Bad candy

Exodus 33:1-6
 Once, as a kid, I got caught stealing.

I still remember how infuriated my mom was. She had a lot to say to me. And I suppose I knew she would, if she ever find out what I was doing. What came as a surprise was when she stopped talking to me. We took a quick walk to the corner store. She figured I needed to hear someone else say something. The owner, Mr. Patane, had a lot to say, too!

He kept asking me why I would do this. Why would I do this to him? To my parents? Why would I do this to myself? Of course, I didn’t know why. There was candy. I wanted it. It didn’t help my case when I said I stole more to give to my friends. Now, this was the 80s. So, he may have threatened to cut my fingers off if I did it again. But then he did something else. He gave me the candy my mom made me bring back.

I thought I won something. That was my punishment? An earful of disappointment.

Then something strange happened. I ate the candy, but it didn’t taste as good as before.

That reminds me of the people of God. It didn’t take long for them to fall short of their end of the covenant with the Lord. Their impatience and uncertainty led them to build a golden idol. They demanded it. But why? Why would they so quickly turn from God? Why would they want to go back to their old lives?

God says they are a stiff-necked people. Hard-headed. ¡Necios!

Even so, God didn’t take back the promise made to the people. Oh, for a moment, it’s even hard to call them “my people.” God told Moses, “Get on your way from here, you and the people.” God will not walk with them as before. They will not tabernacle with the Lord.

Yet, the promise sticks.

Now, the people mourned when they heard what Moses said. They took the promise they would have forfeited. But it didn’t feel the same. Either they decided to remove their jewelry as a sign of their sorrow or they followed a command to do so. Whatever the case, what we see in this experience is the people’s recognition of their sin. It did something to their experience with God. Even with each other.

Our sin carries the same kind of weight all these generations later.

Be sure, God doesn’t guilt us into repentance or faith. But a right sense of conviction for our sin reorients our lives toward faithfulness to God. It helps us better appreciate the grace the Lord gives us. And that allows us to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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