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©Bonnie LaBelle

Chapter 20:8b-17 (ESV)

Posted on February 17, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 20:8b-17 (ESV) - “Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt. So I led them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. I gave them my statutes and made known to them my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live. Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness. They did not walk in my statutes but rejected my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; and my Sabbaths they greatly profaned.

“Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them in the wilderness, to make a full end of them. But I 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. Moreover, I swore to them in the wilderness that I would not bring them into the land that I had given them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands, because they rejected my rules and did not walk in my statutes, and profaned my Sabbaths; for their heart went after their idols. Nevertheless, my eye spared them, and I did not destroy them or make a full end of them in the wilderness.

Question to consider: Why did God spare Israel from wrath up until this point?

The question about “why” God does something is not often answered in scripture. We know that God is good and acts out of that goodness, but often we are in the midst of circumstances in which the goodness is not immediately apparent so we continue on in faith, trusting that God allowed these circumstances to serve a greater goodness that may or may not be revealed to us in our lifetime. After someone has walked in faith for many years, he often can look back at what God has done with those circumstances and not only praise God for them, but use them to strengthen his faith moving forward.

In today’s passage, we get some insight into a different kind of “why” question. While we often ask “why” God allows something bad to happen to us, we rarely seem to ask the question of why God hasn’t judged us for our own sin. It was tragic that the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, but it never would have happened if they had left Egypt after the famine was over. The land promised to them was in Canaan, but they stayed on in Egypt because their brother, Joseph, was a powerful man and could provide them with all the comforts of Egypt. They chose the promises of the world over the promises of God, and after Joseph died, the next Pharaoh forgot about Joseph and felt threatened by the Israelites. That is the thing about the promises of the world– they are fleeting and unreliable.

God led them out of Egypt because of a promise made to Abraham that He acted upon in Moses. Moses proclaimed the name of God to Pharaoh and demanded that God’s people be let go. Pharaoh’s initial reaction was to ask who that God was since Israel had been captive in Egypt for generations. Obviously Israel had never told him about their God, and their God certainly had not done anything to make Pharaoh think He was a threat to anyone. After Pharaoh responded by exerting his power on Israel to crush any notion that their “god” would be able to help them, the people spoke out against Moses rather than having faith in God.

Here in the words given to Ezekiel, we find out that the only reason God spared Israel was to keep His name from being profaned in Egypt. Moses had invoked God to Pharaoh, and so God destroyed the gods of Egypt with His plagues and freed Israel. God gave Israel the Law and His Sabbaths so they might choose life instead of death, but they sinned against Him even though He provided for their needs and destroyed their enemies. Once again, the only reason they were spared was to keep God’s name from being profaned among the nations. Even though that generation would never enter the land, God still gave it to their children.

Today, we are every bit as deserving of God’s wrath as Israel was in Egypt and in the wilderness, but God does not pour out His wrath on us for the sake of His Son. We belong to Christ and have been clothed in His righteousness and can therefore only boast in the One who has saved us.


Dear Lord, thank You for being our high priest and mediator with the Father that we may be called children of God. We do not deserve this great gift You have given us. Please help us to do the things that bring life and reject the things that don’t. Amen.