Lesson 37: We Can Turn People Back When They Turn Away

You're reading EXODUS: LESSONS IN FREEDOM, by Eric Elder, featuring fifty inspiring devotionals based on one of the most dramatic, yet practical books in the Bible. Also available in paperback and eBook formats in our bookstore for a donation of any size!

You’re reading EXODUS: LESSONS IN FREEDOM, by Eric Elder, featuring fifty inspiring devotionals based on one of the most dramatic, yet practical books in the Bible. Also available in paperback and eBook formats in our bookstore for a donation of any size!

Scripture Reading: Exodus 32:7-14

Have you ever tried to help someone out with their life, only to see them turn away from God?  You wonder if they’ll ever turn back around?  You think to yourself, “Man, I could really help that person if they would just let me.”

I want to encourage you that all is not lost when our friends, family, or co-workers turn away from God.  Even though they may be quick to turn away from God, we can turn them back.  We have the power of the Living God in our lives to help turn their lives around.

Take encouragement from what happened to Moses in Exodus chapter 32.  When God and Moses finished talking on the mountain, God gave Moses a heads-up about what was going on back at camp.  God said:

“Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt’ ”  (Exodus 32:8-9).

If you’ve followed the story of these people up to this point, what do you think you would do with them now?  They’ve just seen miracle after miracle after miracle of God working in their lives.  They’ve just been set free from 400 years of bondage in slavery.  Yet here they are, a short time later, and again, they’re turning their back on God.

Here’s what God thought of doing at this point:

“I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people.  Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation” (Exodus 32:10).

Moses may have felt the exact same thing.  But when Moses heard what God was about to do, something clicked within Moses.  He said, in effect, “No, God, don’t do it!”

Moses didn’t plead the innocence of the people, like we might try to do regarding our friends, saying, “It’s just a calf, they’ll turn back.  Let ’em go, it’s no big deal.”   Moses didn’t try to argue on the people’s behalf based on their merit, but based on God’s promises:

“O LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’ ” Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened (Exodus 32:8-14).

Something similar happened back in Genesis chapter 6 when God threatened to destroy the earth with a flood.  But on account of Noah, God gave humanity another chance.

While it’s true that people can be quick to turn away from God, it’s also true that we can turn them back.  We have the power of the Living God with us to help turn their lives around.

We can stand in the gap for them.  We can pray for them.  We can listen to them, speak the truth to them, and show love to them.  Remember that God is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9b).

Call out to God on their behalf, saying, “God, please spare my daughter from the bad decisions she’s made.  Spare my son, my boss, my mother, my father, my brother, my friend.  Have mercy on them Lord, not because of their goodness, but because of Yours.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Want to learn more? You can watch a podcast with more discussion about this topic below.

Watch “We Can Turn People Back When They Turn Away”

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