Of the current late night talk shows, the one I like best (if I’m ever awake that late) is Letterman. For several years, on every show, he’s showcased “Great Moments in Presidential Speeches”, where the research guys at the show find verbal slip-ups that the president has made on tape. No matter if you love Bush or hate him, they’re hilarious. A while back, the subject of Letterman’s Top Ten list was his favorite George W. Bush moments. It’s pretty funny. Check it out…
One of the things I love about the Bible, and that convinced me of it’s authority, is that it’s not afraid to show the sins and failures of it’s characters (which REALLY makes Jesus stand out because of His sinless life). Psalm 99 does just that.
Psalm 99 is all about encouraging people to worship God because of His great power, justice, and righteousness. The second half of the Psalm mentions several “heroes” of the Bible. Look what the author writes in Psalm 99:6-9,
Moses and Aaron were among His priests, and Samuel was among those who called on His name; they called upon the Lord and He answered them. He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; they kept his testimonies and the statute that He gave them. Our Lord God answered them; You were a forgiving God to them, and yet an avenger of their evil deeds. Exalt the Lord our God and worship at His holy hill, for holy is the Lord our God.
While Samuel (the last judge of Israel who has two Old Testament Bible books named after him) is mentioned here, the focus seems to be on Moses and Aaron, who God used to lead the ancient Israelites out of Egypt, because of the mention of God speaking to them in the pillar of cloud (if God did this to Samuel, I can’t find it). Moses prayed on behalf of the ancient Israelites multiple times, pleading with God to forgive them for their stubborness, complaining, and lack of trust in Him. Aaron was the first priest, offering sacrifices to God on behalf of the people. They called upon God and He answered them… in spite of their “Top Ten List” worthy mistakes.
Moses was a man of pride and a murderer in his younger days and, at times in his latter days, a man of rashness who failed to give glory to God (he once struck a rock to miraculously give water to the people, but God told him to speak to the rock–a seemingly small indescretion, but it failed to give glory to God). Aaron was nothing short of a big fat liar. Early in the trip away from Egypt, Moses was gone for an extended period of time. The people came to Aaron (who was Moses’ older brother), and asked him to make an idol for them. He took their gold jewelry and proceeded to construct an idol for them, which lead to all kinds of debauchery. Moses came back, asked Aaron what happened, and Aaron’s response was worthy of a clip on Great Moments in Presidential (or, in his case, Priestly) Speeches: I threw the gold into the fire, and this calf came out. His actions led to the death of many people.
Yet, God was a forgiving God to them. God had every right to strike them down on the spot for their sin. He didn’t. He continued to allow them to lead. Were there consequences for their actions? Yes. Neither Moses nor Aaron were allowed to enter the promised land. Both died on the way. But their sin was forgiven.
God’s grace is a truly humbling thing. To know that He forgives us of our sin, no matter what it may be, is mind-blowing. Are their consequences for our sin, even with forgiveness? Yes. Adultery can be forgiven, but it still may result in a broken marriage or divorce. Greed can be forgiven, but there can still be bankruptcy and crushed credit. Gossip can be forgiven, but there can still be damaged friendships and ruined reputations. But no matter what, there is forgiveness. There is comfort. There is healing that can only be found in Jesus, our great God and Savior.
Grace. Grace. God’s grace. Grace that can pardon and cleanse within. Grace. Grace. God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all our sin.
And for that grace, God indeed deserves our praise.