Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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The Holy Book of Exodus 32:7-10 depicts God as lacking forgiveness for and quick to judge the very same people that he had rescued from the hands of the Egyptians. Indeed, without the intercession of Moses, God would have destroyed all the people that Moses had worked so hard to save. How does the Coptic Church view this subject?

"'As I live,' says the Lord GOD, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?'" (Ezek 33:11). God does not want anyone to die in his sin but He says, "Return to Me, and I will return to you" (Mal 3:7).

God does not lack forgiveness for those who repent and ask for His forgiveness. The children of Israel were still in their sin even after God, in His great mercy, had accepted Moses' supplications and relented from the harm He was intending to incur upon His people. Coming down from the mountain and seeing the calf, Moses burned it, ground it, and made them drink it. After all that, the Holy Bible tells us "Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies), then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, "Whoever is on the Lord's side; come to me." And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him" (Exodus 32:25). The children of Israel, except for the sons of Levi, remained in their sin refusing to be on the Lord's side.

So when God had decided to destroy the people, it was not out of lack of forgiveness, but because of His foreknowledge of their disobedience and lack of repentance. Moses interceded not because he was more forgiving than God, but because he didn’t know God‘s nature. Why did God listen to Moses' intercession then? So that Moses, in his lack of foreknowledge, would not have a wrong impression about God.

Sin and its consequences grieve God. Though God does not delight in destroying the wicked, He does not allow sin to go unchecked. If He did, sin would eventually destroy all people and all creation. So, for the one who persists in sin, punishment is the final result. But he, who repents, escapes punishment.
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