Would you pass up a big promotion at work? Moses did.
In Exodus chapter 32, the people of Israel gave up on God so fast it would make your head spin. He had set them free from their slavery to the Egyptians (who can forget the plagues?), parted the waters of the Red Sea, and led them with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. But then they didn't hear from him for 40 days, so they made a golden calf and announced, "These are your Gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!"
This wasn't their first act of rebellion, and God had had enough. He said to Moses, "I have seen this people, and behold, it is a still-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you." Just say the word, Moses, and you can be the next Abraham. As for these yahoos, I've had enough
Moses said no thanks, and reminded God of his promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, not to mention the unchanging quality of God' character, which is to be merciful and forgiving, plus how bad it would look if God set them free one month and then killed them all the next. I mean, what would the nations say? In the end, God relented.
But think for a moment about God's anger at sin, his just, holy and righteous anger at sin. God wasn't over reacting when he thought about killing the people of Israel. It's what they deserved. And it's what we deserve. All sin deserves death and damnation. It's not a little thing, ever. Do we realize that? Do we stop to consider the fate that should be ours?
I'm convinced we don't. We take our sins lightly, and when we do, our salvation seems less glorious. This is what's behind the constant demand for life application. "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah," we say, "I know Jesus loves me. I've heard it before. Good news and all that. But what about something more deep? How can I lead like Jesus? Or invest like Jesus? Can the Bible help me lose weight? Or tell me my love language? Or how to screen my daughter's boyfriends? What about putting up with my in-laws during the holidays?"
Here's the honest truth, God gave you all the life application you need in the 10 Commandments, along with the Sermon on the Mount and some advice Paul gave in a few of his letter to husband, wives, servants, bosses and children. If you want Biblical life application, focus on that. You'll find more there than you'll have the guts to put into practice.
But none of that is your deepest need. You need what Israel needed: a Savior. You and I and they need a God who loves us even when he wants to kill us, a Heavenly Father who is just enough not to overlook a single sin, but merciful enough to punish his Son instead. We deserve what God threatened to do to Israel. And it wasn't just a threat; he carried it out, but with Jesus instead of them or us. His rage because of sin is real. And that makes the cross and empty tomb mean all the more.
If you don't take your sin seriously, the cross and empty tomb will never mean what they should.