3 Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, or I would consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”
God is exasperated! And why wouldn’t he be? The Israelites have the attention span of a fruit fly. They agree to a Covenant one minute and then break Commandment #2 before the chiseling is even dry on the tablet. They complain all the time even though they have plenty of food, and though they keep coming back, they keep going wrong.
But God doesn’t just wrath them. He punishes them, yes, but not their children; he still provides future generations with plenty. He knows he’s too annoyed to come among them, because his temper would flare up, so he keeps Himself to Himself and has Moses guide them while he counts to ten. Again and again and again.
And He’s still counting.
We are (okay, I am – I’m not going to speak for everyone) a stiff-necked people. I break commandments right and left. I don’t love my neighbor as myself. I covet things. I have yet to make a golden calf, but that’s probably just because I haven’t seen a compelling How-To reel on Instagram.
I don’t do it purposefully or spitefully, but I mess up all the time. And God is not in the habit of leading me around by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, either – is that because He’s annoyed with me?
I have to think it’s not. It’s not that I’m less sinful than the Israelites; despite having the benefit of 2600ish years’ worth of What-Not-To-Do examples, I’m still a sinner. Sin is sin, across time and geography and degree of manna consumption.
So why am I not in exile? (And I’m very much not. I live a comfortable, secure, easy life; I’m ten feet away from a shelf full of milk – almond and cow – along with multiple jars of Swiss meadow-flower honey.)
The answer, of course, is Jesus. The answer is always Jesus. (Shout out to my Youth Group kids – keep this in mind the next time we’re playing Confirmation Class Review Jeopardy.)
Jesus also grew exasperated – a lot – but he didn’t consume anyone. Jesus is Emmanuel: God with us. He is God in human form, not in fiery pillar form. He came to save us and to heal us – from stiff necks, sin, and death.
Occasional emails from Megan
I promise not to spam you and I promise not to be boring.