The Mercy of God
Exodus 32:1-26; Luke 15:1-10
September 12, 2010
by Duane Maust
This is an interesting trial that the Israelites went through. They got themselves in trouble while their leader was gone. When I read the story, it hit me in a new way who God is and how he works.
Moses was up on the mountain with God for over a month. He was on Mt. Sinai for 40 days. Think about that spiritual retreat. He was spending time with God, and God was writing on the tablets of stone, the 10 commandments for Moses to take back to his people.
The people down below may have thought Moses died on the mountain and was not coming back. That still was not an excuse to build an idol.
Look at verse 7. God already knew Moses had trouble back at the camp. God really cared about those people. But those people broke His heart.
What did they do? They got bored. Maybe they got scared. They had Aaron make a golden calf. Some places I read, it would have been better translated bull. Aaron had the Israelites bring their gold that they had with them and formed it into this calf. It probably was formed over wood and overlaid with gold.
In verse 4, notice that the word god is written with a small g. That is not the way our God wants it. It is easy for us to think about how foolish it was to build this calf. But I bet there are things that we let come between God and ourselves. I will let you answer that for yourself. God wants to be number 1 in our lives. That is with a capital G.
Here is what hit me the hardest in this story this time. Look at what God has to say.
Read vs. 7-10
I would say God was ticked off. He knew he needed some cool-off time. I don’t think that is good to be called stiff-necked. What is stiff-necked? I had a show steer get a stiff neck at the county fair. He had his mind about where he wanted to go. He was out of control. My steer broke loose and ran in the midway. That was not fun. The children of Israel had their own minds about worship. (Your people)
God really cared about those people. You know what? He cares about us today when we get sidetracked. We may have to tell God to give us another chance. Or maybe you have a grandma or someone else praying like Moses.
Read vs. 11-14
The Believers Commentary says, “We must recognize that Moses had not overpowered God’s unwillingness to spare Israel. Instead, he had seized upon God’s desire to be merciful.”
When Moses got to the bottom of the mountain, he was furious. He was in about the same mind as God. The stones went flying. I think that means he was upset.
I thought about throwing the stones I have on the table to make my point. But I will pass on that idea.
God does care when we get lost. Your church leaders care about you and hope you stay focused on God. We often pray for you like Moses prayed. Begging God for mercy.
You can read the next several verses and see what happened to the people that didn’t get things together.
Let’s look at Luke 15:8-10. Jodi already told the children this story.
We may think one little coin or person is not very important. But we each are important to God.
The other night I was doing some field work on the tractor. I was raking and going a pretty good clip. That means I was bouncing a good bit. When I got off the tractor at the house, I happened to reach back and feel my wallet was gone. All I could think was that I raked it up and would never find it. I went back to the tractor with a heavy heart and just looked on the tractor. There it was, lying behind the seat on the frame of the tractor. I was very happy to say the least.
This is a poor example because there will be more cheering in heaven over sinners that come to God than I was able to do over my wallet. I know God was excited to get the Israelites back on track after the golden calf. God and his angels and your friends are excited when you get it back on track.
You can also read the parable about the one lost sheep when you have 99 all safe. God is merciful to the one lost sheep. In the verses that follow the lost coin, the lost son has a very merciful father. Check that story out.
You know what? We have a merciful God looking out for us. He is being patient for us to come around.