In Numbers 14, Moses pleads with God not to destroy the unfaithful nation. The basis of his intercession on their behalf is God’s character. God had once described himself to Moses in Exodus chapter 34 and Moses gives those very words back to God. God said that He was, “…slow to anger, abounding in love, and forgiving sin and rebellion…” Moses pleads with God, not according to God’s justice, but according to God’s mercy and loving kindness. He surely doesn’t ask for justice, he asks for mercy.

Max Lucado tells a story: “Some months ago I was late to catch a plane out of the San Antonio airport. I wasn’t terribly

late, but I was late enough to be bumped and have my seat given to a stand-by passenger. When the ticket agent told me that I would have to miss the flight, I put to work my best persuasive powers. ‘But the flight hasn’t left yet.’ ‘Yes, but you got here too late.’ ‘I got here before the plane left; is that too late?’ ‘The regulation says you must arrive ten minutes before the flight is scheduled to depart. That was two minutes ago.’ ‘But, ma’am,’ I pleaded, ‘I’ve got to be in Houston by this evening.’ She was patient but firm. ‘I’m sorry, sir, but the rules say passengers must be at the gate ten minutes before scheduled departure time.’ ‘I know what the rules say,’ I explained. ‘But I’m not asking for justice; I’m asking for mercy.’ She didn’t give it to me.” He concludes, “But God does. Even though by the ‘book’ I’m guilty, by God’s love I get another chance. Even though by the law I’m indicted, by mercy I’m given a fresh start. …No other world religion offers such a message. All others demand the right performance, the right sacrifice, the right chant, the right ritual, the right séance or experience. Theirs is a kingdom of trade-offs and barterdom. You do this, and God will give you that.” But for you and me, “it is by grace you are saved… not by works…. it is a gift of God.”