Greetings in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (Psalm 103:8)
Every person, no matter where they’re from or what they believe, has wondered about the mysteries of life at some point. Who is God? What is He like? Throughout history, each culture has come up with its own stories to answer these big questions. People have told tales of mighty gods, of heroes, and of the forces that shape the world. But in the Bible, there’s a special story where God speaks for Himself. He tells us directly about His nature and what He values. It’s like a personal letter to all of humanity.
The book of Exodus holds one such remarkable moment. It’s like a treasure in a vast sea of narratives, giving us a clear picture of God’s character. He doesn’t present a difficult puzzle or a set of rules. Instead, He describes His love, His patience, and His kindness. It’s a comforting and heartwarming message.
This introduction to God becomes even more vibrant and alive when we think about Jesus. Through His life and actions, Jesus showed these very qualities of God in a way everyone could see and understand. Today, we’re going to dive deep into this story from Exodus 34:5-7. We’re going on a journey to explore God’s heart and to discover how this age-old story can bring fresh hope, comfort, and guidance in our lives today. So, get ready to see God in a new light and to find insights that can change the way you see the world.
God’s Compassion and Grace
“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15)
Many ancient stories describe gods that were fierce, unpredictable, and often harsh. But when we read the Bible, a very different picture emerges. Instead of tales about fearsome deities, we find God describing Himself with words like “merciful,” “gracious,” and “abounding in love.” Just imagine that! The most powerful being in the universe introduces Himself with words of kindness and patience.
The idea of “compassion” in the original language relates to the tenderness a mother feels for her child. This isn’t a distant or detached kind of care. It’s a love that feels everything deeply, that understands, and that wants the best for the beloved. It’s the kind of love that sees our mistakes and, instead of walking away, draws closer.
The term “grace” hints at a gift, something beautiful given without expecting anything in return. Think about it: The people had just made a huge error with the golden calf, yet God’s response wasn’t just punishment; it was grace. He gave them unearned, undeserved favor.
But this ancient story isn’t just a tale from long ago. It finds its fullest expression in a person: Jesus. Throughout His life on earth, Jesus showed this very same compassion and grace. He healed the sick, sat with outcasts, and stood up for the downtrodden. In every touch, every word, He was the living picture of God’s heart of compassion.
And then came the most profound act of grace. Instead of a throne, it was a cross. Instead of a crown of gold, it was a crown of thorns. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was the ultimate display of God’s grace. It showed just how far God was willing to go to show His love for us. In that act, every mistake, every wrong we’ve ever done, was met with love and grace, offering us a fresh start.
This isn’t just history. It’s a message for each one of us today. No matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done, God’s compassion and grace are reaching out to us. It’s a hand extended, an invitation to experience a love like no other. So as we delve deeper into this topic, let’s keep in mind that this isn’t just about knowing more; it’s about experiencing a love that can change everything for us.
Patience, Love, and Faithfulness
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
In an age of fast-paced lifestyles and quick fixes, the virtues of patience, love, and faithfulness can sometimes feel like relics of a bygone era. Yet, these are not just old-world values; they are timeless markers of God’s heart towards us.
Consider patience. In our day-to-day, patience might mean waiting a few extra minutes without getting frustrated. But God’s patience? It’s on a whole other scale. Think of the countless times Israel turned away, chasing after other gods and forsaking the One who saved them. A lesser god might have given up, but not Yahweh. His patience is a testament to His enduring hope for us, His desire to see us transformed, not destroyed.
Then there’s love, the kind of love that remains constant whether it’s reciprocated or rejected. God’s love isn’t a fleeting emotion; it’s an unchanging commitment. It’s this love that sent prophets to a rebellious nation, that split seas and toppled walls, and ultimately, sent Jesus to a rugged cross. Jesus, with arms outstretched, became the embodiment of this love, showing us its depth and cost.
Faithfulness, often paired with love in scriptures, is God’s unyielding commitment, His promise that come what may, He is there. Through wars, exiles, and even periods of silence, God’s faithfulness to Israel never wavered. Even when they broke their promises, God kept His. Every sunrise is a testament to His faithfulness, a daily reminder that He is true to His word.
Now, let’s bring it home. What do these attributes mean for us today?
Imagine going through life knowing that there’s Someone infinitely patient with you, not marking every mistake but cheering every step towards growth. That’s God’s patience in action in our lives.
Or consider facing life’s harshest storms, knowing you’re not alone. That there’s a love so profound, so committed to you, that it won’t let go, no matter how fierce the winds or high the waves. That’s God’s love – a love we see in Jesus, who braved the storm of our sin and shame, ensuring we’d never face any storm alone.
Lastly, envision a life where every setback, every challenge is met with an unwavering assurance that there’s a purpose, a plan, and a promise being worked out. Because with God’s faithfulness, we can be sure that He’s in it with us, from start to finish.
In conclusion, as we ponder on God’s patience, love, and faithfulness, it’s more than just understanding aspects of His nature; it’s about leaning into them. It’s about letting these truths shape our days, guide our steps, and anchor our souls. So, in our journey ahead, may we not just know about these attributes but deeply experience them, drawing strength and assurance from the unchanging heart of God.
Jesus – The Perfect Embodiment
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15)
As we delve into the intricate narratives of Scripture, we often witness a dance of shadows and realities. The Old Testament, with its rich tapestry of laws, rituals, and prophecies, paints pictures and casts shadows of what’s to come. And then, bursting forth from the pages of the New Testament, comes the substance that gives fullness to these shadows: Jesus.
While the book of Exodus presents a verbal portrait of God’s character, in the Gospels, this portrait takes flesh and bone in Jesus. Every touch, every word, every gesture of Jesus reveals a facet of God’s nature first proclaimed to Moses on that ancient mountaintop.
Reflect on the moments when Jesus displayed deep compassion. Think of Him reaching out to touch the leper, defying societal norms to bring healing and hope. This is the God of Exodus, a compassionate healer, coming alive in human form.
Ponder upon the scenes of Jesus’ unparalleled grace. In a culture that readily cast stones, both literally and figuratively, Jesus stood as a beacon of grace. The adulterous woman, the thieving tax collector, the doubting disciple – each met grace in the eyes of Jesus, echoing the grace proclaimed by God to Moses.
And then there’s Jesus’ patience. Time and again, His disciples missed the mark, misunderstanding parables, arguing about greatness, and even denying Him in His darkest hour. Yet, Jesus, with enduring patience, taught, nurtured, and restored them. Peter, the very disciple who denied Him thrice, was restored by Jesus’ patient love and went on to be a cornerstone of the early church.
But of all the attributes, it’s God’s unfathomable love that shines most brilliantly in Jesus. Love that led Him to dine with the outcasts, to weep at a friend’s tomb, and to ultimately climb a hill called Calvary. There, on a rugged cross, the boundless expanse of God’s love met the finite limitations of humanity. Jesus’ sacrifice became the bridge, making a way for us to truly know and experience God. The Apostle Paul captures this sentiment beautifully: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).
In the final reckoning, when we gaze upon Jesus, we’re not just seeing a historical figure or a religious leader. We’re witnessing the very heartbeat of God, His character in action. And this is not merely for knowledge’s sake. It’s an invitation to relationship. It beckons us closer, urging us to experience this love, grace, patience, and compassion firsthand. Through Jesus, we’re not just learning about God; we’re being invited to know Him, to be transformed by Him, and to rest in His unfailing love.
Conclusion: Encountering the Living God
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Scripture, while painting a vibrant picture of history, serves as a timeless compass pointing us towards an ever-present, ever-loving God. Through the lens of Exodus, we’re invited into a deeper understanding of His compassionate, gracious, patient, loving, and faithful character. Yet, it isn’t enough to merely know these attributes; we are called to embody them, allowing them to shape our lives and interactions.
Central to this understanding is Jesus, the perfect embodiment of these divine attributes. In embracing Jesus, we don’t just admire a portrait; we step into it, letting its colors shape our daily lives. When faced with life’s challenges, the assurance of God’s steadfast compassion can be our anchor. When burdened by past errors, the liberating power of His grace offers a fresh start.
Let’s consider a practical application. Imagine being in a challenging situation at work or with a neighbor, where misunderstandings have built walls. Instead of responding in kind or avoiding the situation, what if we paused and remembered God’s patience with us? Inspired by this divine patience, we could choose to approach the individual, listen to their perspective, and work towards reconciliation. Such actions, inspired by God’s attributes, don’t just resolve conflicts; they bear witness to a higher way of living, rooted in divine love.
By doing so, our lives become more than individual spiritual journeys. They turn into pathways that invite others to encounter God’s transformative love. Every act of kindness, forgiveness, and patience becomes a testament to the heart of God.
Jesus didn’t just preach about God’s kingdom; He actively demonstrated it, touching lives with acts that showcased God’s heart. We’re invited to do the same. As we go about our daily routines, may we aim to reflect Christ, being His hands and feet in our communities.
In the ever-changing tapestry of life, may God’s unchanging character guide our actions and choices. As we live out these divine attributes, may those around us see not just us, but the heart of God. Through our transformed lives, may the world be drawn, step by step, closer to the Living God. Amen.
“Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)