Exodus 33-35: Mercy, Not Rejection

What an amazing picture of love these chapters are to me tonight!

The Israelites had just built themselves a golden calf.  The Lord was understandably very, very angry with them.  Moses was furious, too, and many of the people (those who weren’t Levites) were killed for their participation in the pagan revelry.

God was so enraged that initially he decided to destroy the people completely.  And then, after thinking about it, he relented.

Have you ever done that with your children?

I know I have.  A product of my paternal genes, I have an almost comical tendency to over-react to things that happen to me and around me.  Like Yosemite Sam, smoke comes out of my ears when I get my buttons pushed. My dad used to famously tell me NO anytime I asked to do anything with my friends.  His stock answer was always no!  I learned that if I threw a fit, his answer would stay no, but if I accepted his authority and went on with my day, he usually came to me and changed his mind.  I see those same types of scenarios in myself.

A sassy mouth?  I lower the boom quickly with a 3-day grounding from electronics, friends, phones, toys — you name it, I restricted it.  And then remorse comes over me as I realize my knee-jerk reaction was too harsh…and I do for my daughter what the Lord did for the Israelites…show mercy.

Only thing is, God’s mercy is much grander than anything I can do, and they are done from a completely different perspective!  Whereas I change my mind and relent because I am the one who over-reacted and messed up, God shows mercy from a position of perfection…just because He can!  These verses from Exodus 33 almost leapt off the page:

2 One day Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Take these people up to the Promised Land.’ But you haven’t told me whom you will send with me. You have told me, ‘I know you by name, and I look favorably on you.’ 13 If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. And remember that this nation is your very own people.”14 The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.”

15 Then Moses said, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. 16 How will anyone know that you look favorably on me—on me and on your people—if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.”

17 The Lord replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.”

18 Moses responded, “Then show me your glorious presence.”

19 The Lord replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh,[c] before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. 20 But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” 21The Lord continued, “Look, stand near me on this rock. 22 As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen.”

Not only did God show mercy, but he offered the gift of his presence.  That very presence of the Lord is what sets us apart — and what He’s telling me tonight is that he longs for everyone he created to be set apart and holy.  He longs to show compassion and mercy to everyone — and he ultimately gave us Jesus, his Only Son, to accomplish this mercy in a final, once-for-all act:

37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. 39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

Have you set something up in your life as an idol?  Is there something calf-like in your worship?  I had a reality check last night about all my activities as director of a homeschool group.  I MUST draw some boundaries.  I refuse to let it stand in the way of my relationship with my family and friends.  Because I truly have no idea how to make these kind of boundaries (I am an all or nothing kind of person, if you readers haven’t noticed!) and stick to them, I am adding that to my prayer list.  God knows I need them, and I do have faith that He will help me achieve a balance, one way or another…he continues to shower me with mercy and forgiveness.

Jesus said, “I will never reject them.”

The Greek words could also be translated, “I will certainly not cast them out.”

I like the word “certainly.”  There are many days that I feel that if anyone is deserving of rejection, it’s me, blowing up like Yosimite Sam again.  Yet the Lord is working on me, perfecting me.  It’s that holy work in progress idea all over again.

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