So the LORD changed his mind about the terrible disaster he had threatened to bring on his people.
— Exodus 32:14
I find it amazing that Moses negotiated with God and got away with it. But he wasn't the only one. Another man who negotiated with God was Abraham, and he was called the friend of God.
When God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham started praying. He said, "Suppose you find fifty righteous people living there in the city—will you still sweep it away and not spare it for their sakes? . . . Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?" (Genesis 18:24–25). He was actually telling God about His own nature.
God said, "If I find fifty righteous people in Sodom, I will spare the entire city" (verse 26).
Then Abraham said, "Even though I am but dust and ashes. Suppose there are only forty-five righteous people rather than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?" (verses 27–28).
Next Abraham threw out the prospect of forty people, then twenty people, and finally ten. Even then, God said He wouldn't destroy the city if He could find only ten righteous people. But God couldn't find ten people, and ultimately He judged Sodom.
Abraham could talk to God that way because he was His friend. It might seem irreverent, but it speaks of the closeness of his friendship with God.
In the same way, Moses negotiated with God to spare the Israelites after they worshiped the golden calf, and God spared them. Moses had changed from an impulsive prince of Egypt into a seasoned man of God who put it all on the line for his people.
Does this mean that we should argue with God? Not really. But it does mean that we should plead with God. We should intercede for people whom we care about.