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Jul 23 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

July 22, 2018 – Exodus Chapter 34

How God Makes Himself Known

Yahweh! Yahweh!
The God of compassion and mercy!
Slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected—
even children in the third and fourth generations. 
Exodus 34:6-7

Intro: Last week Moses asked God for the ultimate experience

Show me your glory – Let me look at you; see you as you are
– he knew the truest way to know someone was to experience that person
• Moses’ request was denied
• nevertheless, God gave Moses all he had to give at that time
◦ and all that Moses was able to take without being obliterated

Everett Fox, “. . . it is almost as if the text is saying ‘This is all that can be known, intimately, of this God, and this is all one needs to know”

– all our tools for exploring the universe are in our bodies
• if something exists that we cannot see, touch, deduce or imagine,
◦ we will not be able to discover it through any technology we invent
• God is here in our universe, but in a dimension beyond it

This was Job’s frustration. He could see all the marvelous things that God did in the world, but
when he comes near, I cannot see him.
When he moves by, I do not see him go (Job 9:11)
Job’s friend, Zophar, asked him “What did you expect?”
Can you solve the mysteries of God?
Can you discover everything about the Almighty?
(Job 11:7)

As Paul wrote to Timothy, No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will (1 Tim. 6:16). This is because our human senses are not equipped to see into God’s dimension. They were made for life in our four-dimensional universe.

The only way we can ever know God, is if he reveals himself to us
– this knowing comes with a condition: I must experience what God is willing to reveal
• if I treat what God reveals as mere information, I will not know him
• I can have an encyclopedic knowledge of God yet not know God himself

Arthur Vogel, “To be able to reduce the Christian option to choice between ideas is to have totally lost the essence of Christianity. . . . Knowledge and [informed thinking] play an essential role in the Christian religion, but they do so in the service of something that is more than they. If the ‘more’ is lost, all is lost, and the first step has yet to be taken.”

– we come to know God by our experience of him as he reveals himself to us
• this means, whatever he reveals is within the realm of our experience

Vogel, again [because he says it so well], “Many people feel the absence of God in their lives, which means that his presence should be recognized by feeling too.”

◦ by feeling Vogel did not mean emotion, but perception
◦ like feeling loved or a gust of wind
• whatever we experience, we own — it is our truth, our reality
◦ and nothing else is more personal or more convincing

When Jesus’ critics could not disprove the fact that Jesus healed a blind man, they announced that he was a sinner because he performed the healing on a Sabbath day. “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!” (Jn. 9:25)

◦ he was not ready to tackle the theological challenge, but he was certain of his experience

4-6 Once again Moses climbed Mount Sinai and God came down

We have primed for this dramatic moment
– God told Moses that he would see something (Ex. 33:22-23)
• but the way the event unfolds is sort of strange
• all we are told is that Moses heard something 
◦ I assume that what he heard was more important than his visual experience
– Moses first heard God announcing his own name
• this is significant, because a person was considered inseparable from his or her name

Walther Eichrodt, “. . . this proclamation of the divine Name was treasured as an act whereby God himself came forth from his secret place and offered himself in fellowship . . .”

• God called out his name twice – I do not know why
◦ but remember, in their first encounter God spoke Moses’ name twice
◦ perhaps the double announcement stresses the momentous nature of this event

6-7 What God reveals about himself

I can tell people that I am a kind person – is it true?
– the only way to find out is to observe how I treat others
• it is the way I live that reveals what and who I am
– God is not describing to Moses his feelings for his people
• he describes what he is to them, does for them and how he will treat them

Compassion: a nurturing love and concern
– this same Hebrew word can refer to the devotion of a mother

Can a mother forget her nursing child?
Can she feel not love [compassion] for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible,
I would not forget you!
(Isa. 49:15)

Mercy: or gracious
– the Hebrew word refers to undeserved kindness
– Yahweh is generous with everyone

For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust (Mt. 5:45)

Slow to anger:
– when a grandchild hurts a sibling, I sometimes have to restrain my anger
• I have to cool down so I can consider their behavior rationally and in perspective
• but that is not what is meant here
– God does not postpone taking action so he can change
• but to give us space to come to our senses
◦ to see how wrong we’ve been and to change
◦ he waits to see us change, because his preference is to not punish us

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some men think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent (2 Pet. 3:9)

Filled with unfailing love: the Hebrew word translated “filled” refers to quantity
– it is volume, numerous, largeness
unfailing love is hesed — a word that is impossible to translate with one English word
• goodness, mercifullness, loving kindness, benevolence

Faithfulness: what is God saying about himself?
– this word is translated “truth” in the King James Verson
• but not in an abstract philosophical sense
• rather it means “true,” like a “true friend” – someone you know is reliable
– this does not mean God prevents hardship and heartache from entering our lives
• but that he will always be there, with us (cf. Isa. 41:10)
• and, like his unfailing love, God’s faithfulness is infinite and eternal

I lavish unfailing love: unfailing love, again is hesed
– here God says he lavishes it – literally, keep, maintain, guard
• Yahweh is the Keeper of kindness
• and this extends to a thousand generations
◦ “thousand” is not an exact figure, but suggests a huge number

I forgivethis goes to the heart of Israel’s recent failing
– iniquity, rebellion, and sin indicate the ways we can go wrong (Ps. 51:2-3)
• if we had only one or two chances (or a dozen or a hundred) chances to get it right,
◦ we would be doomed

LORD, if you kept a record of our sins,
who, O Lord, could ever survive?
But you offer forgiveness,
that we might learn to fear you. 
(Ps. 130:3-4)

But I do not excuse the guilty:
• forgiveness is always available
• but families that do not go to God to receive forgiveness,
◦ but persist in their rebellion will continue to carry their guilt

There is a lot of Facebook nonsense that I ignore
– whenever a post says, “Please send to all your contacts”
• or “If you agree with this, then forward it to others”
• I make a point to delete every one of these
◦ I can spare others by breaking the chain
– we cannot control what has come down to us from previous generations,
• but we can prevent it from going any further
• I want to do this for my children, my grandchildren, and for you
◦ I carry a lot of baggage from my religious past
◦ it is my resolve to not let you be burdened with it

8-28 Moses is not through yet

Forgiveness was the opening he hoped to find
– he threw himself to the ground, worshiped God, and then began negotiating
• he still wanted to hear God say that we would live among his people on their journey
• so he admits that Israel is stubborn and rebellious, but appeals to God’s forgiveness
– I find God’s response interesting – his answer:

Listen, I am making a covenant with you

• this is the same answer he gave to Abraham when he asked for a guarantee (Gen. 5:8-21)
• so what follows is a reiteration of covenant conditions God gave earlier
◦ is as if God and Israel were exchanging vows
◦ which means God is reclaiming them as his own special possession (v. 9)

When Moses came down Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the LORD. So when Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses’ face, they were afraid to come near him.
. . . When Moses finished speaking with them, he covered his face with a veil. But whenever he went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with the LORD, he would remove the veil until he came out again. 
Exodus 34:29-35

Conclusion: We have now returned to the Tent of Meeting where this section began (Ex. 33:7-11)

If we had missed significance of his encounter with Yahweh, we now see its visible effect
– Moses was not aware that his skin absorbed the radiance of God’s glory
• I doubt that we’re aware how our spending time with God reveals itself
• I know it’s different from those who try to look devout, pious or spiritual
– the point of all of this is that God has revealed something of himself to us
• in time, there would come a fuller and complete revelation of God
◦ he would appear to his people in the person of his Son

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6; see also Jn. 1:14; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:1-3)

• but for the time being, what Moses had was enough to know and live with God

What is impressed upon my heart today, is how important it is to experience God
– and to experience him in the ways he has revealed himself:

Delayed (or canceled) anger
Plentiful goodness
Plentiful faithfulness
Guaranteed kindness
Endless forgiveness, yet also holding us responsible to pursue his ways and forgiveness

• we know God as we receive all of this directly from him
– I have learned something from something that Stan has talked about a lot
• in his yoga practice–stretching, maintaining a posture, resting at the end–
◦ he has learned to pray with his body
◦ and, really, this is the only way we can pray in any meaningful way
• children naturally pray with their bodies–running, twirling, climbing, chasing birds and butterflies

Unless God’s love for us enters our bodies, we are sleeping through life
or, worse, we are dead while we live
To pray with our bodies is to give them to God,
a living and holy sacrifice (Ro. 12:1)
and to knowingly and passively receive into our bodies
all that God gives;
compassion, mercy, grace, his Spirit, himself


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  1. JEANNIE F ROTH / Jul 30 2018

    Pastor Chuck,
    For several years I attending your Capo Beach Church. In the early 90’s I met and fell in love with my husband and within a year, gave birth to a son. There were serious complication during pregnancy and delivery which in turn, caused health complications in my son. We began taking him to church as a toddler. He could rarely sit still during church as typically of little tykes. He was unique in that he eventually was diagnosed with ADHD.
    One Sunday we were at church. He always preferred listening to you, rather than going to child care. That Sunday you spoke about how you, yourself had ADHD. It was the greatest blessing you could have given him, acceptance. As the church situation evolved, you were obviously distraught. The attendees were never informed as to what transpired but I knew it wasn’t your fault. You are a kind, sensitive pastor. You reach beyond the high and mighty and definitely, reached my son. We approached you at the end of that particular service and you shook my sons hand. He was only 6 and I could tell that it made his day. He stopped wanting to attend church after you left, as did I but something significant changed; the church pastor no longer greeted us at the end of the service. A wonderful time which brought a renewal of faith to my family ended. I hope you are doing more than blogging these days. As for those who charged you with being Catholic like, I grew up as a Catholic; You are the reason I found Christ.

  2. Chuck Smith, Jr. / Jul 30 2018


    You have blessed my day. (I really mean it, with all my heart.)

    I meet with a small group of people on Sunday mornings and share with them from the Scriptures. If you have a Facebook account, you can find recordings from our meetings at Reflexion, a spiritual community.


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