Monday, August 28, 2006

Gods Goal Part VI

Gods Goal Part VI

The Wilderness Wandering

God had good reason to destroy his people in the wilderness because of their repeated grumbling and unbelief and idolatry. But again the Lord stays his hand and treats them graciously for his own name's sake.

But the children rebelled against me; they did not walk in my statutes, and were not careful to observe my ordinances, by whose observance man shall live; they profaned my sabbaths. Then I thought I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the wilderness. But I withheld my hand, and acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out. (Ezekiel 20:21-22, cf. vv. 13-14)

This motive of God in preserving his people in the wilderness is the same one that emerges in Moses' prayer for the people in Deuteronomy 9:27-29 when God was about to destroy the people:

Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; do not regard the stubborness of this people, or their wickedness, or their sin, lest the land from which thou didst bring them say, "Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land which he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to slay them in the wilderness." For they are thy people and thy heritage, whom thou didst bring out by thy great power and by thy outstretched arm. (See also Numbers 14:13-16, Exodus 32:11-14)

Moses appeals to God's promise to the patriarchs and argues with God that surely he does not want scorn to come upon his name, which would certainly happen if Israel perished in the wilderness. The Egyptians would say God was not able to bring them to Canaan! In allowing Moses to pray in this way, God makes plain that his decision to relent from his wrath against Israel is for his own name's sake.

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