Summary: Pentecost 17(C) - God’s promises do not change. (Israel worships the golden calf.) Just as God’s anger burns against sin even more so God’s love provides forgiveness.
Things were worse than Moses thought. Listen to the Lord’s description. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, `These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ Not only did they make a golden calf but also these people, God’s chosen people, bowed down to the golden calf to worship it. They brought offerings and sacrifices to this lifeless man-made monstrosity. Even worse the people of God gave credit to this idol for delivering them from the hands of the Egyptians. There is only one conclusion to such disobedience. "I have seen these people," the LORD said to Moses, "and they are a stiff-necked people. Israel no longer wanted to be yoked to the Lord. With stiff necks Israel shook off that yoke which united them with the true God. Idol worship is what Israel wanted.
Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation." God’s anger burns against sin. The Lord would now destroy this nation rather than watch them continually disobey. So be it. The Lord could make another new, great nation out of Moses to replace Israel -- if need be. God’s anger burns against sin that separates.
From the very beginning of time to the time of Moses to our time the sinfulness of mankind has not changed. Already in the second generation of the history of mankind – the children of Adam and Eve – Cain kills Abel. Sin led to murder. Mankind continued in this great wickedness. At the time of Noah God sent a worldwide flood that destroyed millions of people. God’s anger burns against sin. But believers were spared, Noah and his family. Sadly, nothing has changed concerning sin, sinfulness, and it’s grasp on mankind. "The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time"(GENESIS 6:5). In the recesses of our hearts lurk evil and the desire to do evil.
This evil, which is sin, drives a wedge between God and us. No longer do we see nor know God’s will perfectly in our lives. All of our thoughts are tainted by sin. There is nothing that we say, think or do that has not been tarnished by our sinful nature. As long as we live and breathe in this world and this life we are not exempt from the corruption of sin. This is our constant battle, to discover what God wants, what is his will for us, for our families, our church, our Synod, and our nation. Sin makes our battle doubly difficult. "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear"(ISAIAH 59:2). God’s anger burns against sin.
We know how it is today. Many would try to earn heaven by good works. Many would try to earn heaven by obedience. Many would say we have an unfair and unjust God who sends people to hell. But that is not the truth. Man’s choice concerning eternal things is only one – a choice for evil. The choice of heavenly things has been done already by God’s grace. Consider Adam and Eve. Satan tempted them by saying it was okay to eat from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. There was the lie. Adam and Eve already completely and fully knew what was good because they knew Gods’ will. The choice they were going to make was really, only to add evil to their knowledge of good. That was not a good choice. Make no mistake our God is a just God. In his justice he does not, because he cannot, allow the guilty to go unpunished. God’s anger burns against sin. "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him"(JOHN 3:36). Faith comes by grace. God’s wrath comes by and because of man’s rejection – a bad, very bad choice. Those who want to disown God here on earth will ultimately and finally be disowned by the heavenly Father before the angels in heaven.