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Sermon Discussion + Prayer: "God's Autobiography"

PRAYING THE PASSAGE:
Exodus 34:1-9

John Piper – “. . . what was clearly at the heart of Moses’ request was a longing to know the glory of God’s character from which flowed the mercy that he had just been promised.”
Father, keep me from being satisfied with simply seeing what you do or receiving what you give. Please help me to see that what you do reveals who you are; and so draw me to long to know you. And as I more intimately know you, may my trust in you, obedience to you, and love for you only grow!

The covenant Israel violated — God is renewing. He still desires a relationship with them/wants them to have the joy of living in His presence, & walking in His ways, & experiencing His blessing.
Lord, please keep me from a pride that leads me to believe that some sin that I have committed is greater than your mercy, forgiveness, and grace. And keep from the equally wicked presumption that leads me to an indifference to any sin, because of a perverse understanding of grace. Deepen my knowledge of both your grace and your holiness; that I might truly behold, and that my life might truly reflect, your glory.

Victor Hamilton – “Everything the Lord says autobiographically is something that God is or does for the benefit of others, especially his chosen people.”
Holy Spirit, please grant to us as a church family a clearer understanding of each of the ways God describes himself, and flood our memories with the ways in which we have experienced each:

  • Merciful and gracious – your tenderness, nearness, kindness, and comfort
  • Slow to anger – your patience in allowing conviction and repentance
  • Steadfast love – from which nothing – nothing! – can separate us
  • Faithfulness – not one of your promises fail. That we sit hear drawn to you and your word testifies to your commitment to us
  • Forgiving iniquity and sin – the price that you paid through the sacrifice of your son, that gloriously compels us to be a church family centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ!
  • Will by no means clear the guilty – thank you for the fear of God that deepens our love for righteousness and hatred for iniquity. Thank for stirring our hearts to share the gospel with others. And thank you for the assurance that all will one day be made right.

Just as God expounded the significance of His name in this revelation—He would later expound the significance of this revelation in One to come. And that revelation would not simply be an announcement, but a Person—the person of Jesus Christ. To answer the question, “What is God like?”—God’s final answer is, “Look at Jesus Christ.”
Father, no matter what the circumstance, fill my heart and my mind with the glorious truth that because of Jesus Christ, “Surely goodness, and steadfast love, shall follow me all the days of my life.”
And that when life is over: “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

OVERVIEW OF SERMON:
More so than the rest of the Old Testament, Exodus 34 tells God’s story and reveals his character. Because of Israel’s faithlessness, God’s desire for relationship with them grates against his holy nature. Thankfully, God is a merciful Father. He is slow to anger and abounding in “committed, loyal, freely given, undeserved, grab-hold-of-you-and-never-let-you-go love!” God does not hold sin over our heads, but he lifts it off our shoulders. However, God does not overlook the guilty. Instead, the tension between his love and his holiness is resolved as Jesus satisfies God’s justice on the cross. In Christ, God forgives our sin and extends all of his goodness to us.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Exodus 34:1-9 demonstrates the tension between God’s perfect holiness and his love for imperfect sinners. How can this passage broaden our awareness of both of these aspects of God’s character?
  2. When the Israelites repent, God is slow to anger and faithful to forgive. No type or degree of sin is beyond God’s power to forgive. What sins do you need to confess to God and potentially to someone in your community group as we trust in God’s mercy?
  3. Jeff mentioned that “steadfast love” is a deep, meaningful word that does not have a one-to-one English translation. It is God’s unobligated loyalty and pledged love. It is his “committed, loyal, freely given, undeserved, grab-hold-of-you-and-never-let-you-go love!” Which of these descriptions excites you the most about God’s love and why?
  4. Like Moses, how does this proclamation of God’s goodness spur you on to worship and prayer? For whom can you pray Exodus 34:1-9 this week?
  5. How will you share the gospel of the cross from this passage?