Today, I sinned.
I sin every day, but today I was especially aware that I had committed sin, since it was a sin I know to be wrong. I was aware of the wrongness and evil of my actions throughout. Yet the action seemed so natural, so hard to not do. Everyone else does it, so why can’t I?
I wonder if this was the sentiment of the people of God at Mount Sinai.
God saved the people from slavery in Egypt. He brought them out with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Then he defeats the Egyptian army and leads them to Mount Sinai. God gave his people the law so they could live for him.
But 40 days later. 6 weeks after agreeing to the Commandments, the people have already broken them:
When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. (Exodus 32:1-6)
Commandment number 2, specifically. The one which says ‘no’ to worshipping statues and ‘no’ to calling them God.
The question is, what is God going to do with that? This sin, this blatant wrongdoing. The people knew it was wrong, they had heard God himself say so!
This people, Israel, stand on the brink of destruction. They could be wiped out by God for their sin. He has every right to. But God promised he would give Israel the land he promised to his ancestors.
As long as Israel insist upon comparing their God, saviour, redeemer and lover with golden calves he cannot be with them. Otherwise he would destroy them. The plan to enter the land is to go ahead. That’s a promise, and God always delivers on the promises he makes. Almost in spite of their sin, the people are going to enter the land ‘flowing with milk and honey’.
But without God.
Israel has this crisis, heading towards the promised land.
they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments. For the LORD had said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do with you.'” Therefore the people of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward. (Exodus 34:4-6)
God is going to deliver on the promise of a land. That is certain. But it’s not about land.
It’s really about God. The Exodus, the law, the whole nation of Israel. It’s not about the and it’s not about what they get. It’s about God himself, alone, above all things and all other gods.
In the midst of Israel’s sin, God has been glorified.
Now, when I sin, I tend to struggle with 2 main thoughts:
1. I’m going to be punished for that sin and lose my salvation.
2. God will just ignore that sin and I can move on.
God did neither of these things. God disciplined the people but did not destroy them for their sin. He did not ignore their sin either. Sure, they got to go on to the Promised Land, but something changed.
The thought of entering the promised land was meaningless if God was not with them.
God glorifies himself in the midst of sin. Sin of the worst kind.
God redeemed Israel’s sin for his own purpose. He has shown that nothing competes with or compares to him. He has shown he is above anything humans could do against him.
So what does that mean for sinful me?
How does God show himself to be glorious in the face of my sin? How is God going to redeem the parts of me which are hurting? Which are evil?
Like Israel I am on my way to a Promised Land, or a Kingdom Coming. And like Israel I sinned, I got bored with God and preferred to worship an idol.
I believe that God does not ignore my sin, otherwise he wouldn’t have sent his Son to die for it. I also believe he won’t damn me to hell for my sin, otherwise he wouldn’t have sent his Son to die for it.
What does this look like? I’ll give you an example: A good friend of mine slept with a girl he wasn’t married to, and he confessed to this sin. He owned up to it and suffered the consequences. But in the midst of his sin he showed that God was glorious, and now he and I discuss the sexual sins we struggle with on a regular basis. God redeemed my friend’s sin so that he would be glorified as worthy of abstaining from sexual sin for.
I don’t know what your story might look like, but thats mine. I encourage you to look to God, and perceive his glory in your struggle. Perhaps your heart will echo that cry of Israel: Unless you are with me, God, there is no point in this journey.
May he be everything to you.