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God According to God: A Study of Exodus 34:6-7

God According to God: A Study of Exodus 34:6-7


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We have many ways to describe God. Some are straight from the text, like “God is love.” Others are from philosophical categories, like “God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.”

What if we let God tell us more about who God is? In Exodus 34:6-7, God reveals many things about himself when he gives Moses and Israel a summary statement: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 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.”

We’ll take a look at this passage, and then look at several instances when it gets repeated in different contexts. It was evidently a “memory verse” of sorts for Israel, and they brought it out at different occasions. God himself repeats it at times too. As Brevard Childs writes, “[t]he frequent use through the rest of the Old Testament of the formula in [Exod 34:6] by which the nature of God is portrayed…is an eloquent testimony to the centrality of this understanding of God’s person.”

The first half of the study will focus on different instances where this statement from Exodus 34 appears. The second half will treat each quality (e.g., compassionate, slow to anger, etc.) topically and look at how (if at all) God’s children are called to imitate that quality.