16 ‘But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands. 17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them, 18 even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, “This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,” or when they committed awful blasphemies.” NIV

Don’t you at times grow weary of constantly messing up? In fact, aren’t you tired of making the same messes again and again? Our sense of personal sin can drive us to despair. How can we keep on doing these things? Well…

Here is a truth to take to heart: It’s a truth about the character of God (17b). What comfort we can find here. It doesn’t provide an excuse for sin; nor should it cause us to take personal wrong-doing lightly. But we can see that the Israelites weren’t merely ‘making mistakes’. Look how the expression “stiff-necked” appears twice (16,17). Note also the description of them as becoming “arrogant” (16). God had wilful rebellion on His Hands. They treated so badly the One who had treated them so well. But He “did not desert them even when” they became idolaters and blasphemers. We can take to heart that if we cast ourselves on the mercy of God, we will find very real forgiveness.

Here is a truth to heed: The Israelites repeatedly forgot (and abused) the goodness of God. This cycle recurs through Old Testament history, and it is reflected throughout this prayer. There is a lesson here for us to learn; a warning to heed. We also need to note that when we choose the sinful path we opt for slavery. We turn our backs on God to grasp an illusion of freedom. Even as we go to grab it, we find it bursts in our hands like a bubble in a bath. The liberty we so much long for eludes us. Satan is a deceiver and we are duped by his lies (often all too willingly).

Prayer: Thank you Lord that there is forgiveness with you. Help me to never take liberties with your kindness.