By Rachel Burgess (Leadership Training School Student)
Humanity will always struggle to understand the enormity of God’s character and nature. In order to seek His face, we must have already done the hard process of humbling ourselves. Take a moment, and set your expectations to the side before meditating on this passage of scripture.
In order to understand who God is, let us look at who He says He is.
Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” Exodus 34:5-7
If you remember this story, Moses has been leading the Israelites out of Egypt and through the desert for many years. Just a few chapters before, God is finally giving them His commandments: how they can access Him. But when Moses comes down the mountain, he discovers that the Israelites have built a golden calf and are worshipping it, just as they did in Egypt. Moses, in his anger, throws the tablets with God’s word onto the ground, shattering them. It seems in this moment, surely God will give up on His people. Surely God will strike them down in His anger.
Yet, when Moses climbs to the top of the mountain again, this is what the Lord says of Himself. Compassionate. Gracious. Slow to anger. Abounding in Love. Hallelujah! What a God we serve! How many times have I gone back to my “golden calf”? For me, be it old relationships, familiar sin patterns, or worshiping my self-righteousness, I find that in my weakness I have a tendency to go back to the old and familiar. But my God has enough love to cover me. To forgive wickedness, rebellion, and sin. And it’s His kindness that leads me to repentance.
I also want to note the use of the word “LORD” in this passage (as opposed to “Lord” or “lord”). In Hebrew, this translated to Yahweh or “He is”. This is the most divine of all the names for God. It implies God’s self-existence and was sometimes written as “YHWH” meaning breath. The word itself was considered so holy, after writing it they would break their pen to signify that the pen could never write anything in comparison to Yahweh, the breath of life, the great I Am.
This is the character and nature of God: power and majesty beyond comprehension. What response can we have to this except the very response Moses had? Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. “Lord,” he said, “if I have found favor in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.” Exodus 34:8,9
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for being a gracious and forgiving God. You truly have gifted us with compassion we do not deserve. And You gave because of who YOU are, not because of what we have or haven’t done. Father, we indeed are a stiff-necked people. Forgive our wickedness and sin. Forgive it in my own life, and forgive this nation Lord. Search our hearts today, and reveal the ways we may be sinning against You that are hidden from our own eyes. Lord, we long to receive your healing of our land in full, on earth as it is in heaven. Teach us again, to seek Your face.