Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people. (Ex 33:3)
After the Israelites worshiped the golden cow, God said that He would not go with the people, but would send an angel instead. So, God showed the Israelites that their perverseness made this severe punishment necessary for them. However, even in His judgment, He remembered to show mercy to them. The Ten Commandments and related laws defined Israel’s relationship with God. To obey those laws was to act righteously, because such obedience maintained the covenant between God and His people. As David wrote, “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy” (Ps 103:7-8).