9 In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His presence saved them: in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old.
10 But they rebelled, and vexed His Holy Spirit: therefore He was turned to be their enemy, and He fought against them.
A couple of things in these two verses gave me pause. I had to stop and ponder on “In all their affliction He was afflicted.”
If you are a parent, or have a close relationship with any child, you know that when that child is sick, feverish, just miserably uncomfortable, that you don’t get much sleep either. You want to just wave the illness away with your Magic Mommy Wand. And that’s just for a minor illness. When a child has a serious illness, you suffer every moment of it with him. That’s how God felt when His people, His children, turned their backs on Him and ended up in terrible trouble. He felt every moment of their trial, and His heart ached for their reconciliation with Him. Time after time.
“And they rebelled, and vexed His Holy Spirit.” A couple of things that are significant here. First, God was vexed. Here are some synonyms for vex:
annoy, irritate, infuriate, anger, incense, inflame, enrage, irk, chagrin, exasperate, madden, pique, provoke, nettle, disturb, upset, perturb, discompose, put out;
Their disobedience was not just a passing thing. It was a burden to the heart of God.
Second, it vexed His Holy Spirit. This is important because it indicates that the Holy Spirit was present with God right from the beginning. Some believe that the Holy Spirit showed up for the first time on the Day of Pentecost, but that is not the truth .He was there when Jesus was baptized at the beginning of His ministry. He has always been present as part of the Trinity.
And, as part of the Trinity, He could be vexed at the disobedience of God’s people.
Finally, “He fought against them.” I never really considered the absolute clarity of this verse. When His people had become so full of sin, self, idolatry, and the things of the world, He was no longer going to protect them from being conquered and captured. In fact, He fought against them.
I don’t ever want to vex my God to the point that He will no longer protect me, fight for me. In fact, I don’t want to vex Him at all, because I love Him.
We need to look carefully at our lives, into our hearts, into our motives. Every time Israel fell to an enemy, it was not a sudden thing. It was a slow decline into sin, idolatry, immorality; of identifying themselves with the nations around them, and becoming more like them, and less like God.