The God of the Exodus
Tension: On what basis can Moses plea with God for him to accompany Israel?
Resolution: Only on God’s holy and loving person and nature which he graciously gives in his covenant.
Exegetical Idea: Moses pleas with God for him to accompany Israel only on God’s holy and loving person and nature which he graciously gives in his covenant.
Theological Idea: God is with us purely based on the Holy-Love he showed in the gospel and he graciously gives in the covenant.
Homiletical Idea: In Christ’s Holy-Love, God gives himself to me in the covenant.
Background: Emphasize “who is the true God?”
What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.
Moses’ Intercession-Tension (33:12-23)
(12-13): “How can you tell me that I should go up if you don’t go with me and I don’t know who is going with me.” God how can you say you know me and have shown me favor and yet not show me your ways?
(15-16): If God has chosen this people for himself, if they are truly distinct from every other people on the face of the earth (which is what it seems to mean to be known by name), then God’s presence must go with them.
How can God answer yes to both these questions if God has already told Moses, “I won’t go with you, I will punish the evildoer, and I will come in terror.” How can God’s presence both be with them and against them? At this then there is the tension: how can God go up with them in his presence if he has retained his promise to judge their sins (33:1-3)? How can God preserve them from death and yet dwell in their midst? Moses feels that there is just something about God that he does not understand.
Please show me your glory: I want to have an experience of how this can be!
Yhwh’s response is as cryptic as he has been throughout the passage. On the one hand, God promises to Moses “My goodness will pass before you,” he says, “I will proclaim before you, ‘the LORD,” “I will be gracious and I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” (cf. Rom 9:13). Here Yhwh communicates to Moses his essentially gracious nature: he is good, he will reveal his name, he will be graicous and merciful.
Yet, on the other hand, beside the promise are threats: “But you cannot see my face, for man shall not see my face and live.” Further, God deliberately hides away his glory from Moses, it is veiled from him (22-23). He also said, I will have mercy on whoever I have mercy. I do whatever I want. I am totally free. Here we see then the continuing dual nature of God before Moses - presence but distance. Mercy but punishment. Promise but threats. Life but death.
God’s Command Terror and Presence: God promises to show himself to Moses (34:1-2) and yet, he threatens anyone who will come with him (34:3-4).
God’s Revelation: Holy & Love (34:5-9)
God comes down. He comes to Moses. He comes down physically (5).
God’s Covenant Love: “the LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for htousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” (34:6-7) This famous description of God is frequently echoed in Scripture (Jon 4:2-3; Num 14:18, 2 Chr 30:9, Neh 9:17; Ps 18:4, 57:10, 86:15, 103:8, 111:4, 112:4, 116:5, 145:8; Joel 2:13; Deut 5:9-10; Jer 32:18; Dan 9:4; 1 Kings 8:23).
God’s Covenant Holiness: Yet, we see that at the same time God declares his covenant love he also declares his covenant holiness, “but who will by no means clear hte guilty, visiting the iniquity of hte fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.” This is likewise built into God’s instructions around the 10 commandments (Ex 23:21). Yet, this is likewise a very influetial description of GOd (Jer 32:18; Dan 9:4-10; Josh 24:19; Job 10:14; Nah 1:3; Deut 5:9).
God is both holy and love. This is counter-cultural.
Israel needed a love that was totally holy - having no limits, no end.
Israel needed a holiness that was loving - redemptive and saving.
If this is the God Israel needed, then it is the God we need as well. (vs 5 - the Preincarnate Christ)
This God is exactly the God who we find on the cross. In the cross we find a holiness which cannot abide with sin, and we find a love that saves from sin. (Rom 3:21-26) On the one hand, God is so holy he cannot abide by sin. On the other, God is so loving, he can abide even with sinners. This is the God about whom we find the beloved verse John 3:16. And this is the God who we find in the moment of CHrist’s derilection, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me.”
Because God is holy, he demands a holy sacrifice. Because Christ is holy, he can be that holy sacrifice. Because God is love, he gives his Son for us. Because Christ is love, he gives himself for us.
If God was only holy and not loving, then he could not save. If God was only love and not saving, he would not save. But because God is both a holy love and a loving holiness, he is both able and willing to save.
Yet, in this, they must recognize that God is totally free, nothing can compel him to show mercy if he does not want to. He does exactly what he wants, and nothing can change that. The reason that God saves is because God wants to save. Nothing in us has earned it, deserved it, or is entitled to it, it is purely by God’s grace.
If the most important thing about us is what we think of when we think of God, and no religion has ever risen above its idea of God, then the most important thing about us is if we understand this and how we react to it.
Moses’ Plea: Moses’ only hope is to throw himself upon the freedom of this loving God (34:8-9). What else can we do?
God’s covenant (10-28): God gives Moses a tangible physical promise: the covenant. That God has not turned towards them in anger, but in favor. God re-made the covenant with them.
Loyalty (?): This new covenant that God made with them was basically the same, except that God emphasized loyalty a lot more.
It is the same with us: the covenant we have with God is a tangible representation of God’s promise towards us.
In baptism God has given us the promise that we are his beloved children.
In the Lord’s Supper, God gives us the promise he will sustain and be with us.