READING: Exodus 34-35, Matthew 22:23-46
“Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God.”
God spoke, and the world came into existence. He judged Adam and Eve, and they left the Garden of Eden on their way to death. The God who created the world could have chosen to separate Himself from His creation, letting it simply destroy itself through sin and rebellion. That’s not the God of the Bible, however. Even as He cast the first human beings from the garden, He had already put in place a plan that would lead to someone from the woman crushing the head of the garden serpent.
That One would come through a people from Abraham that God called His own. They would be stubborn, rebellious, and forgetful, but their God was unique. Even when they rejected Him by worshipping a golden calf, God gave them His law a second time and reminded their leader of His nature: “Yahweh–Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin. But He will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation” (Exo. 34:6-7).
The words and phrases just pile up, so much so that it’s hard to miss who this God is. He is a compassionate God who genuinely cares about people. He is gracious, offering to His people what they do not deserve. He is patiently loving, being slow to anger while committed to long-term fidelity toward His followers; that is, He keeps His covenant with them. He loves indefinitely the generations who follow Him, and He forgives all sorts of sin. Indeed, He forgives because that’s simply part of His nature. That is not to say, though, that He ignores sin. He judges the guilty who do not follow Him, and the consequences of that unforsaken sin affect generation after generation. When Moses heard these words from God, he did the appropriate thing: “Moses immediately bowed down to the ground and worshiped” (Exo. 34:8). Nothing less than that response is right when one encounters the true and living God.
As I read these texts, I can only wonder why I so seldom bow before God and worship. I sing songs that echo those words, but I do so while standing among the crowds – not while lying on my face before my Creator. I may not wish to admit it, but I think I probably too seldom consider who God is when I encounter Him in worship. Too often, I’m worshiping a God whose compassion I take for granted and whose judgment I disregard. That’s not even real worship.
- Meditate on the text of Exodus 34:6-7, considering deeply the characteristics of God.
- Make deliberate choices today that reflect who God really is.
PRAYER: “God, You are such a magnificent, holy, loving, forgiving, faithful God. I can only praise You.”
TOMORROW'S READING: Exodus 36-38, Matthew 23:1-22