Buyer’s remorse is a common ailment most of us experience. We lay out a large sum of money, or invest a lot of time or other resources. Then, when we get our “prize” we often immediately feel a sense of regret. Why oh why did I waste all that (money, time, whatever) for THIS? Sometimes that feeling only lasts a short while — other times, it sticks with us for a long time.
It seems to me that the Israelites this week are feeling buyer’s remorse when it comes to God, Moses, and the promised land. At every turn, they seem to be saying how much better off they were back in Egypt. Better food. More secure lives. After all, life as a slave wasn’t all that bad, was it? At least they knew where their next meal was coming from, and where they’d be sleeping that night. Sometimes, the buyer’s remorse is so strong, they decide that they want to “take it back” and go back to being slaves in Egypt. But, of course, that’s not an option. Some things can’t be returned.
I know that if I were one of the Israelites, I’d probably be reacting in a similar way. I like my routine and my daily creature comforts — I wouldn’t want to leave that all behind for a vague promise of something better in the future, at least not once I was no longer under the immediate threat of the whips of the slave drivers. It’s easy to say that the Israelites were just stubborn and ungrateful for all that God had done for them, but I think there’s more of that in all of us than we’d like to admit.
But I don’t think that the Israelites were the only ones showing signs of buyer’s remorse!
Moses expresses his frustration on more than one occasion, He even says to God, essentially “Kill me now.” He’s got the burden of leading this herd of people who make a donkey seem cooperative by comparison. No wonder if he regrets ever turning aside to look at that burning bush!
And then there’s God himself. In several instances, God is ready to wipe them all out, and start over again with just Moses. Moses has to talk God down. To persuade God, for instance, that killing them all off wouldn’t look good to the neighbors. At least, that’s the way the text reads. I’m not sure how comfortable I am with that image of God. A God who regrets choosing God’s people. Who regrets saving them.
So, what do you think? Was there “buyer’s remorse’ going on? What are the consequences of that remorse by the various parties? And does that have ANYTHING to do with our lives today?