From fifth grade on, my mother always read to us from the Bible in the morning before school. And while I am most certain she read to us the New Testament as well, it is the Old Testament, and specifically, the Israelites that caught my attention. God would save them, making known His mighty power, making a way for them through danger, saving and redeeming them from their enemies. And they would believe His words for a while, singing His praise. But then, they would forget. And in their forgetting, they despised what God had given to them. They subjected themselves to other gods and even sacrificed their sons and daughter to demons. And this all happened over, and over and over again. Every time my mom would read, “And again, the Israelites…”, I would roll my eyes in annoyance and disbelief.
I have in the briefest way, summed up some of Psalm 106. And as I was reading through it this morning, it took me back to my childhood attitude towards the Israelites and how it has changed. Ever since my struggle with an eating disorder, I have resonated with the Israelites. With excruciating pain, I now wince my way through a Psalm like Psalm 106. And yet still today, even though my battles do not look the same as they did ten years ago, my heart seeks to find its treasure outside of Christ. Again, and again I find myself leaning upon false gods. Again, and again, I find myself looking to another savior other than the One who has delivered me from sin and death. Why is it that I so easily forget? And then, exactly halfway through Psalm 106, we read this,
Psalm 106:21-23 English Standard Version (ESV)
21 They forgot God, their Savior,
who had done great things in Egypt,
22 wondrous works in the land of Ham,
and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
23 Therefore he said he would destroy them—
had not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach before him,
to turn away his wrath from destroying them.
Because the Israelites forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things, wondrous works, and awesome deeds, God said he would destroy them. But…Moses. Moses stood in the breach before God, to turn away God’s wrath from destroying the Israelites. I’ve never seen Moses point so clearly to Jesus. The gospel is front and center in this Psalm. Is it not always this way? Is it not always the way with the gospel?! It is the power of the gospel that saves us when we first believe and it is the power of the gospel that keeps us. Idols crumble at those words, the words that declare that Jesus Christ, God’s chosen one, stands in the breach before His Father, to turn away God’s wrath from destroying us. No idol can do this. No savior of our own making. What are we tempted to think will save us? Or to whom do we look? What program? What seven steps? What certification? What job? What affirmation? Will they show up for you in the day we stand before our Creator? Will they stand in the breach?
Not even Moses ultimately was able to permanently stand in this breach. A few verses later we read that the Israelites angered Moses at the water of Meribah, and it went ill with Moses on their account, “for they made his spirit bitter, and he spoke rashly with his lips.”
There is only one who is worthy to stand in the breach between us and God. There is only One whose life was lived perfectly pleasing to God, a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the wrath that was laid upon us all.
“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,”. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the wrath of God that would destroy us, and laid upon Himself the iniquity of us all. Behold the Lamb of God, who alone stands victoriously in the breach before God, that we might stand in His presence holy and blameless, not because of us, but because of His precious Son, Jesus Christ. This is the gospel that frees us from the idols and the wanton cravings (v. 14), of our hearts. And while these idols and wanton cravings will take different forms throughout our lives, our weapons to fight them will remain the same. It is, and always will be, the gospel.
Let us give thanks to His holy name and glory in His praise. We glory in His praise. This glory is the power that transfers us to the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. This glory is the power that breaks the yoke of canceled sin. This glory, the glory of His praise, is the chief end of man, and our joy today, and forevermore. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, who alone can stand in the breach, and who does so, out of the joy that was set before Him, for the glory of His Father and the joy of us all today, at this moment, and always.