Moses had some brass, didn’t he? He takes words that God used to describe God’s self, and throws them back into God’s face. Remember Exodus 34? God passes before Moses and declares, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7)
The children of Israel tremble with fear when they hear that the Promised Land has fortified cities and giants. They doubt Moses’ leadership ability and more importantly, God’s intentions in bringing them there. They want to go back to Egypt.
God has had enough. “I will kill them all,” God storms. Moses responds, “Wait a minute. Aren’t you gracious, forgiving, slow to anger and all that? All the nations will think you are a weakling, not worthy of the title of god.”
So God relents?sort of. Forgiveness is granted, but God invokes the second clause of that quotation, hence all the doubters die in the wilderness; only their children-and Caleb-will enter.
We are comforted by God’s overwhelming grace. But it would be well to remember that God is holy and will not be mocked.
Loving God, be merciful to me, a sinner. Amen. — DAB