The Lord, the Lord God (Exodus 34:4-9)
Throughout the centuries man has wanted to know what God looked like. Moses asked of God, “Please, show me Your glory” (Ex. 33:18). Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us” (Jn. 14:8).
Although no man can see God and live (Ex. 33:20), God has allowed man to see his glory. Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy elders from Israel saw the God of Israel on Mt. Sinai (Ex. 24:9-11). God promised to show his glory to Moses (Ex. 33:22). Isaiah saw a vision of God (Is. 6). Jesus told Philip that the one who had seen the Son had seen the Father (Jn. 14:9).
This morning, we want to see God. This is the context in which we find God’s self-revelation to Moses:
- God told Moses to bring up two stones tablets like the first ones, v. 4. God gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, written with God’s finger (Ex. 31:18). Moses brought those tablets down from Mt. Sinai, but he broke them when he saw Israel worshiping the golden calf.
- Moses took the two tablets of stone up Mt. Sinai just as God requested, v. 4.
- The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with Moses on top of the mountain, v. 5.
- The Lord proclaimed his name there, v. 5-6. The Lord proclaimed himself as the Lord, the Lord God. This repetition of his name may indicate God’s unchangeableness.
Let’s examine what God had to say about himself.
God Pities, v 6
The Lord described himself as merciful and gracious.
The Lord is merciful. “Merciful” is seldom used for men; mainly “merciful” refers to God. When the term is used of men, it denotes the mercy men feel for each other based on the fact they are human beings. This feeling is most easily prompted by babies or other helpless people.
When the term is used of God, “mercy” denotes the strong affection God has for his own people. “As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him” (Ps. 103:13). God’s care for his children is seen in the mercy and forgiveness he shows his people in the face of deserved punishment. Man deserves to be punished for sin. et, God, in his care, removes the punishment for sin of those who repent and turn to him.
The Lord is gracious. This adjective describes the gracious acts of God-his forgiveness, his love, and his constant care. This is a term that is only used of God.
God demonstrates his mercy. Paul obtained God’s mercy (1 Tim. 1:16). Even though he persecuted the church, Paul received God’s mercy. God’s mercy is great enough even to remove a load of sin like Paul’s.
God delights in mercy (Mic. 7:18). God actually enjoys forgiving people of their sin. We dare not use this as a license to sin. Throughout the centuries, there have been those who wanted to sin so that God could forgive. Paul refutes that idea in Rom. 6:1-2: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may about? Certainly not!”
Do you know God’s mercy? Has God forgiven your sins?
God is Patient, v 6
God is not only merciful he is also longsuffering. Longsuffering is the delay of the Lord in inflicting punishment or exercising his anger. The idea is that God delays his exercise of wrath to give time for repentance. Although Israel troubled God, “many a time He turned His anger away, And did not stir up all His wrath” (Ps. 78:38). God is “longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). God shows his longsuffering by not destroying the world by now. The Lord is giving the wicked a chance to come to him.
Although God is longsuffering, he will not wait on the wicked forever. If you are in sin, God is being patient with you; he’s giving you a chance to come to him. Why not come to him this morning?
God is Plentiful in Goodness and Truth, v 6
God abounds in goodness. Goodness here means “steadfast love,” God’s constant care and concern. “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good” (Ps. 34:8). God’s goodness can lead to repentance (Rom. 2:4). God is so very good. God has given us riches beyond measure–a free country, economic prosperity, a good church family, the forgiveness of sins. Without a doubt, God will continue to be good.
God abounds in truth. The Scriptures affirm God’s truthfulness. All God’s work is done in truth (Ps. 33:4). God cannot lie (Tit. 1:2; Heb. 6:18). Since God is truthful, we can trust what his word says–There is no room for doubting what the Scriptures teach.
Do you recognize God’s goodness and truth?
God Pardons, v 7
God keeps mercy for thousands. God does not have just a little power to forgive; that God keeps mercy for thousands shows his great power to forgive. Regardless of the sins you have committed, God can forgive; he has enough power to do so.
God forgives iniquity and transgression and sin. Iniquity, transgression, and sin, although they are synonyms, portray a different shade of meaning for sin.
- “Iniquity” refers to something that is bent, twisted, or distorted; when speaking of God’s law, the idea is that God’s law is being twisted.
- “Transgression” refers to rebellion and revolt.
- “Sin” refers to an offense, something one does which is wrong.
Do you need God’s forgiveness?
God Punishes, v 7
Although God forgives sin, he does not clear the guilty. “Clear” refers to being acquitted of a crime; God does not acquit the guilty. God is a just God; he does not allow sin to go unpunished. “The LORD loves justice” (Ps. 37:28). “For I, the LORD, love justice” (Is. 61:8). In his justice, God will punish sin, and he will do so fairly.
God visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation. This cannot mean that God punishes children for their father’s sins. “The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son” (Ez. 18:20). “Everyone shall die for his own sin” (Jer. 31:30).
Just what does God mean? The sins of the parents affect their children. Addiction affects the entire family. Abuse affects the entire family.
The sins of the parents are passed on to their children. Parents serve as role models to their children. Children pick up and commit the same sins their parents commit; therefore, God punishes the children with the same punishment as the parents. Parents, we must be so careful to leave our children a godly heritage. We dare not use words we don’t want our children to use. We dare not watch TV program we don’t want our children to watch. We dare not live a life of sin we don’t want our children to live.
Parents, will God visit your iniquity upon your children?
As God revealed himself to Moses, Moses bowed his head and worshiped, v. 8. God is worthy of worship. David praised God saying, “I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised” (2 Sam. 22:4). The 24 elders in Rev. praise God saying, “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created” (Rev. 4:11). God is worthy of your worship and adoration. This morning we have worshiped God, the One who deserves praise. Have you worshiped inwardly?
Moses asked God to go with the Israelites, to forgive their sins, and to take them as his inheritance, v. 9. God went with the Israelites and blessed them during their pilgrimage in the wilderness-God forgave their sins and took them as his inheritance. Do you need God to go with you? Do you need God to forgive you of sin? Do you need God to adopt your spiritually?