The Israelites had broken God’s first commandments, and committed idolatry. While Moses was on Mount Sinai, the people made a golden calf and worshiped it (Ex. 32:1-10). God was angry, and in his own anger upon witnessing the idolatry, Moses smashed the stone tablets the law was written on(Ex. 32:19).
Moses returned to the mount to plead with God on behalf of the people. Moses presented himself to God as he was asked, and God made a proclamation before him. He made it known who he alone was the Lord, the Lord God. There was no other God. It was he who delivered the Israelites, and there would be no other god before him. God proclaimed his mercy and compassion. He proclaimed he was abounding in lovingkindness, and faithful to his people. Because God was full of this lovingkindness, he was forgiving of sins. However, again, God made clear that the generations who rejected him would be punished.
Moses bowed in humility, and admitted the stubbornness of Israel, accepted the Lord’s forgiveness, and as the leader of the Israelites, submitted to Him. God reestablished the covenant, and emphasized he would do great things for, through, and with the Israelites before all other nations.
God was right to be angry. The very people he had delivered from slavery betrayed him. God displayed his lovingkindness in mercy and forgiveness for his people and a proclamation of his continued faithfulness to the covenant. How merciful is God, to invite Moses back to commune with him, after the direct disobedience of Israel! God had no obligation toward the people who broke the covenant, but he did not turn his lovingkindness from them. Under the new covenant, even Christians, who profess their commitment to Christ, commit sins. A Christian may neglect to put God first, or fail to love others as we are told. Christians face temptations to sin everyday, and do fall into temptation on our journey toward holiness. We are to bow before Christ, admitting our sin and asking for the Lord’s forgiveness, whose mercy is abundant.
All men have disobeyed God, but God extends his forgiveness to all men through his son Jesus Christ. We can admit our sin before him, and reestablish a relationship with our Father in heaven.