, Moses was not happy that he had to care for this multitude, and to have a nation of your own descendants, well, what’s so bad about that? It’s not like Moses solicited God to do that. On the other hand, maybe Moses was thinking God would want to have another 12 tribes, so for Moses (and Zepporah, too) that would involve some physicality that, at their advanced age, may not seem as enticing as it would have some, oh, 60 years earlier.
We know that the plan, as it is today, started with God creating Adam, who sinned and was sent out of the garden, bringing everyone into sin from their birth. A few generations later Noah was a type of Messiah, in that through him mankind was saved. But there was still original sin, so we fell back into rebellion. Next we have Moses, who is another type of Messiah, saving not the world (as Noah did) but the Jewish people from eventual destruction under Egyptian rule. The next step in God’s plan was Yeshua, the Messiah promised throughout the Tanakh. Yeshua saved more than just the Jews, He provided salvation for the entire world.
BUT…what if Moses had agreed? Would the plan of salvation come from a different angle? For instance, there were 12 Apostles, but was that because God wanted 12 or only because there were 12 Tribes, initially? If God had made a nation from Moses, since Moses was a Levite, wouldn’t the nation of priests that God said he was creating (Exodus 19:6) be accomplished in one fell swoop? There wouldn’t be a need to have a tribe for kingship (Judah) and one for worship (Levi), but instead we would have the prophet/king/priest role all in one, right from the start. Moses is a precursor of Yeshua in that not only did he free us from slavery, but he was also king and prophet and priest, all in one. That is what Yeshua will be when He comes into His kingdom on earth. So if Moses had been the “new” Patriarch, would we need to have more than one tribe? And would we have had to see the Temple destroyed? Would Yeshua have come sooner? Would the enemy already be subdued and we would all be in God’s presence?
Who knows? I have my degree (undergraduate) in History, and I learned then about the danger of conjecture, i.e., assuming what would have happened “if” things went differently. It is fun to think about “what if…”, but we shouldn’t use conjecture when we are studying history. The same holds true when studying the bible.
The fact is that Moses knew better than to have a nation come from him because the nation was already there. Most will say that God really had no intention of destroying the people- He was only testing Moses. I believe that God does test us, but I also think too often we use that explanation when we don’t understand, or feel “uncomfortable” with the idea that maybe God really did want to do something we don’t ordinarily think God would do. I feel we pull the “God was just testing him” card out too quickly when we don’t understand what God was really planning. Sometimes we just don’t know what God intended; for me, I feel that if He wanted us to know it, He would have made it clear to us.
So what’s the bottom line to today’s drash? It’s that there could have been many different ways throughout history to get us to where we are today, and although it is fun to think about “What if?”, the thing that matters is not what if, but what is. We need to keep focused on the present and work towards the future. I love History and will never stop reading the bible, but I am not concerned with understanding why God did what He did or what might have happened- I am concerned with maintaining my relationship with God today and to strengthen it in the future. We need to understand the past so that the mistakes that have been made are not repeated in the future.
Know the past, but commit yourself to learn what God’s plan is (for you), and appreciate that He knows what is best for all of us. Don’t get stuck in the past thinking about “What if”: people who can’t get past their past have no future.