John T. Willis

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

God's Self-Identity

The third and final chapter in Exodus 32-34, namely, Exodus 34, is one of the great "pinnacles" of the Book of Exodus and indeed the entire Old Testament and the Bible. This chapter falls into three parts.

1. Yahweh's reveals his own identity. 34:1-9.
a. Yahweh tells Moses to take two tablets of stone, on which Yahweh himself will write the words that were on the former tablets which Moses had broken in pieces when he descended on Mount Sinai earlier, as recorded in Exodus 32:19-20. 34:1-4.
b. Then Yahweh proclaims the name "Yahweh." Then Yahweh reveals his own self-identity:
"The Lord, the Lord [Yahweh, Yahweh],
a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation,
forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,
yet by no means clearing the guilty,
but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children
and upon children's children
to the third and fourth generation."
Moses then worships before Yahweh, and beseeches Yahweh to go with his people even though his people is a stiffnecked people, and to pardon their iniquity and sin, and take them to the land of Canaan. 34:5-9.
*Here are some important thoughts about Yahweh's self-identity.
i. God is a God of mercy and grace and steadfast love, and a God of anger and punishment. The Bible consistently present God as a God of love and anger--New Testament as well as Old Testament. Read carefully Romans 2:1-11; Hebrews 10:11-31. When human beings become hardened in heart, God "gives them up." Romans 1:24-32.
ii. This "song" declaring God's self-identity PERVADES throughout scripture. Note for example Numbers 14:17-19; Nehemiah 9:16-17; Psalms 86:5, 15; 103:8-9; 145:8-9; Joel 2:12-14; Jonah 4:1-2; and very often.
iii. The Bible teaches throughout that God is gracious and merciful and full of steadfast love and faithfulness. See for example, Psalms 32; 51; 130; Isaiah
1:10-20; Hoses 6:4-6; Micah 7:18-20; and very often.
iv. The Old Testament, like the New Testament, teaches consistently that God forgives human beings for sin. See for example, 2 Samuel 12:13; Psalms 32; 51; 130; Jeremiah 32:16-44; Ezekiel 36:16-38; Amos 7:1-6; 9:1-6; and very often.

2. Yahweh makes [actually "renews"] his covenant with the Israelites. Exodus
34:10-28. Yahweh declares that he will bring the Israelites into the land of Canaan, and then commands them to keep his commandments. Here is a summary of major commandments which we have already dealt with in the Ten Commandments and the Book of the Covenant in previous blogs. Note especially that Yahweh declares that he is a "Jealous" God--see especially verse 14. Like a husband expects his wife to be faithful to him alone, Yahweh expects his people to be faithful to him alone.

3. When Moses returns back down from Mount Sinai, his face is shining, and the Israelites are afraid of him. So Moses puts a veil on his face when he comes before the people, but when he speaks to Yahweh privately he takes the veil off. Exodus 34:29-35.

This is an amazing chapter in the Book of Exodus. It contains many very important truths. How does this chapter strike you? What are your thoughts? Share your ideas with your friends and family and church and community. Let me hear from you.

John Willis


  • It's interesting to me that the O.T. frequently quotes the part about God being slow to anger and quick to forgive, but rarely repeats the part about God punishing sin. It seems obvious to me where the emphasis should be placed.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

    By Blogger Tim Archer, at 8:00 PM  

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