September 9

Exodus 32:7:14

“And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.” vs. 14

In this little story from Exodus it appears that the Lord has flipped a gasket over the idolatrous behavior of the Israelites in the wilderness and is ready to wipe them all out. Moses, aware of the Lord’s anger, has to use his best debating skills to avert disaster. What stands out in the narrative is the writer’s conviction that the Lord’s mind was changed by Moses’ argument. No matter what our image of God, that’s a thought-provoking and challenging idea. The text implies that God’s natural inclination is judgment and not mercy, a view of God that many in our world seem to hold. They are convinced that when people engage in wicked and sinful behavior they deserve punishment. In other words, condemnation is God’s factory setting! But Moses in this tale reminds the Lord of a deeper truth, that the defining attribute of a truly great god is mercy. Ultimately it wasn’t the Lord’s mind that needed to be changed–it was our human notion of God! God is not vengeful and ready to wipe us out for every infraction! Indeed, God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. It took a while for Israel to grasp that truth, but it became the dominant message of the prophets and became incarnate in the life and mission of Jesus. We don’t have to change God, it’s God who changes us!

Thought for the Day: How has God changed through the years?

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