Hope for Sinners

KEY VERSE: “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy.” —Psalm 103:8

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Exodus 32:9-14; 34:5-9

IN BIBLE history, names given to individuals were very important. For example, the name given to a child often reflected the circumstances associated with its birth or the feelings of the father or the mother. (Gen. 29:32; 30:13; I Sam. 1:20) At times, names were regarded as a reflection of an individual’s personality or character. (Gen. 27:36; I Sam. 25:26; Ruth 1:20) God changed the name of Abram, ‘father of exaltation’ to Abraham, ‘father of a multitude’, and Sarai, ‘dominative’ to Sarah, ‘princess’, both new names being prophetic.—Gen. 17:5,6,15,16

When God appeared to Moses at the burning bush, Moses said: “When I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name, what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Exod. 3:13,14) The Revised Standard Version translation states God’s name to be ‘I will be what I will be’. The thought seems to be that he is identifying himself as the all-powerful one in the universe. This was to be a comfort and a source of strength to the children of Israel. In Exodus 6:3 we read, “I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known unto them.” The change of names in God’s case did not alter his character or his personality, but rather would seem to indicate that previously he had revealed himself only partially, but that now was time for a more complete revealment.

In our text (Exod. 34:5-9), Moses had requested a further revealment of JEHOVAH’S name. It is interesting to observe the instructions that JEHOVAH gave Moses when he would reveal himself: “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me and live. … Behold there is a place by me, and thou shall stand upon a rock: and it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in the cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by.” (Exod. 33:20-22) The thought seems to be that God was here demonstrating his tender and loving care for Moses, his faithful servant. “And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” (Exod. 34:5-7) God, in this statement, revealed the attributes of his character, which can only be understood in the light of his divine plan of the ages.

When Adam was created and placed in the Garden of Eden, he was a perfect man. (Gen. 1:27) He was capable of obeying God’s perfect law, but he willfully disobeyed (I Tim. 2:14), and because of this he suffered the penalty for sin which is death. God said to him, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and to dust shalt thou return.”—Gen. 3:19

The sentence of death was passed on to all of Adam’s progeny and so the Apostle Paul states, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Rom. 5:12) But it was not God’s design to abandon man in this predicament. Jesus tells us that God provided a way to redeem man from sin and death saying, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Jesus came to earth as a man in order to take Adam’s place in death and thereby atone for Adam’s sin, and since all were condemned in Adam, the means for the release of all was provided by Jesus’ death on Calvary’s cross. (I Cor. 15:21,22) Man will have an opportunity for life through a resurrection from the dead in God’s long-promised kingdom here on earth. Then, with righteousness restored, we are told, God will remember sin no more.—Jer. 31:31-34

Dawn Bible Students Association
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