God had just had enough. The people were rebellious, ungrateful, faithless, wayward, and on and on. He was done. He sent them on their way, to the land he had promised them, but he needed some space from them. He wasn’t going among them.
It was a moment like no other since the flood, a moment of God saying enough is enough. A moment when God wanted to wipe the slate clean—wipe it clean of all these despicable people—and just start over. But unlike the flood, this time God hears Moses, sees his mercy, and relents. He changes his mind and lets the people live, even though he was well within his rights to destroy them. He lets them live but says, “You go. I’m not going among you. I’m too angry. I’ll probably just end up destroying you any way…
…and then there was grace.
One day Moses said to the Lord , “You have been telling me, `Take these people up to the Promised Land.’ But you haven’t told me whom you will send with me. You have told me, `I know you by name, and I look favorably on you.’ If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. And remember that this nation is your very own people.” The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.” Exodus 33:12-14
Moses comes to God and essentially says, “Look, when we started this journey it was you and me and you assured me that you would go with me. Now things have changed but you keep telling me to take the people to the Promised Land. So if you aren’t coming with me, who is?”
And God—with all grace and mercy, with forgiveness that would be considered ill-advised—says “I will personally go with you. I will give you rest. Everything will be fine.”
I will go with you even though you don’t deserve it. I will give you rest even though you often choose restlessness. I will make sure that all is fine, even though you behave in ways that disrupt all that is good. I will personally go with you.
This is the gospel we live for. This is the faith we speak. This is the truth that changes people and nations and history. This is the gospel of grace—the gospel of Jesus.
The Father looks upon the people he has made and his pureness of heart and perfectness of character sees the wickedness we have chosen. And he knows—we deserve destruction. But as he looks, that same pureness of heart and perfectness of character loves endlessly and wholly. So he sends Jesus, saying, I will personally go with you…even though you don’t deserve it. I will go with you as you come to me.
The story of human history is simply this: God loved but we hated. God gave but we wanted more. God created but we tore down. God brought life but we murdered. Again and again and again. So God saw that we deserved death; that the most right thing to do would be to put each and every one of us down; to wipe the slate clean. And then there was grace.
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners Romans 5:8
* photo by diego medrano *