In this passage, we see the people coming before God to confess their sins. And in this prayer, we see two things. The unfaithfulness of the Jews and God’s grace.
The prayer starts with how God created everything, and then chose one man Abram to start a nation. It then talks about how the Jews were enslaved in Egypt, but how by God’s grace he delivered them and led them through the desert.
But despite all the miracles he performed, the people wanted to go back to Egypt and return to their lives as slaves. And instead of worshiping God as he is, they made an idol and called that God.
Yet God showed grace even then, providing them food and water in the desert and continuing to lead them.
He then brought them into Canaan, a land of milk and honey, but there they turned their backs on God once more, killing his prophets and serving their own gods.
As a result, God handed them to their enemies, but when they cried out to God in their distress, once again in his grace he saved them. But the time came when finally he sent them into exile. And so the people prayed,
But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our ancestors so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces. Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress. (36-37)
Now they came before God with repentant hearts, seeking to renew their covenant with him.
It’s amazing to me that God would show so much grace to them. If I had been God, I would’ve given up on them. But he never did. Even now, he has not given up on these people he has called.
And I think that it’s a good thing. Because I’m just as bad in my own way as the Israelites. I stumble in my sin, and I fall. Like the Israelites, so often I harden my heart, and do what I know is wrong. Yet though I am unfaithful, God remains faithful. And he never gives up on me. For that, I am truly grateful.
Lord, forgive me for the times I’ve hardened my heart to you. You have acted faithfully, while I have acted wickedly. Lord, help me to hate my sin. And help me to love you so much that I flee from sin. Let my love for you become greater than my desire for sin. Change me O Lord. In Jesus name, amen.