Lent Devotional: Exodus 33:18-34:8

by Jonathan Haefs

Exodus 33:18-34:8 (click here)
Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.”

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, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 33:18-19 and 34:5-7)

We see the glory of God when we see who he is! In answer to Moses’ request, God reveals the very core of his nature. He is a God of grace, he abounds in love and in faithfulness. He is the covenant keeping God! Yet, he is also holy. He doesn’t just pass over sin and pretend that it doesn’t exist. He doesn’t sweep things under the rug. No. He righteously deals with unrighteousness!

How can these things fit together? How can God be both gracious and yet judge sin?

The people of Israel would learn over and over again that God would accomplish this miracle by providing graciously a substitute to take the penalty for their sin. He did so, ultimately, through the cross of Christ. In the cross we see God’s righteous judgment poured out upon sin…AND…we see God graciously forgiving sinners, we see his love abounding towards us!

This is freely given! God will be gracious to whom he will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom he will show mercy. This grace cannot be earned…God must give it! And, he loves to shock the world by choosing to be merciful and gracious to those we see as least deserving…because this highlights the truth grace is never deserved or earned!

Who do we see as least deserving of grace? A former friend? An enemy? A relative? A nation? ISIS? A people group? Who do we see as least deserving of grace? If our answer to that question is not “everyone…” then we are misunderstanding grace altogether. No one deserves grace.

*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.