Who Is This God?

November 22-26


The God Who Renews because He is Merciful

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness – Exodus 34:6 (ESV)

Fred Craddock preached in Blue Ridge, Georgia one Sunday while the pastor was away. He preached on the prodigal son. After the service, a man said, “I really didn’t care much for that frankly.” He asked the many why and the man said he just didn’t like that story because it was morally irresponsible. Craddock said, “What do you mean by that?” “Forgiving the boy,” the man replied. Craddock asked, “Well, what would you have done?” “I think when he came home he should have been arrested.” answered the man.

Craddock writes, “This fellow was serious. He’s an attorney, I thought. I thought he was going to tell me a joke. But he was really serious. He belonged to this unofficial organization nationwide, never has any meetings and doesn’t have a name, but it’s a very strong network that I call “quality control people.” They’re moral police. Mandatory sentences and no parole, mind you, and executions.” Craddock then asked, “What would you have given the prodigal?” He said, “Six years.” (Fred Craddock, Craddock Stories, Chalice Press, 2001, 51)

Israel had broken all 10 of the commandments before Moses could get back down the mountain with the tablets. In Exodus 34 the children of Israel deserved judgment for their sin and rebellion against God. Instead, God shows them mercy and renews His covenant with them. Moses comes with 2 new tablets for God to rewrite His commands. Mercy is reflected by granting forgiveness to a guilty person and is reflected in kind acts proceeding from inward compassion to relieve sufferers of misery, even those who suffer from their own sins. It was only because of God’s mercy that they were able to renew the covenant.


The more we understand the judgment we deserve for sinning against God the more grateful we are for His mercy. Some say mercy is not getting the punishment you deserve. In what ways has God not given you the punishment you deserve?


Thank God for the mercy He has shown you by inviting you into a relationship with Him.


The God Who Renews because He is Gracious

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, – Exodus 34:6 (ESV)

George Stansberry to a group of Bible college students: “If you leave this service today and see a needy person on the street and give him a dollar, that is unmerited favor. He did nothing to deserve it. But if you leave here and go to your car and find a man breaking into your car to steal your radio, and you give him a dollar, that is grace, because that is the opposite of what he deserves.”

When God renewed His covenant with Israel at Mt. Sinai, He was giving them the opposite of what they deserved. God making a covenant with them was in fact a gift that they did not deserve. Mackay adds that grace, “recalls a mother’s love for her child, with a deep understanding of its weakness and need, keeping looking after it whatever its behaviour or thanklessness. This is not a response to human merit, but a display of divine sympathy which shows favour when punishment might well have been expected.”


When God forgave you of your sin, He didn’t just free you from the punishment of your sin. God also gave you the blessings of being in a covenant relationship with Him. In what ways has God given you blessings instead of punishment? 


Micah 7:18 says God delights in mercy and there is no one like Him. Praise God for His incomparable and lavish gifts of grace and mercy.


The God Who Renews because He is Slow to Anger

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, – Exodus 34:6 (ESV)

For four hours he held the cylinder, waiting for rescue or immediate death. After digging up what appeared to be an unexploded WWI bomb, David Page held on to it, afraid that letting go would detonate the device. While holding the bomb, the terrified 40-year-old from Norfolk, England, called an emergency operator on his mobile phone. He even used the call to issue his last words for his family. “The woman police operator kept saying it would be okay,” said Page, “but I kept saying to her, ‘You’re not the one holding the bomb.’” First responders rushed to the work-yard in eastern England, and army bomb disposal experts finally arrived.

The phrase “slow to anger” in Exodus 34:6 is literally “long fused.” It’s like a bomb that doesn’t explode quickly once it’s been ignited. Exodus 34:6 is saying God was not quick to act in judgment when we Israel sinned against Him. God’s patience allowed them an opportunity to repent. The LORD was reluctant to act against His creation, even when it was in rebellion against Him.


When was the last time you had a “short fuse” and exploded in anger? When is the last time you were glad that God was patient with you and gave you an opportunity to get things right before allowing you to experience the full consequences of your actions? If you have sinned and not yet experienced serious consequences, it behooves you (1) to not be stubbornly, deceptively naive and think you have gotten away with your sin, but (2) agree with Him that you have sinned against Him and appeal to Him to have mercy on you, repent and turn (return) to God.


Thank God for His patience in your life. Thank Him for the times He has allowed you to return to Him in humility and repentance.


The God Who Renews because He is Abounding in Love

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, – Exodus 34:6

One day C. H. Spurgeon was walking through the English countryside with a friend. As they strolled along, the evangelist noticed a barn with a weather vane on its roof. At the top of the vane were these words: GOD IS LOVE. Spurgeon remarked to his companion that he thought this was a rather inappropriate place for such a message. “Weather vanes are changeable,” he said, “but God’s love is constant.” “I don’t agree with you about those words, Charles,” replied his friend. “You misunderstood the meaning. That sign is indicating a truth: Regardless of which way the wind blows, God is love.” (Source unknown)

“Steadfast love” mentioned in Exodus 34:6 is the idea of faithful love in action and often in the OT refers to God’s lovingkindness expressed in His covenant relationship with Israel. God’s “steadfast love” denotes persistent and unconditional tenderness, kindness, and mercy, a relationship in which He seeks after man with love and mercy. Exodus doesn’t just say God has steadfast love but also adds that God is “abounding in steadfast love.” God’s love for Israel overflowed toward them and was a major factor in God renewing His covenant with them.


Who in your life has best exemplified “steadfast love”? Even our best efforts don’t compare to God’s abounding steadfast love. What are some of the times in your past when God’s love remained faithful to you even when you were unfaithful?


Praise God for His extravagant love for you. Thank God for His unconditional and faithful love for you.


The God Who Renews because He Forgives All Kinds of Sin

keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, – Exodus 34:8 (ESV)

A Sunday School teacher had just concluded her lesson and wanted to make sure she had made her point. She said, “Can anyone tell me what you must do before you can obtain forgiveness of sin?” There was a short pause and then, from the back of the room, a small boy spoke up. “Sin,” he said.

Exodus 34:8 uses three different words to describe the sin of Israel; iniquity, transgressions, and sin. Iniquity is twisting God’s law or perversion. Transgression is violating God’s laws. And sin is falling short or missing the mark. The text was careful to cover all kinds of sin. They clearly met the necessary prerequisite for forgiveness. Forgiveness means to lift, to carry, to take away, the picture of lifting a burden (aka “weight of sin”) off of an individual. It’s also in the present tense which means God is continually forgiving all kinds of sin.


Our covenant with God is because Jesus’ death on the cross covered all of our sin for all eternity. Jesus died for your past sins, your present sins, and your future sins. Which of the three word pictures for sin in Exodus 34:8 can you most identify with? The first step of receiving God’s forgiveness, is in fact, confessing your sin. The next step is placing your faith in Jesus’ sacrificial death in your place. If you haven’t done this, do it today.


Thank God for the thoroughness of His forgiveness. Thank God for the security of your relationship with Him based on Christ’s finished work on the cross.