“Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.” – Exodus 32:26
In the passages leading up to this, our opening verse, the Israelites had made and worshiped the golden calf while Moses was away praying and receiving God’s words and commandments. Upon his return, he chastised the people and forced them to drink the bitter cup of being made to face the reality of their sins. Yet the story does not end there.
“And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.” – Exodus 32:20
After being made to swallow the reality that they had sinned a great sin against the Lord, and been given some time to digest what they had done, God drew a line in the sand and decisions had to be made. It’s not enough to be made aware of sin, it’s not enough to be made sorry for sin (or getting caught in it), but God actually demands that you repent of it, separate yourself from it, choose to come over to His side, and actively fight against it, or else you will die in it as these Israelites did.
“Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.” – Exodus 32:26-28
The line in the sand that day was one of decision, an ultimatum from a God who had been merciful to allow this people to see their sin and repent of it or face the penalty for it. This is an account of when mercy ran out, and the justice of God won out, to cast the pride of the wicked out from amongst His people. The sin had been committed, exposed, and the opportunity for repentance given, now it was time for the people to choose this day whom they would serve. The Lord unto life or themselves unto death.
“I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:19-23
The sons of Levi, a family chosen by God to be the priesthood for the people, chose God’s side. This is significant because Arron was a Levite and Arron was as much to blame for what had happened as anyone. Therefore, we see God’s great willingness to forgive those that are willing to humble themselves, repent of their wrongs, and realign themselves with God. However, for those that would not, came a swift, sudden, and unexpected judgment.
The moral of the story is this; “don’t play games with God“. Scripture tells us that He will show mercy to whom He will show mercy (Romans 9:15), therefore it is His prerogative as to when that mercy runs out. If He has pointed out your sins to you, made you to drink of the bitter reality of those sins and God’s right to judge it, given you time to digest both the goodness and severity of God; then you need to humble yourself, repent, and change sides. Stop playing games with God, you will loose every time. God is long suffering toward us but there comes a point when He gets enough of open rebellion, knowledgeable disobedience, and willful pride, draws a line in the sand, and tells you to choose this day whom you will serve. Don’t take a chance of being caught on the other side when mercy runs out. Repent now and take God’s side! He will only warn you so long before He cuts you off from among His congregation less you continue to defile it and frustrate the grace of God.
“For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” – Romans 11:21-22