Gerald Owens, Exodus 34:5-7

, posted by geraldowens

“Why do you love me?” This question from the beloved strikes terror in the hearts of the unprepared lover, for the answer will be taken with more seriousness than the response to “what movie will we go to tonight?” This is because the answer also answers questions like “How much do you know me? Do you value the same personal qualities that I do? What are you after? What is it that you truly admire in a person, and what does that say about you? Have you been paying attention to the ‘deep me’ that determines what I reveal of myself?” Wise is the lover who has previously asked the beloved the question “Tell me about yourself!”, for in the beloved’s answer is the mine from which the lover digs out the answer to this most significant of “why” questions!

In Exodus 33, Moses asks God to show him His glory. His request is answered in Exodus 34:5-7.

5 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 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 fathers to the third and fourth generation.” [NIV]

It is held as axiomatic by all that God does everything for His own glory, but Calvinists insist that His Absolute Sovereignty is necessary to ensure that that glory is obtained and that the decree of divine predestination is also necessary to ensure that all His plans succeed. Yet YHWH’s self-revelation to Moses contains no words describing the traditional divine properties of Omnipotence, Omniscence, and Omnipresence that must necessarily exist for all to be carried out as ordained. These qualities indeed exist and apply to Him, yet because they come first to our minds is no cause to believe that they are the first things that come to His mind. These are words that come to mind when one asks “What can God do?”

Compassionate. Gracious. Slow to anger. Loving and faithful to many. Forgiving. There is certainly punishment of the guilty that is so severe that the effects are felt to the third and fourth generations, but this is to protect the innocent and deter emulators. The punishment has a reason, and is stated after the hope of forgiveness has been stated so that it is clear that forgiveness through repentance is available. These qualities would not be voiced by Someone obsessed with having His sovereignty established beyond question via His arbitrary judgments and choices. These are words that come to mind when one asks “What is God like?”

What will you answer when God asks “Why do you love me?” as He seemed to ask me recently during my personal devotions? Quite surprisingly, once I answered, the question of “Which movie will we see tonight?” had an answer that was not only obvious, but delightfully inevitable.

May you have the blessing of being equally delighted as well!