I will cause my goodness to pass on front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence: the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin…
18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
5 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. 6 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, 7 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 33:18-23, 34:5-7
“I will cause my goodness to pass on front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence.” I’m not sure I would ask what Moses asked. I am not that confident in my standing before God to ask to see him face to face before the redemption of my body at Christ’s coming.
I am thankful, though, that Moses asked and that God passed before him. For we are blessed with God’s description of himself as he passes.
God describes himself as the compassionate and gracious God. Isn’t that what we want in the God in whom we trust? Grace and compassion are needed more than anything by this broken generation in which we live. “I am slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” This is getting better. If you have ever been around someone who is quick to anger you’ll know and understand how important this is. Slow to anger. That’s what we need, God.
Sometimes we think that we are the ones who maintain our relationship with God. We are egocentric and think we are the prime mover on our relationship with God. We are not. God maintains love toward us. We respond to it, yet God maintains it. He started out. It’s all God. His forgiveness is an example of how he maintains his love for us.
We violate the relationship with God repeatedly and he forgives to maintain his love. Otherwise we would likely be burnt up where we stand. We need that forgiveness for our wickedness, rebellion, and sin. All of it. That’s me. That’s you. That’s us.
Can we stop there? Isn’t that good enough? That’s all I need. Unfortunately no. Not going to happen. Even though God is forgiving, he does not leave the guilty unpunished. Our guilt is so deep that God continues to punish it up to four generations. Hold on… That doesn’t make sense. How could that be?
How can God be so forgiving, yet also need this justice for the sins we commit. How does that go together? Apart from the gospel of Jesus, this would not make sense. Yet God created a plan. We see it in the sacrificial system of the old testament. God made a way for sin to be punished – to be accounted for through animal sacrifice.
Jesus is the fulfillment of that whole system – that whole plan. He is the sacrifice which fulfills forever God’s need for justice and redemption and consequence. Jesus redeemed us. The curse of sin from Old Testament times and teaching is broken in power of Jesus rising from the dead to defeat sin and death.
And didn’t the goodness of God pass in front of us through Jesus’ sacrifice? We have seen his glory. The glory of the one and only. Full of grace and truth… (John 1:14). Praise God for who he is and how he loves and what he has done.