"So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people." Exodus 32:14
While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the two tablets of stone that were written by the finger of God, the children of Israel quickly turned from the commandments of the Lord and gave themselves to idol worship. They worshiped the molten calf that Aaron made by making sacrifices to it, and declared it as their God who brought them out of Egypt. The Lord saw their acts of idolatry and His anger burned against them so much that He told Moses that He would destroy them and make a great nation of Moses.
Moses quickly pleaded with the Lord. Moses began by speaking of God’s great power and mighty hand that delivered the Israelites from Egypt. He also spoke of how the Egyptians would perceive the Lord if He destroyed the Israelites after they were brought out of Egypt. Lastly, Moses spoke of the promise the Lord made to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel to multiply their descendants as numerous as the stars, as well as the promise of the inheritance of the Promised Land (Exodus 32:11-13). Later, in an attempt to further spare the Israelites, Moses even offered his eternal life for the sake of the Israelites (Exodus 32:32).
Moses’ prayer to the Lord was a genuine, heart-felt appeal for the forgiveness of the Israelites’ sin. Moses’ unselfish prayer was not left unheard. After the Lord heard his earnest plea, the Lord demonstrated His holiness, faithfulness, and His compassion toward the Israelites and did not destroy them. This isn’t to say that the Lord was in agreement with the sin committed by the Israelites; however, He demonstrated great mercy by not destroying them. The Lord made it very clear that the Israelites would indeed receive punishment for their sin and this punishment resulted in the children of Israel being smitten with a plague for their idolatry.
The Lord is so kind to all of us as He withholds the wrath that we deserve. As you think of the magnitude of compassion the Lord showed toward the children of Israel, give thanks to the Lord for Christ who experienced the wrath of God for your sins. Moses was a good example of being an advocate for the Israelites by pleading for the mercy of God on their behalf. Jesus is our great Advocate who died for us so that we would not be eternally separated from God because of sin. Sin continues to and will always bring the wrath and anger of God. But because of the willful sacrifice of Christ for the sins of the world, we can know for ourselves by His grace through faith and genuine repentance, we can experience the compassion and mercy of God in the midst of anger.
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