Standing in the Breach

October 12, 2014

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It did not take them long.  Surely less than 40 days, and for us one church service away, it did not take them long at all.  Last Sunday we read the Ten Commandments, the giving of God’s law to God’s people through Moses, their leader who met God on the Mount Sanai.

They are already breaking it in the very first verse of this reading!  Can you believe that, one-week and the Israelites are searching for other Gods, throwing Moses under the bus, and with Aaron’s assistance, building an Idol.  They have replaced God and his helper, Moses, and it has only been a week since they said, if you speak to us we will listen…

Yes, it only took them days, or a week to find fault – quick to complain, have you ever visited trip advisor…the review section allows for comments about hotel rooms, food, etc., and the manager can rebut the review.  So you could see it down.

Israelites:  Sure we appreciated being rescued from Slavery, and we came to appreciate the Manna, but we have a party to attend with a Golden Calf and you had nothing to do with that, so you are charging us to much with these LAWS.

Reply from God:  I am sorry you did not like your stay, you are in breach of contract, and I am going to destroy you.

This is an old story; we receive, we sin, we are in breach of our contract rather written or unwritten.

Adam, Eve and the fruit…sin before the flood Noah’s time…Sodom and Gomorrah.  Yes, this is a familiar, and  an old story, and we see and witness this today.

Last summer I re-watched the 1980s classic film, Can’t Buy Me Love, starring Patrick Dempsey as “Ronald Miller.”  Miller is the proverbial “nerd” and  instead of buying the telescope he saved all summer to purchase, he buys a girlfriend, Cyndi Mancini, the head cheerleader.  This purchase, Ronald believes, will be his ticket to the “cool” side of the table.  Well, his plan works; Ronald becomes “cool” but he isn’t satisfied with being cool or his new status, he has to breach his relationship with his old friend Kenneth.  He defiles Kenneth’s house in an effort to remain cool.

Like the Israelites forgetting about Moses, Ronald forgets about where he came from and who brought him there – they ALL become obsessed with idols and forget their history.  How quick they turn their backs…

Another way to look at this is Curious George.  Wherever, whenever, however, George shows up at an Airport Terminal, a Dentist Office, etc., he is always…curious.

It’s not just the Old Testament or Hollywood that pickup this script…think about times in your life when you have been given a gift – only to wreck it.  My life in College was filled with chances and doubles chances and triple chances, each time, promising a fresh start, each time ending with another meeting in the Dean’s office.

Our response to these restarts is our black heart.  We try, like curious George, to stay out of trouble, we try to remember those that helped us, and those that fed us, but we return to our black heart.  We breach the relationship.

Next thing we know we are back right where we were before, in need of help and facing a breach.  These happen outwardly and inwardly. Maybe we breached a business deal with an overzealous sales call, maybe we breached a promise to a child, or with a spouse, again.    Maybe the new computer controls doesn’t keep away the internet pornography, or only drinking beer in the afternoon doesn’t stop the late nights, maybe paying for cash doesn’t fix the debt, maybe it seems as if nothing will take you out of the breech.

What is a Breach? We find ourselves right into the breach. 

English:  to break or failing to observe the law, agreement or a code of conduct.

It translates in Hebrew directly as the word for bursting forth and bursting towards…It is God lurching forward in the face a broken covenant.

I think the best image that captures the breach is the story of Holland’s Hans Brinker…he had to plug the hole in the dyke or else the entire dyke would burst and flood the Netherlands.

Moses must have realized the location of the Israelites, their position in the breach..  The Psalmist tells us:

So he said he would destroy them—

had not Moses, his chosen one,

stood in the breach before him

to keep his wrath from destroying them. (Ps 106:23)

Moses stood in the Breech.  Moses stood in the midst of the broken promises and broken covenant for the people of Israel.

Moses finds himself on Mountain standing between the people of Israel and God.  Moses is standing in the breach.

What a powerful scene of Moses stepping into the breach and reminding God of God’s steadfast love and mercy, reminding God of his creation.  This moment echoes Abraham’s stepping into the breach with the Sodom and Gomorrah, this is the stepping into the breach.

What does this look like? Can’t Buy Me Love at the end Ronald is tutoring one of the cheerleaders and the jocks say, well, look at Kenneth, he is trying to pull a Ronald miller scam, they immediately begin to bully him and a outburst takes place – however, this time Ronald steps into the breach, steps between the big football players and his old friend, and he intercedes for him.  Saying he is not me, do not blame him for what I did.

Moses steps in front of God and appeals to him out of his favor, appealing to him out of fatherly love, out of compassion, and out of history.  This appeal in the breech works.

This is what the story of the Golden Calf points us towards, it points us towards a savior who stood in the breach, and who continues to stand, and who will stand in the future for us, in the breech.  Between our broken promises, and out sins, our idols, stands Moses in the breach for the Israelites.

Moses stands in the face of the Lord for the Israelites on this mountain, at this particular day, but even he falls short and cannot keep the bridge over the breech.  On the heels of the Promise land in Numbers,

But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” (Num. 12)

The Good news is that this story does foretell another intersession in a breech.  The man who will stand on the Hill at Calvary, who will stand in the breech between you and me and God – the never ending and always continuing sin.

A Man who will stand between our broken promises, our addictions, our idols and God.  The final breech was not just occupied by a Man, like Moses or Abraham, rather it was occupied by God, himself.  God came in the form of a person, in the name of God’s Son Jesus Christ, and God interceded with Godself on behalf of the world for the world.  And in the final act of intercession, God’s Son, Jesus, Died in this breech, to intercede for all of our sins, for yours and mine, for the worlds so that we might not suffer in the breech, but have everlasting life.

Jesus Final intercession for us was: Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

And this is the Good News that despite ourselves, God sent his son not to condemn us, but to enter the breech and hang on the cross for you and me.

Amen.

Bible References

  • Exodus 31:1 - 32:14