The following are my notes of David Platt’s message at T4G 2014.
I feel so inadequate to preach a message on the wrath of God. I want to pray, but I have this sin sick desire to impress you all when I pray. I also know that many of us within seconds of praying we let our minds wonder. Do we realize that we are talking with God when pray and who he is?
“Prayer is a huge hole in the canvas of the reformed resurgence.” (John Piper)
We have seen a renewed interest in theology, ecclesiology, and missiology. All of these things are growing, but something is missing. It is prayer.
Back when they would gather for the Westminster assembly they would spend an hour praying and an hour preaching. Two hours preaching and two hours of praying. Yet we spend hours preaching in our church, but just a few minutes praying.
We are known for preaching and teaching, but not our praying and our fasting. Every movement of God has been marked by passionate panting before God. The missions movements, the puritans movements, and every revival of the church has been marked by prayer. Yet our movement of growing theology, ecclesiology, and missiology without prayer.
God wills for us to be a praying people and echoes the cries of his children. God brings about remarkable change in response to the prayers of his people.
Our prayers affect the way God acts in the world. That may make many of us uncomfortable and what about God’s sovereignty. These questions show our defective view of providence.
If we truly understand providence, then we will be desperate in prayer and unrelenting in our prayer. I want us to see this truth in Exodus 32.
I want to show us what Moses knows and how Moses prays. What we know about God will affect how we pray.
1. Moses Knows The Perfections of God Are Unchanging
When I say “perfections” I am referring to the perfect attributes of God that never change. God is perfectly loving and perfectly holy. He is not just love and justice, but he defines them. He is perfectly full of wrath and love, transendence and immanence. He does not change like shifting shadows. He is the same yesterday today and forever.
Look at verse 11, he calls on the covenant name of God. He acknowledges God’s wrath and appeals to God’s love. He knows God’s might and appeals to God’s mercy.
If God could change, this means he could change for the better or for the worse. Neither of these things would be good because either he already wasn’t perfect to begin with or he became less perfect.
God is not progressive. He is not maliable. He is perfect and unchanging.
2. The Purposes of God Are Unchanging
3. God Knows The Promises of God Are Unchanging
In verse 13, Moses says “remember to God.” Maybe God needs to remember something? What audacity Moses has to say this.
Moses knows that God does not lie and does not change his mind. The word of the Lord is upright.
The promises of God are unchanging. Moses basis his entire prayer on all that does not change in God.
It is interesting that the passage used to debate God’s changing his mind, that Moses’ prayer is about how he does not change.
4. The Plan of God Is Unfolding
God’s plan is not changing. If God’s plan is not fixed, then he is out of control. God does know what he is doing and has ordained all that is happening. God is not surprised when his people sin or when Moses prays.
We have this story to show the unfolding plan of God. God judges men in their sin and they sin grievously against God. God is holy and he will judge those who have sinned against him.
In verse 9-10, God judges men in their sin, but God provides a covenant mediator for their sins. In verse 7, God says to Moses, “Go down to your people.”
If God was going to destroy the Israelites, then why send Moses down to them? Because God planned to deliver his people.
God was going to punish them, unless someone steps in on behalf of his people. God appoints a mediator on their behalf.
Moses is not changing the plan, but he is fulfilling the plan that God had ordained.
This is just like what we see in Jonah. God was going to judge Ninevah, but God also sends Jonah. Why does he send Jonah? Because he wants to provide a mediator for their sins.
But we do not see this in just Moses and Jonah, but we see this in Jesus. This is the gospel. In our sin, death is a certainty, but praise be to God that he has provided a mediator through the death of Jesus.
I am eternally grateful for the unfolding plan of God. He has purposed and planned to raise me up for his name’s sake.
Man’s sins warrants my wrath, but I will raise up a man to mediate and I will relent.
Seeing what Moses knows about these things determines how Moses prays. He knows God is in control of all things and this does not make prayer meaningless. God has chosen to make prayer the powerful means by how we effectively change the course of history. People pray and lame walk. The hungry are fed and the dead are raised to life and fire falls from heaven.
The story of Acts in almost every chapter is that the church is praying and God changes the history of the world. God has not called us in prayer to watch history but to shape history for the glory of his great name.
We are not saying God is impotent king waiting for us to pray. No we see God wills to work through willing intercessors. When we pray God responds and we participate with him to accomplish his purposes.
When Moses prayed it had a big affect.
How did Moses pray?
1. Moses Pleads For God’s Mercy For Sinners
He knows God’s wrath and knows they are deserving of God’s wrath. Yet, knowing the purposes and promises of God he desperately prays that God would take his life and blot him out for his people. It sounds much like Romans 9:1 when Paul says he wishes he would be accursed for the sake of his people.
Do we pray like this for North America and the nations?
I was recently in Nepal and we went to villages that give definition to urgent spiritual and physical needs. They said half of their kids are dying before they reach 8 years old. They are dying of cholera and diarrhea. So we are walking through this one village and this one little girl is trying desperately get into my bag and she is jumping on me and holding my hand. She so badly wants something from me but we were told not give them anything for their long term good. I ended up pushing her away and she looked at me with a desperate and angry look on her face as tries to spit on me. Additionally, there is the sex trafficking that is going on in these villages. The sex traffickers convince starving families that they can sell their daughters for $100. If this were not enough it took over 4 days before we even met someone who had heard of Jesus.
So I am in these villages and I am praying and I desperately praying. I mean DESPERATELY PRAYING!!!
God would you use me and raise up men and women to save these people. I was pleading for God to have mercy on these people. Have mercy on sinners.
2. Moses Pleads For God’s Presence
We are tempted everyday to do the work of God apart from the presence and power of God. We do not have to fast and pray for the church to grow. We have marketing and publicity. We can grow our churches and have the Holy Spirit abscent.
Is the greatest hindrance of the spread of the gospel is not the self-indulgent immorality, but the self-sufficient mentality that is evident in our prayerlessness?
Moses knows that he needs God’s presence. He does not just want God’s presence with him, but also with his people.
We need God and we need to fall on our faces asking for his people. There are so few exhortations to pray for the lost, but for the power of God to come to the church.
The harvest is plentiful, but what do we pray for? That God would send the laborers.
In Acts 4, they are being persecuted and they start with providence of God in their prayer and they prayed for his presence and the whole place was shaken.
Only God can do the work of God and when God does that work it will be proceeded by the prayers of his people.
3. Moses Pleads For God’s Glory On The Earth
Moses had God’s presence go with him and God relent from his wrath and Moses still asks for more. He had seen the burning bush, the parting of the Red Sea, the water come from a rock, pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, but Moses wanted more!
Moses asked for what would obliterate him. He did not know what he was asking for, but he was hungry for more of his glory.
This is the end of prayer. We want to know him! We want to see his glory.
Revelation 8 says that the prayers of the saints are being stored up and fueling the fire of inscence. So do not ever underestimate the power of your prayers. Plead! Plead! Plead! and Plead some more until the day when we see his glory and his face and all of his unchanging perfections.
Let’s pray not as a routine to end our sermons, but as a relentless reality.