Sunday Morning – 8/30/2020

The Importance of God’s Character

Photo by Ricky Turner on Unsplash

We are approaching the Days of Awe. As we reflect on our lives and those things that separate us, that keep us from a vibrant relationship with Jesus, let us remember God’s character.

God reveals what He is like to Moses on Mount Sinai. He shares 5 attributes that His character emits.

These are mentioned in the most quoted verse in the Bible. It is used, in part, over 20 times throughout Scripture.

The Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed:
The Lord—the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But he will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ iniquity on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.

Exodus 34:6–7 (CSB)

Here is a great illustrative video on this passage to help us get a handle on all that is being said.

Attributes of God

So here are the attributes listed.

  • Compassionate & Gracious
  • Slow to anger
  • Abounding with faithful Love & Truth

How Does God Maintain This?

How does God maintain His faithful relationship with faithless people? He forgives. What does He forgive? He forgives iniquity, rebellion, and sin.

This He does for thousands of generations. But then the other side comes out.

He will not leave the guilty unpunished. Remember what God tells us through the prophet Micah.

Mankind, he has told each of you what is good
and what it is the Lord requires of you:
to act justly,
to love faithfulness,
and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8 (CSB)

Micah relays, this is what the Lord requires of you. At the same time He is describing how God deals with us.

While being full of loving-kindness toward us He must still act justly with the guilty. And this brings me to a question, “What will this next year bring for America?”

Let’s look at three examples of how God has dealt with nations in light of His character. This will be a two-part message.

The three examples are Moses, Jonah, and Jeremiah. The first we will look at is Israel under Moses.

Remember Your Promise…

7 The LORD spoke to Moses: “Go down at once! For your people you brought up from the land of Egypt have acted corruptly. 8 They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them; they have made for themselves an image of a calf. They have bowed down to it, sacrificed to it, and said, ‘Israel, these are your gods, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’ ” 9 The LORD also said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and they are indeed a stiff-necked people. 10 Now leave me alone, so that my anger can burn against them and I can destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

11 But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God: “LORD, why does your anger burn against your people you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and a strong hand?

12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘He brought them out with an evil intent to kill them in the mountains and eliminate them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger and relent concerning this disaster planned for your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel—you swore to them by yourself and declared, ‘I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky and will give your offspring all this land that I have promised, and they will inherit it forever.’ ” 14 So the LORD relented concerning the disaster he had said he would bring on his people.

Exodus 32:7–14 (CSB)

Moses reminded God of His word and His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And the Lord relented.

Which attributes of God’s character do you think were active in this intervention?

How important is this to us? As we study the word of God and know Him more we come to love Him. He keeps His word.

We have entered into the New Covenant with Jesus. We are His covenant people, His Bride.

He keeps His word, His promises and we must keep ours as well. He has made this possible through repentance and obedience.

This act of intercession saved the nation of Israel.

What must we do as God’s people to save our nation?

But that wasn’t the end of it. When Moses got back to the Israelites camp he saw what God was talking about. And then he lost it.

Three thousand died that day and order was restored. That wasn’t the end of Moses intercession…

Maybe I Can Atone For This Sin…

30 The following day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a grave sin. Now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I will be able to atone for your sin.”
31 So Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Oh, these people have committed a grave sin; they have made a god of gold for themselves. 32 Now if you would only forgive their sin. But if not, please erase me from the book you have written.”

Exodus 32:30–32 (CSB)

Moses was willing to substitute himself for the people. This is a foreshadowing of what Jesus would do for man. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice and atonement for us.

God did inflict the people with a plague to reinforce that there was some corporate responsibility for what happened. He does hold people accountable. Fortunately, he is full of mercy as well as judgment (James 2:13 CSB).

I Will Not Go With You

33 The LORD spoke to Moses: “Go up from here, you and the people you brought up from the land of Egypt, to the land I promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying: I will give it to your offspring. 2 I will send an angel ahead of you and will drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hethites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. 3 Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go up with you because you are a stiff-necked people; otherwise, I might destroy you on the way.” 4 When the people heard this bad news, they mourned and didn’t put on their jewelry.

Exodus 33:1–4 (CSB)

Moses wasn’t satisfied with that answer. He set up the tent of meeting. He didn’t want to be separated from his God.

In the tent he would meet with God. The Lord would speak with him face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.

But Moses wanted to know Him more…

Teach Me Your Ways And I Will Know You

12 Moses said to the LORD, “Look, you have told me, ‘Lead this people up,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor with me.’ 13 Now if I have indeed found favor with you, please teach me your ways, and I will know you, so that I may find favor with you. Now consider that this nation is your people.”

14 And he replied, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

15 “If your presence does not go,” Moses responded to him, “don’t make us go up from here. 16 How will it be known that I and your people have found favor with you unless you go with us? I and your people will be distinguished by this from all the other people on the face of the earth.”

17 The LORD answered Moses, “I will do this very thing you have asked, for you have found favor with me, and I know you by name.”

18 Then Moses said, “Please, let me see your glory.”

Exodus 33:12–18 (CSB)

Moses was asking God to reveal Himself fully. He was looking for intimacy with the Almighty.

God said He would show Moses part of His goodness. This is where God hid him in the cleft of the rock and allowed him to see His backside.

The Lord our God is wanting to have relationship with us. We have entered into a covenant with His Son and this covenant has obligations. These are like marriage vows that we promise to keep.

If I Have Found Favor With You

5 The LORD came down in a cloud, stood with him there, and proclaimed his name, “the LORD.” 6 The LORD passed in front of him and proclaimed:

The LORD—the LORD is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, 7 maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But he will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ iniquity on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.

8 Moses immediately knelt low on the ground and worshiped. 9 Then he said, “My Lord, if I have indeed found favor with you, my Lord, please go with us (even though this is a stiff-necked people), forgive our iniquity and our sin, and accept us as your own possession.”

COVENANT OBLIGATIONS


10 And the LORD responded, “Look, I am making a covenant. In the presence of all your people I will perform wonders that have never been done in the whole earth or in any nation. All the people you live among will see the LORD’s work, for what I am doing with you is awe-inspiring. 11 Observe what I command you today. I am going to drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hethites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.

Exodus 34:5–11 (CSB)

Moses, through his relationship with Almighty God, made intercession for Israel. He moved God from wanting to destroy them to accepting them as His own possession.

Will God move us to intercede for the nation or will He keep us from it? Will we find His favor or will He bring judgement?

Next Steps

As we come into the Days of Awe, we have a unique opportunity to change the course of our nation. We need to do a few things.

  1. Fast
  2. Pray
  3. Listen
  4. Repent

14 and my people, who bear my name, humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (CSB)

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