In my study of the first five books of the Bible I've noticed how harsh God's judgment can seem to me. Why would that be?
God tells us that he is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, and overflowing in kindness and truth (Ex 34:6). Yet there he is sending plagues, having the earth swallow up the rebellious, and so forth. Is there an inconsistancy there?
I say no.
What I'm learning is that God places a special premium of responsibility to those who have seen him work directly. These people were the very eyeballs that saw the cloud by day and the fire by night every waking moment of their day. The saw - repeatedly - the miraculous working of God and the repeated confirmation of Moses as his prophet. And yet several still didn't want to get it. That's what I get out of the judments I see: God saying (I'm speculating here): if you don't believe me after all of what you've seen, you just never will.
I think specifically of the guy named Korah who claimed Moses was lording it over the people. Moses actually listened to this, gave Korah the night to think it over, and then Korah continued to resist the inevitable conclusion of all the years of Moses' prophetic role with Israel in the wilderness. Korah was judged and his life taken from him.
Yet, in these same books, I see that God is as he says he is: compassionate and forgiving. One might think that Korah's name would be blotted out forever in the history and culture of Israel. But the contrary is the case: it is the "Sons of Korah" who contributed 12 Psalms to scripture. Later generations of Korah's family pressed in so close to God that their poetry was recognized as God's Word.
I think that today, when we see God work directly, is there not as terrible a responsibility to live according to what we've seen?
I also see God's working on Abaraham, even though Abe made terrible choices early in our biography of him. Abe's family was plauged with "dysfunction," yet God was faithful and kept his promise to them. I think of Moses - God continuing to work in Moses' life as a leader even though Moses wasn't going make it to the Promised Land.
That gives me hope! If God can take Abe and Moses from "zeros" to "heros," perhaps he can work in my life, too.