To be honest, when I was young, I had a hard time studying Old Testament books like Exodus. It wasn’t because they weren’t interesting to read. I enjoyed hearing the stories and learning the history found in the books. Intellectually I knew the stories were important because God would not have inspired their writing if they weren’t. I was even able to see and appreciate the patterns of Israel’s disobedience, God’s discipline, and finally God’s forgiveness. The problem in studying them was that I hadn’t developed the ability to see myself in the same situations.
Now that many years have passed, filled with many more experiences, I better understand my own sin nature and depravity. I can now very easily see myself in the Israelite’s behavior, so studying these same Old Testament books fills me with hope. When I read Exodus 34 now, I am blown away that God still has provision for Moses and for the Israelites after all that has just happened! The people have just turned from God to worship an idol made by human hands. These people did not deserve a new set of tablets to replace the ones broken in Moses’s anger when he returned from meeting with God, but God provided a replacement for them anyway. I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful that “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” is the God I serve. (Ex. 34:6b-7a, NIV) I see myself in this story – my sin, my turning from God to seek after things of the world, and my sorrow when my sin is made known – and my love for God grows when I study the story because I see His desire to bring me back to a right relationship with Him after I’ve sinned. I am so thankful that God provides forgiveness and restores what was broken because of my sin!