Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations; Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go. Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst.
Think about the worst sin you’ve ever committed. Or at least one of them. Maybe if you were honest you might acknowledge that you deserve to be punished for that sin. Maybe you could understand if God would be angry with you and decide to give up on you. Maybe in a moment of regret and remorse, you might agree with God if He decided to cast you aside. That’s kind of what Israel faced. They had just been delivered in a miraculous way from Egypt and then they proceeded to break God’s very first commandment to them, crafting that golden calf to worship, in essence forsaking Him.
Israel had seen great wonders and experienced great things from God on their journey out of Egypt. But they had also messed up along the way. They sinned, they rebelled, they doubted. Kind of like me on my journey with God. But look at God’s response. Does He hate sin? Yes. Does He judge sin? Yes. Are there consequences for sin? Most definitely. But God is full of manifold mercies. He did not forsake them. He did not leave their side. He did not withhold His blessings and provisions. Instead He continued to be with them, to go behind and before, to lead them and light them along the way.
There is a great love in the heart of God for His people. When we mess up, He deals with us in an appropriate way. But we can’t lose His presence or His love even by our sin. Nothing we do can exhaust His abundant mercy. Despite Israel’s failure, He led them along every step of the way, He fulfilled His promises, He worked in their midst, He gave them wisdom, He provided every need. And I dare say He will do the same for you and me. Our sin may make us feel unworthy of anything good from God. But in the heart of God is mercy big enough to forgive, to heal, to restore, to rebuild, to help us move forward away from that sin and into something more that He has for us.