Second Day of Lent
Scripture: Exodus 34:1-10 (NKJV)
1 And the Lord said to Moses, “Cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke. 2 So be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself to Me there on the top of the mountain. 3 And no man shall come up with you, and let no man be seen throughout all the mountain; let neither flocks nor herds feed before that mountain.”
4 So he cut two tablets of stone like the first ones. Then Moses rose early in the morning and went up Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him; and he took in his hand the two tablets of stone.
5 Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 6 And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”
8 So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped. 9 Then he said, “If now I have found grace in Your sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance.”
10 And He said: “Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.”
“The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty.” (Ex.34:6b-7a)
It sounds quite familiar: God…mercy, goodness, truth, forgiving. But then comes that phrase, “by no means clearing the guilty.” Does that surprise you? It should not, but for many modern Christians, it does.
An aspect of God’s perfection is that His justice is perfect. A parent may decide it just is not worth the trouble to correct their child, and pretend not to notice the misdeed. God never does that! It would make His justice imperfect, and God is perfect completely! Because He is a just God, He never “clears the guilty.” Every sin must be punished.
If God could just ignore our sin, we would not need Jesus. Rather, because each sin must be punished, we need Jesus very much! His death on the cross makes payment for all our sin. It satisfies God’s justice, and so opens to us the way of God’s mercy, goodness, and forgiveness.
“Lord God, heavenly Father, grant me so to recognize the guilt of my sin, that I would truly repent of it all, and increasingly treasure the very great gift of Jesus’ sacrifice for my salvation. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”