In Exodus 34, Moses headed back up the mountain to meet with God and to receive a replacement set of the stone tablets. He was also going to see God’s glory- not your average, ordinary day, even for Moses, who spoke with God “face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend”! (Exodus 33:11a) But the LORD not only revealed His glory that day, He revealed His nature, to Moses and to all of us who read and study God’s word.
“And the LORD descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the LORD. Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.’ And Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship.” ~ Exodus 34:5-8
God tells us that He is compassionate. He is gracious- I am so thankful for His grace! He is slow to anger. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” ~ 2 Peter 3:9. He waits for us, gives us every opportunity to choose Him. He abounds in lovingkindness- He overflows with love and kindness toward us! He also abounds in truth. He is truth. His blessings overflow to future generations, when we love and serve Him. He forgives all our wrongs, when we repent and come to Him.
The next part of His nature He reveals to us is His justice. He must punish the guilty. For those of us who have trusted in Jesus, Jesus took our punishment upon Himself on the cross. Our sin has been paid for. In fact, Jesus took everyone’s punishment upon Himself, died so that everyone might live. But you must accept and receive His gift to you, this gift of life and forgiveness and redemption. Those who reject this gift from Jesus must pay the price for their own sins, and oh what a price- eternal separation from God and all that is good and light and truth and life. Choose life!
Some people think that God punishes children for what their parents and grandparents have done because of this passage~ “visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” But that idea doesn’t match what the rest of the Bible tells us of God. Each man is responsible for his own actions and sins and not those of another. “So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.” ~ Romans 14:12.
However, the consequences of actions may affect generations of your family- whether good actions- “lovingkindness for thousands”- or bad, like mentioned above. And even though our sins are forgiven, often we must still pay some consequences for our mistakes. Most of us can point to choices our parents or grandparents made that have affected us in some way. I think I would prefer to shower my children and grandchildren with good consequences, not bad ones!
For more information on God’s nature, as well as the nature of Jesus, check out this website, Servant Quarters. Pastor Gayle Erwin, one of my all-time favorite Bible teachers, has written books and taught on this for many years. His podcasts are wonderful, as well as his books and CDs. He is the most joy-full person I have ever met, and you must hear him talk about God “abooooouuuuunnnnnding in love”. 🙂