We’ve been making the argument over the past few days that to be alive is to desire, seek, and display glory. Without glory there isn’t much to live for. It gets us out of bed in the morning. Today, let’s pick up where we left off yesterday and take a closer look at Moses’ prayer for the glory of God and God’s response.
Exodus 33:18-19. Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.
Exodus 34:6-7. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
Moses asks to see God’s glory. God’s response is that his “goodness” will pass before Moses. God’s glory is his goodness. If God is not good, then he is not glorious. He is not weighty, worthy, beautiful, significant, unique or holy. But God IS good. And he is the source of all goodness.
What is goodness? God’s declaration of his own name and character in Exodus 34:6-7 reveals the two aspects of his character that reveal his goodness. They may appear to be in tension with one another, but in reality they work together to create perfect goodness.
God declares that he is mercy, grace, and steadfast love. He is full of grace and compassionate love for his people. Because of his covenant promises to the us, His love is a dedicated love that will never end.
God also declares that he is just, righteous and holy. He is morally pure. He will not clear the guilty. He will fairly punish sin fully and completely.
(Note that God’s statement that he will visit the sins of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations does not mean that God will punish children for their parents sins- that would be unjust and not good. It does mean, however, that he will continue to punish sins for as many generations as it takes to root that sin out of his people.)
Love + Holiness = Goodness
Together, love and holiness combine to make God good. Love without holiness would not be good- just sentimentalism with no real change. And holiness without love would also not be good- just moralism, with no compassion.
God’s glory is his goodness, and that is life. And it is a real life lived. The life of Jesus. His life is the greatest display of God’s goodness, and his death on the cross is the greatest display of the union of God’s love and holiness. On the cross God displayed his love and forgiveness of every sin, and at the same time his justice in punishing every sin. By faith in his Christ’s substitutionary death we gain this same glory. The glory that is goodness, love, and holiness.