Life is full of difficult challenges and one can often wonder, “Lord where are You?”. We like to think that, “if God is for us then who can be against us”, yet at times, it would seem like everything is against us and perhaps God has forgotten about us or is deliberately choosing to withhold His help. In Exodus 33, Moses has just processed with the Children of Israel the consequences of building the golden calf. In the same chapter Moses is pleading that God’s glory would be with them. In Chapter 34 God tells Moses to make another set of tablets and to take them up into the mountain so that Moses can again meet with God. Then in verse 5 of chapter 34 a simple but powerful phrase is stated, “Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there.”
In spite of all the challenges that had already taken place a simple proclamation is made, “The Lord descended … and stood with him.” It is not that Moses, through some strength of his own, ascended to meet with God, but rather that God descended to stand beside Moses. What encouragement and hope this should produce knowing that God is taking the initiative, He is coming down to you, to stand with you. He is there to give support, comfort and courage. (We see this also in the life of Jesus who came down from heaven to stand with us here on earth.)
In the next verse the Lord makes a pronouncement declaring His nature and character, as He passed before Moses. “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, … ” There are many things that we would want God to do for us and what we would like Him to show us or to say to us, if He were right there standing with us. But the most important thing that God wanted Moses to understand was that He is merciful, gracious, longsuffering, abounding in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin. These were the first things Moses was to be aware of.
In the struggles of life, in the questions of “God why did this happen”, and “where are You God” there is something that needs to be kept clearly before us. We need to be aware of the truth that God – in all His dealings with mankind, in all His actions and motives – is merciful, gracious, longsuffering, abounding in goodness, truth and forgiveness. Moses needed to know these character traits and attributes of God.
As a follower of Christ we also need to know that God is always standing with us in our circumstances, even though we may not appreciate what is happening around us. May we also clearly see these attributes of God abounding in our life and situations.