Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel was also among those who called upon his name. They called to the Lord, and he answered them. In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them; they kept his testimonies, and the statute that he gave them. O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings. Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy! Psalm 99:6-9.

Psalm 99 exalts God as the sovereign king over all things. Verses 1-5 speak of his greatness because he is holy. Because he is holy, he chose Moses and Aaron to be his priests to represent him to the people and to represent the people before God (v. 6-9). In the midst of this, we have this statement in verse eight, “O LORD, our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings.”

God was for Israel because he was a forgiving God. Since God is holy and human beings are not holy, the only way to have relationship with God is he must choose to forgive. The Hebrew word has various meanings, but the idea is that God lifts away or takes away their sin. He forgives them. He must because he is holy. He forgives because he wants to be in a relationship with his people. Israel kept the testimonies and statutes, but they did not do this perfectly. Regardless of the nature or extent of their sin, God was generous in his forgiveness and abundant in his patience.

God was for Israel in that he was the avenger of their wrongdoings. Because God was holy, he could never ignore sin. While he was generous towards Israel in his forgiveness, he was persistent in dealing with their sinful behavior. He was relentless to never allow his people to “get away with sin”. As quick as he was to forgive, he was diligent in pursuing his people to discipline them for their sin. His purpose was to discipline them so he could forgive them. He was both their greatest advocate and their most fearful adversary. He is their rescuer and the one who would impose recompense for their sin. His holiness made the provision for their failure. His holiness also provoked him to pursue them when they went astray.

God was for them, so they keep His Word. God did not force them to guess what he wanted from them. He did not keep it a mystery nor did he play hide and seek with them. The LORD was desirous to have a people that he loved, love him. God was completely transparent that if they were to serve a holy God, he was very clear about what he expected. No mind-reading, no puzzles to figure out, no conundrums to investigate. God was clear about what relationship with him required. He made it plain to his people what they were to do if they were going to be his people.

God was for them, so they ought to worship him. In spite of the fact that God was their greatest advocate and their greatest adversary, they could rest secure that no matter how serious their failure, God was the perfect person, the only person, who could provide a way of restoration. God made the impossible, possible. He was perfect in his holiness, and he knew how to perfectly interact with imperfect human beings. His provision is astounding and mind-boggling. He is advocate and adversary, all wrapped into one. The result was Israel was called to worship and exalt the LORD their God. He is worthy of their praise and devotion. He alone was deserving of their allegiance and devotion because the God who is holy, was for them.

Pastor Brad