Exodus 34 - God's Character
During this fast season we are exploring - through what we read in a chapter a day of the Bible - who God is and what He is like.
1. Pray and read - preferably together
2. Pray and share
In this chapter we again see Moses encountering God. Now the Israelites have left Egypt for the Promised Land.
But they have rebelled several times already. The context is important.
In Exodus 19 God set boundaries to be clear about the need for consecration/holiness but He made an amazing invitation to the people. If they would obey Him He would make them a holy nation. He invited the people to be kings and priests. Then in Exodus 20 we read He spoke to them the essence of what He is like and what He requires (the 10 commandments) but their response was to withdraw - instead, they wanted God to speak through Moses not directly!
God knows everything from the end but in His infinite wisdom He enables us to make choices. After all He made us in His image and that is one of His characteristics, so it makes sense that we should have free choices. God must have been really disappointed with the result, though. The people would rather have an intermediary, Moses, than direct access to the Living God.
So He gives them more detailed laws through Moses. While Moses is on the mountain, however, the people rebel and worship the golden calf (Exodus 32).
Ex 33 gives us a wonderful picture of enjoying God’s presence, the Tent of Meeting. It symbolises God’s presence but is more than a symbol. Moses really encounters God there. Now, because of Jesus, the Way to the Father, we have access through the Spirit (Eph 2:18) - we do not have to go to a temple because we, the people of God are the true Temple (1 Pet 2:4-5 and 1 Cor 6:19-20).
Moses is hungry for more of God. He wants to see God’s face and the Lord gently but firmly explains “No one can see My face and live.” So He makes it possible for Moses to experience His presence on the mountain, as we read in chapter 34.
What do we see? God reveals Himself in verses 6 and 7. This is God Himself explaining what He is like.
God is always making a new start available to us. That shows His mercy. He delays judgment because He wants everyone to be saved (2 Peter 3:8-10). Even the Israelites in the desert experienced that.
He is slow to anger, even when we give Him cause!
God’s covenant love extends indefinitely (“to the thousandth generation” is a Hebrew way of saying “forever”). And in HIs love there is even a limit to the judgment that people bring on themselves, when they refuse to repent and obey Him. The statement “to the third and fourth generation” is a way of saying the immediate family will be affected, maybe by repeating the same sinful behaviour, but there is a way out by repentance and it will not go on forever.
Even in the Old Testament God is revealed as merciful, loving, faithful and forgiving. In Christ we see that character displayed and, by the power of the Spirit.
3. Pray and act
When we draw close to Him we can display something of His character .... to all we meet today.