EXODUS 34: 1-7a
1 The LORD said to Moses, “Cut two stone tablets like the first ones. I’ll write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke into pieces. 2 Get ready in the morning and come up to Mount Sinai. Stand there on top of the mountain in front of me. 3 No one else can come up with you. Don’t allow anyone even to be seen anywhere on the mountain. Don’t even let sheep and cattle graze in front of the mountain.” 4 So Moses cut two stone tablets like the first ones. He got up early in the morning and climbed up Mount Sinai, just as the LORD had commanded him. He carried the two stone tablets in his hands. 5 The LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him, and proclaimed the name, “The LORD.” 6 The LORD passed in front of him and proclaimed:
“The LORD! The LORD!
a God who is compassionate and merciful,
full of great loyalty and faithfulness,
7 showing great loyalty to a thousand generations,
forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion,
As I read today’s scripture, I think of the power of persistence on Moses’ part but most importantly on the part of God.
Previously, the Hebrews have disobeyed God’s commandments. Moses broke the tablets, symbolizing the covenant that the people have broken. Now, on behalf of the people, Moses will cut two more tablets from stone and sorrowfully return to the mountaintop. It is as if God is saying, Come back to Me and try again. Come up to the mountain, Moses. I am “The Lord! A God who is compassionate and merciful, (I am) very patient”. (verse 34:6)
I think of the multiple times that I’ve needed a do over. Oh, how often I’ve needed someone’s patience! How have my words or actions gotten me in trouble? Of course there are times that I’ve needed a little grace, yesterday, as well as today.
Particularly as a child, how many times did I give a snarky word or torment a sibling? As a parent, I too remember my own kids’ needing to try again after breaking rules. How many times did I hear my son say, “Mom, I promise, I’ll…, (take out trash, clean my room…),” only to discover that he hadn’t done that thing that he said he would? There would be contrition and asking for forgiveness. Then sometimes there would be change, but many other times patience on my part was what was still called for.
As children or adults, it is easy to think of the multiple ways that we can and do things that we know we shouldn’t. We all sin. Perhaps, we promise to read the Bible each day and just don’t. Maybe we need to stop and to pray with purpose, and this is a constant struggle. Perhaps it is our lack of judgment for which we need to apologize.
We need a little humility and then to genuinely ask for forgiveness. Whatever the sin, when we say, “I’m sorry” and ask for forgiveness, now it is our Lord who persistently forgives every kind of wrong. It is Our Lord who is forgiving and faithful. Our God is that unshakable mountain -the one who is “full of loyalty and faithfulness (vs. 34:7a). Our Lord tells us to come up to the mountain. I AM here.
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
Forgiveness means so much in the lives of people. For better, or for worse, “forgiveness” -or the lack thereof- changes hearts and minds. How has knowing that God forgives you, despite even needing it time and time again, change or challenge your perspective of who God is?
Prayer: Faithful God, thank you for your patience with me. You are the one who is most persistent in this relationship. Whenever I falter, you are the one who pursues me, and helps me want to return to your grace-filled ways. Draw me closer to you Oh, Lord, so that I may always know your loving ways. Amen.