Moses' Prayer of Repentance

Leanne VanDyk

READ : Exodus 32:15-20
Exodus 32:30-34

But now, if you will only forgive their sin — but if not, blot me out of the book that you have written. (v. 32)

What should have been a wonderful time of celebration and joy for the people of Israel turned into a disaster. Moses returned from Mount Sinai with the precious tablets of the Law in his hands. But the people had become impatient waiting for him, and fashioned a golden calf to worship. When Moses returned, sheer chaos broke out. In despair and anger, Moses turned to God and prayed for him to forgive the people’s sins. But then Moses added that if God would not forgive the people, he could go ahead and erase Moses’ name from the book of life as well.

This, of course, is not how God works. God does not have a cosmic calculator by which he adds some and subtracts others. Mercy, according to God, is not a zero sum game. God’s steadfast love endures forever, and was steady enough to uphold both Moses and the people. Perhaps there are times when you feel so discouraged that you think God should just forget about you. Moses’ prayer—and its answer—is yet another reminder that God will never forsake us.


Forgive us our sins, O Lord, even sins of rebellion against you. Assure us always of your faithful love. Amen.