Exodus 34:1-35:9; Matthew 27:15-31; Psalm 33:12-22; Proverbs 9:1-6
Esther wrote yesterday about sometimes wishing that God would give a tangible sign of his presence, like a golden calf or handwriting on the wall or a pillar of fire. I totally resonate with that desire and I thought about it during today's reading. Yesterday, Moses himself asked for reassurance of God's presence in his life (see Ex. 33:12-18), and today we see God reveal himself to Moses in response to this request. He gives Moses this experience to be a marker, a defining surety of his continued nearness and activity.
And what a self-revelation it is! I love this passage: "The Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, 'The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin'" (Ex. 34:5-7, emphasis mine). In addition to his self-description (which I'll come back to), God descends to Moses' place, aligns himself with - not opposite - Moses, and shows himself to Moses in the greatest measure a living being could experience. I mean, wow! What a response to Moses' request. God comes to be with man. Emmanuel, God with us, here in the Old Testament.
And then - his self-description! I wrote a bio for myself yesterday, for a speaking gig in April, and I'm aware of how I stuck in all the "important" stuff - my education, my experience, our church ministry, our family. Well, God did the same thing here in his bio: he identified himself, as and by himself. He is compassionate; gracious; slow to anger (thank you, Lord, for you know how much patience we need); abounding in love and faithfulness (extravagant, over-flowing, excessive); forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin (yep, yes, yup). This is the important stuff. This is what God wants his people to know about him. These are the qualities that define who God is.
Our New Testament reading, too, gives us a glimpse of who this God is. But here, it's Jesus in the mockery of his trial and judgment. While the Roman soldiers mean every action as a farce, they yet reveal who Jesus really is: a king, a ruler, worthy of homage (Mt. 27: 27-31). The bitterness and sting and agony cannot hide the truth.
I am so grateful that I serve this kind of God. He is not capricious or unpredictable. He is not vindictive or resentful. He is a God who knows and sees me (remember Hagar?), who deals gently with me, who loves and loves and loves, and who forgives beyond all ability to measure. He came to earth, aligning himself with humanity (with me, with all of us!), and he is yet the king, worthy of my allegiance. Praise God for who he is!
- Sarah Marsh
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