And God? Compassionate! Forgave the sin! Didn’t destroy! Over and over he reined in his anger, restrained his considerable wrath. He knew what they were made of; he knew there wasn’t much to them, How often in the desert they had spurned him, tried his patience in those wilderness years. Time and again they pushed him to the limit, provoked Israel’s Holy God. How quickly they forgot what he’d done, forgot their day of rescue from the enemy, When he did miracles in Egypt, wonders on the plain of Zoan. He turned the River and its streams to blood— not a drop of water fit to drink. He sent flies, which ate them alive, and frogs, which bedeviled them. He turned their harvest over to caterpillars, everything they had worked for to the locusts. He flattened their grapevines with hail; a killing frost ruined their orchards. He pounded their cattle with hail, let thunderbolts loose on their herds. His anger flared, a wild firestorm of havoc, An advance guard of disease-carrying angels to clear the ground, preparing the way before him. He didn’t spare those people, he let the plague rage through their lives. He killed all the Egyptian firstborns, lusty infants, offspring of Ham’s virility. Then he led his people out like sheep, took his flock safely through the wilderness. He took good care of them; they had nothing to fear. The Sea took care of their enemies for good. He brought them into his holy land, this mountain he claimed for his own. He scattered everyone who got in their way; he staked out an inheritance for them— the tribes of Israel all had their own places.
But amazingly, God—so full of compassion—still forgave them. He covered over their sins with his love, refusing to destroy them all. Over and over he held back his anger, restraining wrath to show them mercy.
But he is merciful, and he shall be made merciful to the sins of them; and he shall not destroy them. And he did greatly, to turn away his ire; and he kindled not all his ire. (But he was merciful, and he forgave their sins; and so he did not destroy them. And he had great restraint, and turned away his anger; and he did not kindle, or release, all of his wrath.)
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