By the time of chapter 34, God has already given the people of Israel a covenant, and they've already broken it. The covenant promised that if they kept the commandments of the covenant, they will reap the benefits of the covenant. That was the deal, simple enough. But instead they fell in love with what they could produce rather than what God was wanting to produce, by building a golden calf and worshipping that instead.
This passage is about God's mercy. The fact that we find Moses up on the mountain a second time, discussing the issue with God, when God really should have followed through with the original deal of the covenant and revoked the inheritance, is proof of that mercy.
And what's more, while Moses is up on the mountain God gives Moses this description of Himself in verse 6 as "a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness..."
Moses leaves the mountain with a covenant for the second time. When he comes down, his face is so radiant from being in God's presence that he has to wear a veil around the Israelites because it freaked them out too much.
God gave the Israelites a promise, they messed it up, and what comes after that? God's mercy. God's provision. God's steadfast love. God's holy presence.
We don't have to be afraid of feeling far from God and then coming back to a God that's going to half-receive us, or half-forgive us, or only give us half of what He promised before. He doesn't just give up the people He loves, He works through it with us, loving us the whole time.
Next time you feel far from God or feel like you messed up, remember His nature. Remember Psalm 34:5, "Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed." Remember that God's response isn't shaming you, it's loving you and over and over again and guiding you to the complete fullness of life that He wants for you. God is not about to let our sins and our mistakes get in the way of His promises to us.
God, thank you that you are merciful and that You're never going to give up on me. When I turn away from You, remind me of who You are and that You're never going to give half of Your promises to me.
Author | Kelley Losinger