Lent 2022 Day 15
Fri 18 Mar
Exodus 34:4-10 The Law II
4 So Moses chiselled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the Lord had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. 5 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’
8 Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshipped. 9 ‘Lord,’ he said, ‘if I have found favour in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.’
10 Then the Lord said: ‘I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you.
It didn’t take long for the law to be broken, quite literally, when Moses smashed the stone tablets upon seeing the idolatry of his people as they worshipped that golden calf. Earlier on (Exodus 24:1-11), we see an obedient and faithful crew going up the mountain with Moses and seeing God.
Later on, things change. Moses has been away too long. They fall remarkably quickly into idolatry (Exodus 32, and note how that gold could not be used for any other purpose afterwards). What a shower they were.
Moses goes up the mountain one more time. This time, we have the most glorious, awe-inducing, majestic experience – God pronounces his name before Moses.
What’s in a name? The name of God is clearly not something given to him by parents. He has chosen his name, and his name describes who he is. He is The Lord. He is compassionate and gracious. Let’s just pause there, and revisit the general impression people, including a large number of Christians, have of God, as a holy and distant, unfeeling and revengeful god. Just listen to his name, and see otherwise. I would recommend that you learn the name of God.
He is still a holy and righteous God, but He (and I use upper case here) is also patient with us, ridiculously patient with us. He is a God of love, and He is faithful. Whatever He says he will do, He will do. Whatever covenant He makes, He will keep it. His forgiveness is proclaimed before He announces His holy right to punish the guilty, and to pass on punishment to the great-great-grandchildren. That particular aspect of God’s nature may offend your sense of righteousness, but God is God, not man. You know where you stand with God, and, as I said yesterday, I’m planning on blessing my descendants.
Can you complete this without looking back: The Lord, the Lord, …?
Are there aspects of your DNA that you excuse by saying, I am who I am (and in so doing break the first and third Commandments – see Exodus 3:14)?
Father God, You are the Lord, you are compassionate, you are gracious, you are slow to anger, you abound in love and faithfulness. This is your name. This is who you are. I worship you. Amen.
Join in the responsorial: