“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.” Exodus 34:6-7
What forms your idea of God? Childhood memories, personal experiences, and unmet expectations can create a skewed picture of God. To rightly understand who God is, we must look to the only completely reliable source: God Himself, as He reveals Himself in His Word.
In the verses above, God proclaimed His name to reveal Himself to Moses. English Bibles translate God’s personal name as “LORD.” In Hebrew, only the consonants “YHWH” appear. The name Jews considered so holy that they dared not speak it or even write it completely, is “I AM.” With His name, God corrected the Israelites’ misconceptions. Not a calf formed out of gold earrings (Exodus 32:2-4). Not the image of anything in heaven or on earth. The self-existent One. Not made by anyone.
Merciful and gracious. Although ready to destroy the Israelites because of their idolatry, God relented when Moses interceded on their behalf (Exodus 32:7-14). The people deserved death; God gave mercy.
Faithless, grumbling and quarreling, the people questioned God’s love. Yet God did not change with the Israelites’ feelings. His abounding, steadfast love remained the same.
Forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, but by no means clearing the guilty. This statement must have puzzled Moses. How could God forgive sin without clearing the guilty? How could God be both forgiving and just?
Not until Jesus’ death and resurrection could we truly understand this mystery. But the Bible has been clear all along. God is who He says He is.
Holy God, when you revealed yourself to Moses, he “quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped” (Exodus 34:8). May I do the same. You are. You always have been. You always will be. You are merciful and gracious, far beyond what I can comprehend. Teach me to think rightly about who you are. Thank you for your steadfast love and faithfulness. Amen.
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