For the week of April 23, 2011 / 19 Nisan 5771
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 33:12 - 34:26 &
Bemidbar / Numbers 28:19-25
Haftarah: Ezekiel 36:37 - 37:14

Favor with God

And the LORD said to Moses, "This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name." (Shemot / Exodus 33:17; ESV)

Moses found favor in God's sight. What a concept it is that a human being could enjoy the favor of the Master of the Universe: God - the Creator, Savior, King, and Judge. The Hebrew word for "favor" in this verse is "ḥen" (with an aspirated 'h' as in the "ch" in "Bach") which signifies in this context God's willingness to give help to Moses. So basically Moses is asking God for help and God is willing to give it.

The simplicity of this interchange should in no way undermine the overwhelming implications of what is going on here. People who believe in God and believe that prayer (speaking to God) is a valid exercise, claim also to believe that God answers prayer. But do we approach God with the assumption that we, like Moses, have found favor in his sight? Or in other words, do we really think that God is willing to give us the help we ask for?

To be able to answer that question, we need to determine what the basis for finding favor with God is. Moses knew that if God would be willing to help him, then he would get the help he needed. And because God was favorably disposed toward Moses, Moses' request was granted.

The Bible teaches that human beings are not naturally within the bounds of God's favor. Pesach (English: Passover), which begins this year on Monday evening, April 18, commemorates God's favorable act of the rescue of the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt. Yet the story of the Exodus illustrates the tension of the human experience before God. While on one hand Israel is delivered from a most terrible situation because of God's favor, their and the subsequent generations' inability to remain within God's favor is evident. Through the Hebrew prophets Israel gained the understanding that while God delivered us from physical bondage in Egypt, there was to be a greater spiritual deliverance one day through the coming of the Messiah. This is why the traditional Passover Seder (ceremonial meal) both looks back on the Exodus from Egypt and forward to Messiah's coming. It is the coming of the Messiah which marks the time when God's people will fully enjoy his favor.

This reality is wonderfully foreshadowed by how the people of Israel were directed on that first Pesach to smear the blood of the lambs on the door frames of their houses to protect them from God's judgment their last night in Egypt. God's favor was upon them as they remained under the protection of the sacrificed lamb. But sadly, as the nation of Israel left Egypt they failed to continue to live lives submitted to God's loving provision and protection, preferring rather to pursue life on their own terms, thus placing themselves beyond the bounds of God's favor.

Thankfully we do not have to remain outside of the bounds of God's favor. Like that first Pesach night we can again come under the blood of the lamb. For by trusting in the poured out life of the Messiah, we can experience the favor of God. As we read in the New Covenant book of Hebrews: "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16; ESV). Those who trust in Yeshua can confidently come before God with our needs and expect to find favor his sight.

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