If God came to you in person and introduced Himself, what do you think he would say? Incredibly, this actually happened to Moses, and those words re-echo through the pages of Scripture.
On Mount Sinai, Moses had seen powerful signs of God’s presence, including thunder, earthquake, fire, trumpet blasts, and more. But still not satisfied, he begged God for the privilege of seeing His own glory. God did not allow Moses to see His face but he did let him see his “back” as He passed by. This was accompanied by a full introduction to His name and character:
The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out,
“Yahweh! The LORD!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected—
even children in the third and fourth generations.”
This foundational description of God’s character is cited at least seven more times throughout the Old Testament. It is the way He wants us to remember Him. (Numbers 14:18; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalms 86:15; 103:8; 145:8; Joel 2:13, Jonah 4:2)
God’s primary nature is love: compassion, unfailing love, faithfulness, forgiveness, mercy, patience. But He is not a big teddy bear in the sky! He is also holy and cannot tolerate sin and rebellion. For more about God’s love and patience, Israel’s rebellion and then God’s response, read Psalm 78. It’s quite a story!