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This blog post was published on Saturday 27 June 2020.

In Deuteronomy 9, Moses is reminding the people of what brought them to this point: about to enter the land of Canaan. It certainly does not cover the people in glory! It also describes both of Moses’ fasts.

I would describe the first as an act of worship, responding to the generosity of God giving the Law, and his holiness. And, the fast points to the need to rely not on bread, but on every word God speaks (Deuteronomy 8.3).

But the second fast is different: here Moses intercedes on behalf of the people. They have sinned horrendously by creating and worshipping a golden calf (9.16) - now synonymous with idol-worship - assuming Moses had died up the mountain. How quick we are to turn away from God! In his (just) anger, God decides to do away with the people and create a new people, descended from Moses (9.14).

It is at this point that Moses throws himself ‘prostrate before the Lord’ for another 40-day fast (9.18). This time his fast was an act of repentance, on behalf of the people who had committed such sin. There is fear of what God might do (9.19), but also, perhaps, great love for the people? Moses reminds God that they are his inheritance (9.26, 29), saved to bring glory to his name. ‘They are your people,’ Moses says (9.29).

As a church leader, those four words speak powerfully to me. God has called and entrusted me to care for part of his family. That is my purpose, my vocation, my role: to care for what is not my own. These people, this church - they are not mine, they are God’s. They are not ‘my’ people: ‘they are your people’.

That means ultimately they are his responsibility, not mine, and the best thing I can do is what Moses did: intercede with God on their behalf, throw myself (and them) on God’s mercy, and trust him to be faithful to his promises.