Thursday, March 15, 2007

The glory of His character

So, I'm in the thick of writing the book. I so, so appreciate all the prayers--they're working and the writing is coming along nicely.

The book I'm writing is as much about the character of God as it is about the effects of divorce on our lives. I can't wait to share with you all the awesome things I'm studying and learning about our wonderful, magnificent God.

This last week in church, my pastor reminded us of the importance of God's character. He's preaching through the book of Exodus right now, and we just covered the really cool text where God puts Moses in the cleft of the rock and parades His glory before the leader of His people. (I did a fun craft with the kids, involving a dixie cup, a paper cut-out of Moses, and a tracing of their hands that was taped to the side of the cup where it could flip down to cover Moses in the cup.) This passage is the source of the famous hymn Rock of Ages:
Rock of ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in Thee
And another hymn, which reads in part:
He hideth my soul in the cleft of a rock
That shadows a dry thirsty land
He hideth my life in the depths of His love
And covers me there with His hand
God hides Moses in this small chasm and then walks past him, glory ablaze. Moses can't see God's glory, even from this protected spot, and live, so God waits until only His back is visible, bits of glory trailing behind Him, before lifting His hand and letting Moses see Him. As my pastor pointed out, Moses then gives us an accurate portrait of God, thereby putting to rest all of the conjecture about the long white beard and whether He's white or black or brown or red, right? Wrong.

Having seen a glimpse of the Almighty's glory, enough to make his face shine like a beacon, Moses sees most fit to tell us what God said about Himself.

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, 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."

And as much as we might want to know about the long white beard, isn't it better to know about the long-suffering grace and mercy of our God, about His justice, and--as we discover in Christ--the perfect balance of these two elemental parts of His nature in the great scope of redemption? That character, that glorious and dreadful character, is our hope and joy. Because God is compassionate, He cares about our hurts. Because He is gracious, He is patient with our failings. Because He is slow to anger, we are not destroyed. He is loving and faithful and forgiving. But He is also just. He doesn't leave our hurts unpunished--neither the hurts we experience, nor the hurts we inflict. As He assured Israel, vengeance is His, and in His wisdom and mercy, He has laid all our sins on the perfect Christ, Jesus our Savior, who willingly took our punishment.

As Philip Bliss penned, "Hallelujah! What a savior!"

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