Devotional Thoughts for Today
“The Character of God”
Exodus 34:6-7 (NASB)
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; 7 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.”
God’s loving kindness and mercy and compassion is on display here. If you recall where we are in this story, Moses has returned to Mount Sinai to renew the covenant on behalf of Israel. Israel had broken their covenant with the Lord by worshipping a golden calf, for which three thousand are killed that day. Where is the mercy of God? Where is the compassionate and gracious God who is slow to anger? First of all, we need to understand that God has already been incredibly slow to anger toward the Israelites. Even though God has shown Himself again and again by rescuing His people out of Egypt through signs and wonders and pledged Himself to them, they committed spiritual adultery by worshiping a golden calf, a god made from their own hands.
Secondly, it’s important to understand what God is saying here, because it can be easy to see His statements as contradictory when read the wrong way. Yes, He does show loving kindness, forgiveness, and grace, but only for those that will repent and turn back to Him. In Exodus 32, Moses cries out “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me!” The sons of Levi gather to him and they are spared from the wrath of God. This is a picture of God’s call to us – whoever is for the LORD, must return to Him and receive His forgiveness, His compassion, His loving kindness. However, God will not leave the guilty unpunished, and He will punish the sins of those that remain unrepentant, even to the third and fourth generation. Does this sound familiar? The first time God makes a covenant with the people of God (in Exodus 20), He tells them not to make any idols, because God is a jealous God who visits the iniquity of the fathers on their children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Him.
As much as God is Love, Mercy, Compassion, Forgiveness, God is Just. His justice and wrath will come upon those who hate Him, and it makes sense for Him to do so. Because God is love, He must hate sin, and He must punish and wipe away that sin. May this be a reminder for us – to hate sin as our God hates sin, and to turn to Him, knowing that when we do, He will shower his forgiveness and mercy upon us. Do not take His grace and mercy as a license for sin and rebellion. Rather, love Him because of His incredible love for you.
Prayer: Father God, thank you for your love and compassion. Thank you for your forgiveness and mercy. Soften my heart so that I may walk in the path of your forgiveness–that I may know the fullness of your love and compassion and be a recipient of your blessing. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Samuel 29
Lunch Break Study
Read Hebrews 12:7-11 (ESV): Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Question to Consider
- What does this passage list as the importance of discipline?
- What is the fruit of discipline?
- What are ways you are currently experiencing the discipline of God?
- Discipline is for all who are considered children of God. When discipline occurs, it reminds the one that is being disciplined that they are His legitimate children. Sometimes, we don’t care for the discipline, nor do we understand the reason, but we submit to the Father who disciplines for our good.
- Discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Those that have been disciplined and have experienced the fruit of discipline are not as allergic to the thought of further discipline, for they know that there is more fruit to come out of the discipline.
- Personal Response.
Sometimes the discipline of God can feel like the judgment of God coming down on us. However, we know that as children of God, we have been shown mercy and compassion. Even though we mess up and turn away from Him, we know that He disciplines us so that we will be restored to Him. However, as we learn today, the judgment of God will come upon those who continually choose to turn away from Him and reject His forgiveness and mercy.