God invites Moses back up the mountain, back to his presence, back to receive commandments. Again. And when Moses arrives, when he encounters God, the Lord speaks and calls out great things about himself and Moses falls on his face in worship. And then Moses speaks.
O Lord, if it is true that I have found favor with you, then please travel with us. Yes, this is a stubborn and rebellious people, but please forgive our iniquity and our sins. Claim us as your own special possession. Exodus 34:9
Claim us. This is a prayer of surrender, a prayer of humility. A prayer that says, I will no longer be my own, I will be yours. I will no longer have my agenda, my lists of requirements, my self-focused priorities. I will let you tell me what’s important, ask you to align my heart with what is true. I will be your possession. I will surrender.
And Moses is honest because he says, “we are stubborn, we are sinners we are rebellious. Please forgive us as you claim us.” Essentially he is admitting: we have baggage. This is a call for God to claim us, not because we are so great or worthwhile. It’s a plea for claiming even with our junk and brokenness.
Everything about today’s society rejects this. Everywhere we are told to be our own boss, make our own rules, decide for ourselves what is true. Relativism is the standard of our day. If it works for you it’s true. If it’s convenient for you it’s acceptable. No one promotes sacrificing or working for things. Everything is something we feel entitled to. And everything is justifiable—well, almost everything. Our self-serve culture has made us self-serving.
So Moses’ words today are words that call us back to the gospel of Jesus. A gospel that says Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. And our attitude should be the same. We should serve like he served. Following him means not making a name for ourselves. It really means not making for ourselves at all. It’s not about us.
I read these words of Moses and my first thought was just how wonderful this is; this “claim us” reality that we can have with God—the beauty of relationship with him. And it is great and it is amazing and beautiful, but it is also far more serious than I often give attention to. Asking God to claim us is a cry of submission and surrender. It is a life of serving and giving of ourselves. It’s not how the world does things—it’s a call to be different.
But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:26-28
Father, claim us as your own special possession. Make it not about us, but about you. Teach us to serve and give and love; not for ourselves, but for others to see you. We surrender. We are yours.