Friday, February 8, 2019
Exodus 34:1 – 7 1The LORD said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. 3No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain.” 4So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the LORD had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. 5Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. 6And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”
I am in awe of the nature of God expressed in this passage of Scripture. The nation of Israel has rebelled against God. While Moses was receiving the law of God on the mountain, the people were making a golden calf to replace God as their focus of worship.
Moses, in his anger at discovering their sin, smashed the tablets of stone that had been personally engraved by the finger of God. His anger had caused him to disrespect and dishonor what God had given him. God punished the people who had sinned, and then He invited Moses back onto the mountain to replace the engraved stones.
When Moses received the first tablets they had been carved by God himself. This time Moses had to carve the tablets. With each strike of the hammer on the chisel Moses must have felt the guilt of knowing that he had allowed his anger to destroy something God had given him. He would have to carry those tablets to God with the shame of knowing that they were not God’s original design. No matter how closely he tried to duplicate the originals, they would still be man-made and not God-made. Imagine the fear and shame Moses must have been feeling as he approached the Presence of God on the mountain.
When Moses arrived, the LORD came down in the cloud and stood with Him. Then he passed in front of Moses and spoke. He did not destroy Moses’ spirit with words of condemnation and shame. He did not speak in anger. God did not strike Moses down. Instead, He declared His nature. It is a declaration of hope for us all.
He said, “I Am the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”
What incredible words of hope for all of us who have sinned. Spend a moment and review each statement and bask in the wonder of God’s forgiveness.
God is compassionate
God is gracious
God is slow to anger
God is abounding in love
God is abounding in faithfulness
God has sufficient love for everyone
God forgives wickedness, rebellion, and sin
The nature of God in this story challenges me. How do I respond when someone has hurt me with wickedness, rebellion, or sin? Maybe this illustration will help us apply God’s nature to our own choices.
A small boy at a summer camp received a large package of cookies in the mail from his mother. He ate a few, then placed the remainder under his bed. The next day, after lunch, he went to his tent to get a cookie. The box was gone.
That afternoon a camp counselor, who had been told of the theft, saw another boy sitting behind a tree eating the stolen cookies. He said to himself, “That young man must be taught not to steal.”
He returned to the group and sought out the boy whose cookies had been stolen. He said, “Billy, I know who stole your cookies. Will you help me teach him a lesson?” The puzzled boy replied, “Well, yes—but aren’t you going to punish him?”
The counselor explained, “No, that would only make him resent and hate you. No, I want you to call your mother and ask her to send you another box of cookies.”
The boy did as the counselor asked and a few days later received another box of cookies in the mail.
The counselor said, “Now, the boy who stole your cookies is down by the lake. Go down there and share your cookies with him.”
The boy protested, “But he’s the thief.”
“I know. But try it—see what happens.”
Half an hour later the camp counselor saw the two come up the hill, arm and arm. The boy who had stolen the cookies was earnestly trying to get the other to accept his jackknife in payment for the stolen cookies, and the victim was just as earnestly refusing the gift from his new friend, saying that a few old cookies weren’t that important anyway.
The Apostle Paul said it this way in Ephesians 4 – Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
As you have been forgiven by God, go and forgive others.