Monday, July 23, 2012

Second Chances

The LORD passed before Moses, and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Exodus 34.6)

In Exodus 34, Moses is in the worst imaginable predicament. Not long before, God met him on Mt. Sinai, set down some basic rules for Israel, and affixed promises of longevity and a new land as incentives for obedience. Coming off the mountain, Moses discovered Israel had succumbed to idolatry in his absence. In a rage, he smashed the tablets inscribed with God’s laws—and hence literally broke God's contract God with Israel. By all rights, God could say, “That’s that,” and leave Moses to manage Israel on his own. But God calls him back to the mountain and reissues the contract. Rather than dwell on Moses’s anger—rather than turn against Israel for its false worship—when God meets Moses again, the first thing God does is remind him Whom he’s dealing with: a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithful.

When we confront evidence that something’s gone haywire in our society, we must know that God is faithful. Idolatry—of a golden calf, a cartoon villain (as we’ve just seen), or anything else that supplants our love for God—will inevitably result in destruction. Yet God faithfulness is manifested in second chances. Whether on a scale that rivets global attention or in tiny ways that go unnoticed, harms we visit on others and ourselves are not cause for God to abandon us. We will suffer for our wrongs. But we’ll never be left alone. God calls us back to the mountain and reminds us we’re dealing with the LORD, the merciful, gracious, patient, loving, and faithful God of second chances.

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