Read Exodus 32:1–14
The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.Genesis 3:21
Rob Bell published his book Love Wins in 2011, which argues against traditional interpretations of hell. Many evangelical leaders accused Bell of heresy. Derek Tidball, a member of the Evangelical Alliance Board, said that in Bell’s book, “God’s wrath is touched on only very inadequately and insubstantially.”
Is it impossible to believe that God can both punish sin as well as forgive it, that He can be as exacting in His wrath as He is infinite in His mercy? Holding to these two eternal truths of God’s character is never easy, and often Christians have been inclined to favor one over the other. But if we emphasize God’s wrath to the exclusion of His mercy, we might never experience real intimacy with God. But if we do not concede that He hates sin and stands in opposition to it, we can rationalize our wrong choices.
Notice that today’s reading, like the rest of Scripture, upholds both of these dimensions of God’s character. We’re at the scene of egregious sin: Moses had disappeared, and the Israelites, restless for the watchful care and protection of God, donated their jewelry to make an idol to stand in His place.
God saw their sin and pronounced swift and severe judgment against them. This “anger” of God may not be easy for us to absorb, but we have to remember that He is never capricious when He punishes sin. From the very beginning of time, He has warned humanity: if we choose sin, we are choosing distance rather than intimacy, death rather than life.
Moses immediately interceded, and he requested that God act in keeping with His name and His character. He had the confidence that God can show mercy because He is indeed merciful.
Apply the Word
In Scripture, we see God described as both Judge and Father. At the cross, God acted as Judge to punish His innocent Son for our sin; as Father, God did not spare Jesus from this unjust death so that we, too, might be adopted as His sons and daughters. Thank the Lord today for this perfect, simultaneous expression of God’s judgment and mercy.
Pray with Us
Please ask for God’s help and guidance