WORDS OF VICTORY
A Glimpse into the Character of God
February 28, 2015
From the Pastor's Keyboard:
When you think of God, what thoughts do you think? Often times I hear that the God of the Old Testament is a very different God from the New Testament. The God of the Old Testament is angry, blood thirsty, has repressive laws and doesn't have compassion on any while the God of the New Testament is a God of love. Now, is this an unfair evaluation of the character of God? A look into Exodus 34 verses 6 and 7 will show this assumption is far different than what we hear from the detractors of the word of God. While this text doesn't answer every single objection, it must be the starting place if we are to have a right understanding of the person, character, and nature of God.
Before we consider this text, it would serve us well to look at what has just happened in the previous chapters. Israel has committed the sin of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32), Aaron consenting thereto. Moses has interceded for the people that God might not destroy them. All of this happens in the camp, prior to Moses removing the Tabernacle outside the camp (33:7). So first we see that Moses first pleads for the people to be spared. Next, he pleads for God Himself to lead them, otherwise he, that is Moses, did not want to lead the people into the Promised Land. God graciously said he would do the second request for Moses since he had found grace in his sight. Moses third and final request was not for the people directly, but for Moses himself. He'd already found grace in God's sight (33:17). Now he wanted to see God's glory. God promised that his goodness would pass before Moses, He would proclaim His name, and be gracious to whom He would. Only Moses would not be allowed to see the face of God, only His back parts and he saw all these from the cleft of the rock. So Moses found grace in God’s sight, asked to see His glory and God replied with goodness. This does not sound like a moral monster and some have termed Him.
In Exodus 34 we find Moses ascending the mountain, taking two tables of stone for God to rewrite the Ten Commandments. Next we see God coming to meet with Moses as He promised. Exodus 34:5
gives us the details of how God did this: First of all, He descended in the cloud
. This tells us He came down from where He was to meet specially with Moses. Then we understand God is omnipresent, we know there are times and places where He specially meets with His people and His presence is specially manifested. This is one of those times. Second of all, He stood with Moses there
. He was side by side with Moses! The presence of God Himself was enjoyed by Moses. Certainly he'd found grace in God's sight. Third, He proclaimed the name of the LORD
as He had promised in 33:19. Now don’t miss this: how does God show His glory? God shows His glory by declaring His name.
Someone says “But wait a minute. He's already done that when He called Moses in Exodus 3:13-15
and God revealed more of Himself to Moses then he had done to Abraham Isaac or Jacob.” This is true to some degree. Revelation is progressive (this means that God teaches or reveals more as we go along and are able to receive it). But there in the back side of the desert, God revealed a name, an appellation, an identity. Now that Moses has gotten older and has seen God's moving and God's grace and forgiveness, he wants more of God, and he wants His glory.
So what did God do when he declared his name? He gave more than something to call
him. Rather, He has revealed to us His character
; in other words He has revealed who He is (Proverbs 22:1
). May I say God has a good name
! A man’s good name is important. We know this from our dealings with people. Bring up certain names (from history, for example) and they evoke certain feelings. God is showing us what we are to think of Him when we hear His name
What God Proclaimed to Moses:
- The LORD - Jehovah. I am that I am. The Self-Existent One who has no beginning, no end, and who simply IS. God Himself is life. May I say that the Lord Jesus Christ said He was the Life (John 14:6)? He certainly could claim to be since He was Jehovah God manifest in a body of flesh!
- The LORD GOD - Jehovah God El. A doubling of the name. God emphasizes the name again, coupled with God – The Self-Existent, The Self-Existent God. He is self-existent, the all-powerful the Giver of life and the Judge of all.
- Merciful and gracious - these are coupled together, yet looking at them individually will help see God's character further. Yet they go hand in hand as one withhold what is due while the other gives what is not deserved!
These are the first words out of the mouth of God to Moses regarding his name, regarding his character. God be declared his name to be merciful, full of mercy. The word merciful here denotes, kindness and compassion. This means that God is a God who is understanding of those people who is kind and full of compassion when he thinks of them. He is full of pity as a father over his children, Psalm 103 13 and 14, and remembers what we are made off - dust. The same psalm repeats the truth found here: the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy Psalm 103 8. Now, may I ask, does this sound like a different God from the One in the New Testament? Surely not! The God whose Name is merciful and gracious is the same One who provided that mercy and grace on the Cross of Calvary. Though there are many who accuse the God of the Old Testament unjustly, I know Him personally through Christ and can testify that His Name certainly is merciful and gracious.
Pastor John Nichols