Summary: God has always operated on the basis of grace in relationship towards sinful people, and He continues that work through Jesus and offers forgiveness and intimacy, all through His grace. And we respond with deep joyful obedience.
God’s Relationship to Us: Grounded in Loving Grace
By Andrew Chan , Senior Pastor PBC, Vancouver, BC
5 Then the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud and called out his own name, “the LORD,” as Moses stood there in his presence. 6 He passed in front of Moses and said, “I am the LORD, I am the LORD, the merciful and gracious God. I am slow to anger and rich in unfailing love and faithfulness. 7 I show this unfailing love to many thousands by forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. Even so I do not leave sin unpunished, but I punish the children for the sins of their parents to the third and fourth generations.”
This comes right after Golden calf episode (Ex.32) – unimaginable betrayal by Israel. God could’ve easily in anger wiped out the entire population of Israel because of this offence. He was deeply hurt as the Israel rejected Him, He burned hot in anger calling them “stiff-necked” (32:9-10). There was a plague sent and those who did not repent were punished (32:35). Yet God was moved towards those who choose to repent, God’s grace was poured out, He remember His commitment and covenant (33:1-2). The distinct mark of God being with His people as Moses discovered is God’s gracious presence (33:14-16). So we see it now in Ex.34 God’s presence is to be made known once again …
See His willingness to come and reveal Himself as He “came down in a pillar of cloud” - get down to the level of where the people are at, relating to them. Then, He used His personal name YHWH, the LORD (English trans.) to show He desires a relationship.
He used the formula of v.6 to reveal His character, demonstrating a passion that’s unparalleled for a people deep in sin. Look at the mercy of God and marvel! See His deep commitment (v.7) in His willingness to forgive all sin (wickedness, rebellion and sin as in NIV) meaning every sin imaginable is forgivable and God will pour out His love that way. God in 34:10 declares “I hereby make a covenant…for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.” This underlines God’s intent to be faithful to His promise in Genesis to Abraham’s children and He repeats the terms of His covenant in the fashion of a lover reminding his loved one, what their first date is like. And see how the people responded… they responded with outpouring of their love, service and obedience. The entire 35th chapter shows a willingness of heart, not out of mere duty. This is a people transformed by God’s loving and passionate grace. God invites them to build the tabernacle so that He can be with them, dwell among them. God gifted them with the response as well, for where did they get the stuff to give to God, except from His hand (during the exodus fr. Egypt) and God filled certain people like Bezalel and Oholiab to build the tabernacle. They taught others. Look at the response of the folks there, they gave so much that Moses had to issue an order to stop the giving. A church treasurer’s dream eh? Because of such a response fr. God’s people, he is able to dwell among them. As we see in Ex.35:30-36:7 (NLT)
30 And Moses told them, “The LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 31 The LORD has filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, intelligence, and skill in all kinds of crafts. 32 He is able to create beautiful objects from gold, silver, and bronze. 33 He is skilled in cutting and setting gemstones and in carving wood. In fact, he has every necessary skill. 34 And the LORD has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach their skills to others. 35 The LORD has given them special skills as jewelers, designers, weavers, and embroiderers in blue, purple, and scarlet yarn on fine linen cloth. They excel in all the crafts needed for the work.
36 “Bezalel, Oholiab, and the other craftsmen whom the LORD has gifted with wisdom, skill, and intelligence will construct and furnish the Tabernacle, just as the LORD has commanded.”
2 So Moses told Bezalel and Oholiab to begin the work, along with all those who were specially gifted by the LORD. 3 Moses gave them the materials donated by the people for the completion of the sanctuary. Additional gifts were brought each morning. 4 But finally the craftsmen left their work to meet with Moses. 5 “We have more than enough materials on hand now to complete the job the LORD has given us to do!” they exclaimed.