Exodus 34:1-11 As long as we repent, there is no sin that God cannot pardon or mistakes He cannot undo
Exodus 34:1-11 As long as we repent, there is no sin that God cannot pardon or mistakes He cannot undo
Now the LORD said to Moses, “Cut out for yourself two stone tablets like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered. So be ready by morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to Me on the top of the mountain. No man is to come up with you, nor let any man be seen anywhere on the mountain; even the flocks and the herds may not graze in front of that mountain.”
So he cut out two stone tablets like the former ones, and Moses rose up early in the morning and went up to Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and he took two stone tablets in his hand. 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.”
Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship. He said, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go along in our midst, even though the people are so obstinate, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your own possession.” Then God said, “Behold, I am going to make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform miracles which have not been produced in all the earth nor among any of the nations; and all the people among whom you live will see the working of the LORD, for it is a fearful thing that I am going to perform with you. “Be sure to observe what I am commanding you this day: behold, I am going to drive out the Amorite before you, and the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite.
God made space for the people to ponder over the incident of the golden calf. Indeed, the death of the 3000 people (see v32:28) and the divine punishment that ensued (see v32:35) gave them cause for soul searching. God’s refusal to accompany the Israelites to the promised land had awakened them to the seriousness of their transgressions. They have broken their covenant with God. Moses set up a tent outside the camp so that each person may approach God to commune with Him. But it was indeed Moses’s appeal to God’s compassion and righteousness that changed God’s mind to restore the covenant with Israel. Here, we see God’s capacity to love and forgive intransigent men. Indeed, God’s love is eternal, omnipresent and undeterred by sin and darkness. And we can repent and restore our covenant with God at any time, anywhere, in life or in death. Today’s devotion teaches us: As long as we repent, there is no sin that God cannot pardon or mistakes He cannot undo.
Now the LORD said to Moses, “Cut out for yourself two stone tablets like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered.
God proceeded to replace the tablets and restore the covenant that was broken. Indeed, God is infinitely kind and compassionate. Even though God warned the people of certain destruction, He did not treat them as their sins deserved. As the Israelites repented of their sins, God changed His mind and restored the covenant with them.
Here, apart from Moses, Israel was instructed to keep a distance from the mountain. For anyone who approaches God must be found holy and God-fearing, not just in ceremonial terms, but in all aspects of their life and being.
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.
Moses responded to God’s instructions with the utmost reverence and urgency. As Moses called upon the name of the Lord, He descended and stood next to Moses. God allowed Moses to see His glory so that he might mirror and acquire God’s attributes, which is compassion and righteousness.
Compassion: “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…”
Righteousness: “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…”
God’s compassion and righteousness are His eternal and immutable attributes. They are not mutually exclusive but are integral and unified in God. God’s eternal compassion is revealed in His willingness to forgive and pardon whenever a person repents. For the sake of righteousness, God forgives so that we may be righteous and holy. Hence, there is no sin too heinous that God cannot forgive. That said, there is a sin that is unforgivable; which is the refusal to submit to the truth and the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Righteousness, on the other hand, is God’s goal and purpose from eternity to eternity. For the sake of righteousness, God expelled Adam from Eden and gave him the promise of salvation. For the sake of righteousness, God sent Jesus into the world. For the sake of righteousness, God establishes the New Heaven, New Earth, the lake of fire and assigns every soul to his rightful place. Therefore, for the sake of righteousness, God metes out punishment on the guilty so that they may repent. And He exercises oversight by disciplining the descendants if they do not repent from the wickedness of their forefathers.
Then God said, “Behold, I am going to make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform miracles which have not been produced in all the earth nor among any of the nations.
At the revelation of God’s glory, Moses requested God to formally ratify the original covenant that was broken. God acceded to Moses’s request by saying “I am going to make a covenant.” In addition, God promised to perform miracles never before seen to drive out the inhabitants of the promised land.
As long as we repent, there is no sin that God cannot pardon or mistakes He cannot undo.
The Israelites, knowing full well of the consequences of rebellion broke the covenant. This resulted in the death of 3000 men and God disowning them as His children. After a period of soul searching, the people repented of their sins. This led to God’s forgiveness and full restoration of the original covenant. What motivated God to reverse what He said He would do against stiff-necked Israel? It is His compassionate and gracious nature. He proclaimed of Himself: “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.” Indeed, it is His lovingkindness that kept Him looking for a way to reverse the destiny of sinful men, and to undo the consequences of our mistakes.
God’s love is eternal, omnipresent and undeterred by sin
God’s love for humanity is everlasting, undiminished by the passage of time. Man’s love may fade after a protracted time of absence. Man’s love may cease when trust is repeatedly broken by betrayal. But God’s love is infinitely bigger and stronger. The LORD appeared to Jeremiah saying,
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3a.
God is referring to Israel who left Him for the world. After Israel was exiled into Assyria, God reached out to Israel with undiminished love saying,
“Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! Again you will take up your tambourines, And go forth to the dances of the merrymakers.” Jeremiah 31:4.
Indeed, God’s lovingkindness is unchanging and undeterred by men’s intransigence. In another passage, Paul spoke about the omnipresent and eternal nature of God’s love,
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39
Humanity will continue to experience God’s everlasting love in death. Even in the depth of hell, men will continue to experience His love. In other words, God’s love is not just eternal, it is omnipresent. His love and presence can be felt in hell in the same way it is felt in heaven. The psalmist wrote,
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol (hell), behold, You are there. – Psalm 139:7-8
And His love is undeterred by the activities of sin and darkness.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You. – Psalm 139:11-12
The Apostle Peter spoke of Christ when He was raised reached out to the souls imprisoned in hell. These are the ones who were disobedient in the days of Noah.
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. – 1 Peter 3:17-20
Indeed, God’s love knows no bounds. And He desires all men to be saved and not to perish (see 1 Timothy 2:4).
To repent is to regenerate one’s heart to love God and fellow men.
Having understood the fact that God’s love is eternal and omnipresent, we can restore our covenant with God through repentance at any time, anywhere, in life or in death. However, some repent to alleviate their pain and to neutralise the consequences of their wrongdoings. And as soon as they emerge from their troubles, they return to their old ways. Such has never truly repented, their hearts remain callous and self-serving. Therefore, pain and punishment can never move a person to love God and fellow men. Only a desire to return to the truth by being reborn in the Spirit can save him. That said, many having tasted God’s goodness took Him for granted, they fall away to pursue their selfish agenda. Hebrews speaks of the impossibility for those who have experienced God’s goodness, if they fall away to ever return to God,
For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. – Hebrews 6:4-6
God’s goodness only causes them to become more greedy and selfish. To such belongs eternal damnation, and nothing more can be done. Therefore, we must continually seek to account to one another in love and truth so that we may not fall away.
Do you feel the weight of fear and hopelessness because of past trauma? Do you feel that you are not meant to be successful because of a family curse? Freedom from fear and curses begins with repentance. By submitting yourself fully under God’s will, you will discover your true potential and fulfil it.
Dear Lord, I thank you for looking past my sins and stubbornness. Cause me to see myself and the world through Your eyes of love. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.