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Hello, I’m God! - Exodus 34:5-9

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People have written and spoken about God for millennia. It’s what I have done for nearly four decades. But today we get to hear from God Himself as He gives to Moses His own autobiography. Here He introduces Himself by stating His name and His occupation as God. He states His primary character traits, thus framing what our relationship with Him is going to be like. This is a primary passage of Scripture, meaning other biblical authors make reference to it later on in their writings. Let’s find out what God says about Himself.

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7/12/2020
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Hello, I’m God!
Exodus 34:5-9
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
People have written and spoken about God for millennia. It’s what I have done for nearly four decades. But today we get to hear from God Himself as He gives to Moses His own autobiography. Here He introduces Himself by stating His name and His occupation as God. He states His primary character traits, thus framing what our relationship with Him is going to be like. This is a primary passage of Scripture, meaning other biblical authors make reference to it later on in their writings. Let’s find out what God says about Himself.
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20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly

20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly

Over 175 million people in the United States need some sort of vision correction. From glasses to contacts and corneal reshaping to corrective surgery, there's no question that seeing clearly improves people's quality of life. But what about our spiritual vision? With so many religious, philosophical, and ideological lenses to look through, how do we find the right lens? In this series, Skip Heitzig brings the core doctrines of Christian faith into clear focus. These are the truths that define who God is, who we are, and the choices that every person has to make.

Outline

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  1. His Designation (vv. 5-6a)

    1. The Statement of His Name

    2. The Significance of His Name

  2. His Description (vv. 6b-7)

    1. Benevolent Attributes

    2. Bountiful Attributes

    3. Balanced Attributes

  3. His Expectation (vv. 8-9)

Study Guide

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Connect Recap Notes: July 12, 2020
Teacher: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "Hello, I'm God!"
Text: Exodus 34:5-9

Path

People have written and spoken about God for millennia. It's what I have done for nearly four decades. But today we get to hear from God Himself as He gives to Moses His own autobiography. Here He introduces Himself by stating His name and His occupation as God. He states His primary character traits, thus framing what our relationship with Him is going to be like. This is a primary passage of Scripture, meaning other biblical authors make reference to it later on in their writings. Let's find out what God says about Himself.
  1. His Designation (vv. 5-6a)
    1. The Statement of His Name
    2. The Significance of His Name
  2. His Description (vv. 6b-7)
    1. Benevolent Attributes
    2. Bountiful Attributes
    3. Balanced Attributes
Points

His Designation (vv. 5-6a)
  • The Statement of His Name
  • To become acquainted with someone, we must meet them personally, and the best way to get to know someone is to ask them about themselves.
  • He went up the mountain to seek God and to see God's glory, but God had to descend to meet Moses. Heaven must first make contact with Earth for us to grasp God.
  • God answered Moses by proclaiming His name, "The Lord, the Lord God" (v. 6a). In Hebrew, it's "Yahweh, Yahweh El." God repeated His name to emphasize His Person and power, assuring Moses He is the same God at the burning bush.
  • The Significance of His Name
  • El is a generic word for God, a Semitic term for gods in general. Yahweh is specific, meaning, "I Am."
  • Yahweh is self-existent, dependent on nothing and no one. Yahweh is eternal and active, identifying God's character and authority. God is always in the present, involved with the world. Yahweh is transliterated as YHWH. The Hebrews didn't want to abuse God's name, so they inserted Adonai, or "Lord." God's name is connected to His reputation, nature, and attributes.
His Description (vv. 6b-7)
  • Benevolent Attributes
  • God is merciful. The Hebrew root for merciful refers to a mother's womb—the relationship between a parent and child.
  • God is gracious, a term used to describe Him thirteen times in the Old Testament. God's favor for us is a result of His grace. Justice is what you deserve; mercy is not getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you don't deserve.
  • God is slow to anger; it takes time for Him to get angry, and His anger is grounded in His holy, perfect character.
  • Bountiful Attributes
  • Abounding in goodness: God is good all the time. The Hebrew word is chesed, which refers to loyalty in human terms. When applied to God's character, it refers to His constant, unchanging love.
  • Abounding in truth: God is firm, certain, reliable, and dependable. We can depend on God's character, promises, and warnings.
  • Balanced Attributes
  • "Keeping mercy for thousands" (v. 7); God loves the world, and forgives the transgression of sin.
  • "By no means clearing the guilty" (v. 7); God is merciful and delights in forgiveness, but He cannot annul justice. God doesn't forgive unrepentant sinners; He provides forgiveness in Jesus Christ.
  • "Visiting the iniquity" (v. 7); God won't punish children for their parents' sins. However, God won't erase the natural consequences of sin. Many children and grandchildren experience the consequences of sin which may last for several generations, but God's mercy extends to thousands of generations.
  • Moses worshiped God in response to God's character (vv. 8-9). We should worship God based upon who He is, as Moses did. Good theology is the foundation for true worship.
Practice

Connect Up: Why is it important to know the characteristics of God? How do they reveal who He is to us personally? Discuss the following important characteristics: God is self-existing (infinite); He never changes (immutable); He has no needs (self-sufficient); God is all-powerful (omnipotent); God is all-knowing (omniscient); God is always everywhere (omnipresent); He is full of perfect, unchanging wisdom (wise); God is infinitely, unchangingly true (faithful); He is infinitely kind and full of good will (good); He is right and perfect in all He does (just); He is compassionate and kind (merciful); God is inclined to spare the guilty (gracious); God loves us infinitely (loving); He is unchangingly perfect (holy); God is infinitely beautiful and great (glorious).

Connect In: Of the above attributes, which ones have impacted you the most? Share a time when God showed Himself to you in a real way through one of His characteristics. When God reminds you of one of His attributes, what is your response? What can happen to our faith when we lose sight of God's character and attributes?

Connect Out: Knowing that God is gracious, longsuffering, merciful, and loving, what does that tell you about what your heart should be toward unbelievers? Take time to pray for your loved ones that need to know the Savior's love.

Transcript

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Hello, I'm God! - Exodus 34:5-9 - Skip Heitzig

[MUSIC PLAYING]

There is no God. I mean, look at what's going on.

I am my own god.

God, Allah, Buddha, whatever.

He's just waiting to destroy us all.

There's hundreds of gods. It's just like that bumper sticker says--

I am my own god.

--dog is my copilot.

There is no God.

There is one true God. He's all knowing, all powerful, and he loves you.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

God isn't really something to worship.

He's just waiting to destroy all of us.

I guess there's a God out there somewhere.

I hope there is a God.

God isn't really something to worship.

God, Allah, Buddha.

God is everywhere.

Hey, it's great to be with you this weekend. This is a special service in and of itself. We are doing a live capture. So if you're on our website and you want to see what the weekend message is, you're seeing this.

And that is because we thought it would be really good to speak directly to you. Instead of just bringing the canned service that we have live every weekend, we wanted to do a special online service. Because we realize a lot of people not only locally are viewing this from their homes or devices, but also around the country and around the world.

And we want to welcome you. We invite you here. We would love to be able to minister to you beyond this. That's why we have live chat. We have pastors who are available. We can pray for you. But we want to welcome you to our service. And welcome to you, our little in studio audience that we have here.

We're in a very special passage of scripture-- the book of Exodus, chapter 34. So get your Bibles out and turn to that passage-- Exodus, chapter 34-- as we look at a few versus. Before we do, let me read to you what an eight-year-old-- so this a third grader-- wrote about God. He was given the formidable task of explaining God.

And so he wrote this paragraph. "One of God's main jobs is making people. He makes these to replace the ones that die, so that there will be enough people to take care of things here on Earth. He doesn't make grown-ups, just babies. I think that's because they're smaller and easier to make, that way he doesn't take up all of his valuable time teaching them to walk and talk. He can just leave that up to the mothers and fathers.

God's second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, as some people, like preachers and things, like to pray at other times besides bedtime. God doesn't have time to listen to the radio or TV on account of this. As he hears everything-- not only prayers-- there must be a terrible lot of noise going into his ears, unless he has thought of a way to turn it off."

That's one eight-year-old boy's description of God. But we come to a passage of scripture in Exodus, chapter 34 where one of those people talking to God in prayer-- making noise, if you will-- before the throne of God is a man by the name of Moses. And he has a very intimate experience with God.

He has been talking to God through the last couple of chapters. He asked God to be able to see his glory. And then God speaks to him and reveals, proclaims who he is to Moses. And we're going to look at Exodus 34.

We're going to begin in verse 5 where it says, "the Lord descended in a cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, "the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and children's children to the third and fourth generation." So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped."

I remember the night I met my wife at a friend's apartment in Southern California. I saw her from across the room. She happened to be wearing white jeans, like I am. And she was wearing a red blouse. And I noticed her, and then she walked up to me. And she put her hand out and shook my hand and said, hi, I'm Lenya.

That was my first recollection of her. And then I turned and ran away. No, I didn't I. I was struck by the fact that this girl had a powerful handshake and was confident enough to just walk up and introduce herself.

So we had a little bit of a conversation-- not long. But I called her roommate to ask questions about her-- what's she like, tell me a little bit about her story. But then she gave me her telephone number. And I called her up directly, and I asked her on our first date.

And on that first date, she told me about her background. She told me about her upbringing. She told me about her conversion. She told me about her hopes and her dreams, her wishes. And I started there a long and lasting and very satisfying relationship with this woman, Lenya Farley, who is now Lenya Heitzig.

Now to get acquainted with someone, you can do a couple of things. You can ask other people about that person-- but they'll only be able to tell you so much-- or you can ask that person directly and get firsthand knowledge from the person himself or herself about who they are. And essentially, that is what Moses does. The best way to get to know God is to go directly to God and hear from God what he says about himself.

A lot of times we get secondhand knowledge. We read authors who write about God. And we understand who God is from their interpretation of things. Or, we listen to musicians who write songs about God. And we get ideas about God from different musical artists. But the best way is to get it directly from God himself, as Moses does here.

Now Moses has asked God to be able to see his glory. God, I want to see your glory. We covered that last time we were together. And God said, well, no man can see my face and live. You die. Like we talked about the bug zapper, you would get too close and you wouldn't be able to handle it.

So God answers Moses' request not with an appearance, but with attributes-- with a list of attributes, with a theology, if you will. He wants to see something dramatic, but God gives him words-- 51 words-- that describe who God is.

Now in verse 5 it says, "the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the name of the Lord." I just want you to get this part. Moses goes up to the mountain to meet with God, but God still has to come down. He still has to descend. No matter how high Moses goes, God still has to come down, has to condescend, has to bow down.

And it's the same with us. No matter how high we reach, earth can never make contact with heaven unless heaven first makes contact with Earth. God has to reveal himself to us, or people will never be able to reach out and grab God. Now the ultimate form of this bowing down, this condescending, this coming down is in the presence of Jesus Christ-- the incarnation, the person of Jesus. God stepped out of heaven in the person of Jesus and came down to our level.

So the passage that we are considering here happens to be one of the most important passages in all of scripture when it comes to knowing God or finding out who God is. Now unfortunately, it's not that important to a lot of Christians that I know, or even a lot of theologians. But people in the Bible, themselves, thought this was an important passage.

Let me give you an example of how often it is repeated. Moses will remind God of this incident when he intercedes for the children of Israel after they failed to enter the land in Numbers 14. Moses is going to bring up this time that God revealed himself. Nehemiah will pull truths out of this passage when he confesses the sin of the nation in Nehemiah chapter 9.

Jeremiah will quote this passage when he is praying to God facing the captivity in Babylon in Jeremiah 32. David will make reference to this passage in Psalm 103 and Psalm 145. And the prophets Joel and Jonah knew this passage by heart because they quote it freely. Shades of this passage also appear in Deuteronomy chapter 5, 1 Kings Chapter 3, Lamentations chapter 3, Daniel chapter 9, and Nahum chapter 3.

All of that to say this, the biblical authors clearly saw Exodus 34 as the foundational statement about God. So here we are looking at it. And we have basically two aspects of God's personality-- his designation-- who he says he is-- and then his description-- what he says about himself.

So we begin with his designation. And that's how God begins, he names himself. It says in verse 6, "the Lord passed before him and proclaimed," and then quote, God says, "the Lord, the Lord God." He gives his name twice. He says, "the Lord, the Lord God."

Now this is typical. When you meet somebody, the first thing you ask them for is their name, or you walk up like Lenya did and say, hi, I'm Lenya. That's what God does. Hi, I'm God. I am Yahweh, Yahweh. Notice he mentions it twice-- Yahweh, Yahweh. El is the Hebrew-- Yahweh, Yahweh, El. It's the only place in scripture where this precise formula is used.

Now a couple things about language. The term El is the generic term for God. And it is a generic term in the Old Testament. It's a Semitic word for God-- a very common word. Even a word that describes gods of other nations are called El. But Yahweh is specific. And Yahweh means I am.

Do you remember? It was the name that God used when he introduced himself to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus chapter 3. Moses said, OK, you want me to go to the children of Israel. They're going to say, what's God's name? Who sent you? And God said this, "I am who I am." And he said, "thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I am has sent me to you. This is my name forever."

Now why does God repeat it twice? He didn't just say, Yahweh. He goes, Yahweh, Yahweh, El. He is simply saying to Moses-- the repetition is to remind him that the God who spoke to him in Exodus 3 is the same God who was speaking to him right then and there. He's just emphasizing it's one and the same. It's not two different beings.

I am-- those words-- it's the first person form of the Hebrew verb hayah, which means to be. And Yahweh is the third person form of that verb. What does it mean? It simply means the self-existent one-- translated here, I am that I am. In other words, I don't depend on anybody else.

The fact that God uses this term sets him apart, because it reveals that God is the only noncontingent being in the universe. That is, he doesn't depend on anybody else for his existence. Everybody else depends on him for their existence. So I am that I am. I am the self-existent one.

And the name refers to his eternal nature. It's not, I was. God's not the great I used to be. He is the great I am. It's present tense. He has an eternal nature. It's always in the present tense.

And it also refers to his active existence. That is, these verses show us that God is involved with humanity. God is not detached. God is not aloof. God is not sitting back and twiddling his thumbs or snoring and not paying attention. He is involved. That's what it says in the book of Hebrews. "He who comes to God must first believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him."

Now whenever you see in your Bible the word-- like you see here-- LORD all in capitals-- L-O-R-D-- know that that's a special word, a special designation represented in Hebrew by four consonants that we would translate as Y-H-W-H. And so we call his name Yahweh, Yahweh.

Now the thing is, the Israelites lost touch with how the name of God was pronounced, because they thought it was better to avoid using the name of God than ever be caught abusing the name of God. So they just stopped using Yahweh altogether. And whenever the word came up in the language, they substituted it with the word Adonai, which is Lord, because they didn't even want to say the name of God. But probably the best pronunciation of God's name-- his name forever-- is Yahweh. So he goes, hi, I'm God. I'm Yahweh.

Now in the Bible, a person's name is far more than just an identity tag-- like your teacher finds out the names of all the kids in class so he or she can distinguish who is who. It's far more than that. In the Bible, a name designates a reputation. When you talk about the name of the Lord, it's the reputation, character, and authority of the Lord.

Now here's where you need to understand a little bit of the Hebrew background. Hebrews believed there was a connection between a person's name and a person's nature. Whenever they were named was often brought to bear with their character and their nature. And by the way, experts today even seem to agree with that.

One psychologist studied 15,000 juvenile delinquents and discovered that those delinquents with odd or embarrassing names got into trouble four times as much as other children who had more normal names. Interesting, isn't it? Johnny Cash used to sing A Boy Named Sue-- "life ain't easy for a boy named Sue." You learn how to fight with that name.

Now some people have gotten really weird names. For example-- and these are some real names that people were given-- one girl who had the last name Turner was given the first name Paige-- Paige Turner. If a book is really good, it's a Paige Turner. And she had to live with that. And then Tolstoy wrote a novel called War and Peace. And so the Piece family named their son Warren Piece-- a real name. And then get this one-- Chris B. Bacon. I don't know if that was Kevin Bacon who did that or whatever. But somebody named their kid Chris B. Bacon.

Now back to the Bible. When parents named their kids, they often named their children with hopes that their child would live up to the name. So Judah means praise. The hope is, this child will live to praise God. Samuel means God hears. The idea is that this child will call on Yahweh-- call on God-- and God will hear his prayers.

Sometimes kids were named based on the circumstances of their birth. So for example, Esau means hairy. And it's because when he was born, he was hairy and red. And they said, call him hairy. And then his brother came out grabbing his heel. And so he was given the name Yakov-- Jacob-- which means one who trips or grabs the heels-- heel-catcher. He was given that name.

Some people got a real raw deal when they were born. For instance, the wife of Phineas the priest, because the Ark of the Covenant had been taken away, named her child Ichabod, which means the glory has departed. Imagine having to introduce yourself your whole life-- hi, my name is the glory has departed. You're a real downer at all the parties. So that's God's designation-- Yahweh, Yahweh, El-- God the Lord.

Now let's look at a description. And God lists several different attributes that describe what he is like. And I have given three categories to this-- benevolent attributes, bountiful attributes, and balanced attributes of God.

First of all, benevolent attributes-- God says, he is merciful. Some modern translations translate it compassionate. The Hebrew root word is a mother's womb, because it describes the feeling of a superior being-- somebody with the ability to help-- towards somebody who is an inferior being-- somebody who is helpless-- like a parent would look upon a child. And so David, in Psalm 103, says, "just as a father has compassion-- same word, or mercy-- on his children, so Yahweh has compassion on those who fear him."

I remember when I was a dad for the first time and only time. My son, Nate, is here in the studio here. And I remember holding him as a little baby. And it just hit me like a ton of bricks, I'm a dad. This child depends on me. How am I going to be able to love a baby? I mean, it was just all foreign to me. But something miraculously happens when you have kids. God fills you with the ability to love unconditionally and have great compassion.

And I recall, one time my wife Lenya and I were eating in a restaurant locally. Nate was in this really rickety highchair that they often have in restaurants. And he was moving kind of like this. And he arched too far backwards, and he went all the way on his back and hit his head on a wood floor. And his eyes rolled up in his head, which explains a lot the way he is today. I'm just kidding.

But I just remembered this surge of emotion, compassion, mercy, wanting to help somebody who I knew was helpless. So God looks upon his people like parents do their children. He knows our limitations. As David said, "he knows our frail frame and remembers that we are dust." So isn't it interesting? God chooses mercy or compassion as item number one.

Second, he says he was gracious-- a word that is found 13 times in the Old Testament. And this speaks of a stronger person helping a weaker person. Almost always, the word uses God as the subject. In Genesis 33, when Jacob tries to explain to his brother Esau all the kids he has and all the property that has increased on his behalf, he says, "because God has dealt graciously with me." And in 2 Samuel chapter 2, David prays and fasts for his son who is sick and near to death. And he says, "who knows, perhaps Yahweh may be gracious to me."

So this theme of God's grace is prominent throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. But its most prominent in the New Testament. As the book of John says, "for the law came by Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."

Charles Ryrie puts it this way, "Christianity is distinct from all other religions because it is a message of grace. Jesus Christ is the supreme revelation of God's grace. Salvation is by grace, and grace governs and empowers Christian living. Without grace," says Ryrie, "Christianity is nothing." So because God is gracious, it means God treats you well-- not because you are strong, not because you are deserving. He treats you well because you are not strong and you are not deserving. That's the idea of God's grace toward us.

And it's always important, when you deal with mercy and grace like this, to bring up a third quality. And that is justice. Because to compare them, helps you understand them. You see, justice is getting what you deserve. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. And grace is getting something you don't deserve. Both grace and mercy have nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with justice. Justice is fair. Grace and mercy are not fair.

So for example, you're going down the street. And you hit the accelerator, and you go 10, 15, 20, 25 miles over the speed limit. You get pulled over by a police officer. He writes you a ticket because you deserve it. What is that? That's justice. That's fairness.

But let's say he says, you know what? You were going 25 miles over the speed limit. You deserve a ticket, but I'm not going to write you a ticket. That's mercy. That's not getting what you deserve.

But what if the police officer said, I'm writing you a ticket because you deserve it. And he writes you the ticket. Then he pulls it back and he says, I'm going to pay it for you. That's grace. It'll never happen, by the way, on this earth. But that would be grace.

God is merciful. God is gracious. And then God also says-- the next word is long-suffering. Some translations put it slow to anger. In other words, God doesn't fly off the handle. God never needs anger management classes.

But get this, the Hebrew word for long-suffering or slow to anger literally is long-nosed-- long-nosed-- because the idea is when a person gets angry his face turns red. And his nose, if he's really angry, looks like it's burning. So the idea of having a long nose is that it takes a long time to show anger. So the idea behind the word is so descriptive it's as if God takes a deep breath as he deals with sin. He doesn't act immediately.

Now the Bible reveals God has a legit basis for anger. And that's grounded in his holy, perfect character. And there will be a day when he will judge the world. People will stand before God at the great white throne judgment. And God will completely give vent to his anger at that judgment.

People will be judged, but he's not in a hurry to do that. His anger is kindled very slowly. He's not up in heaven with a celestial fly swatter waiting for you to do something wrong. As Peter put it, "God is not wanting anyone to perish, but all to come to repentance." So slow to getting angry.

So those are his benevolent attributes. But he goes on and gives us more. I'm calling them his bountiful attributes because notice what he says, "the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and-- here they are-- abounding in goodness and truth."

Now we have a saying in the church. A lot of churches have the saying for many years-- God is good all the time, all the time God is good. But to say God is abundant in goodness is to say he never runs out and there's always plenty for you. He never runs out, and there's always enough for you.

The word here, goodness, is a Hebrew word I want you to know. It's the word chesed, chesed. It is sometimes translated mercy, sometimes translated love, sometimes translated enduring love, sometimes translated loving kindness. In human terms, it describes a person who is loyal.

When we apply it to God, it speaks of his constant, unchanging love based upon a covenant that he makes. So for example, in ancient times, a King was expected to show chesed to the people he had a covenant with-- whether it was his own people or a conquered people. He was expected to treat that person favorably.

Now here's my favorite memory with the word chesed. A couple of years ago, I was sitting in the office of the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem. And we were talking about Jesus. And he said he'd been reading a lot about Jesus. And he said, he goes, I find that Jesus displayed an enormous, inordinate amount of-- and then he tried to think of a word. He said to his aide, chesed, chesed. And I knew what that was. And I said, loving kindness. He goes, yes, loving kindness.

I don't know many Hebrew words. It happens to be one I know. So I got it right on the test. He says, yeah, that's right. It means loving kindness. Jesus exhibited an inordinate amount of loving kindness. So he says he abounds in that kind of love. Did you know that there was somebody in the Bible who was actually mad at God for this loving kindness?

Jonah.

Jonah, exactly. He actually got mad at God. He ran to flee from the presence of the Lord. And when God called him to account, Jonah said this, "I fled previously to Tarshish-- now listen to his words, he's quoting this passage-- for I know that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness."

Wow. God's slow to anger, Jonah's quick to anger. God's merciful, Jonah is mafioso. God had loving kindness, Jonah lacked kindness. Not a really great representative of God-- which begs the question, how do you represent God? When people look at you, do people see a resemblance of this true nature of God?

I was reading an article sometime back. And I read another one just the other day-- just today, in fact-- about the South Pole. Did you know that the healthiest place in the world to live is the South Pole? It is. It's the healthiest. There's no pollution. There there's no dust there. There are no germs there. It's too stinking cold. It gets to 100 degrees below 0-- hello.

But an article I read today said, Antarctica is the one continent untouched by the coronavirus. Of course, they've been doing social distancing for a long time. That's the ultimate social distancing-- Antarctica. But here's the question, why aren't people eager to live there if it's the healthiest place? Only 4,000 people do actually live there. Easy answer-- it's too stinking cold.

There's some people who are like that. They are clean. They are right. They are antiseptic. They know God's truth. Error can't live in their vicinity. But they are cold-hearted like Jonah, hard to live with. God is abundant in loving kindness. That's a bountiful attribute.

Not only that, but he says-- after abounding in goodness, it says and truth. In other words, and he abounds in truth. The basic idea of truth is certainty. The idea is simple, that God is reliable. God is dependable. God is true. You can depend on God's character. You can depend on God's promises. You can depend on God's warnings. God keeps his word.

I have a friend that for years-- and I wouldn't tell you who it is-- but a friend that we nicknamed pencil. And we had nicknames for each other in this little, small group of friends. And we nicknamed my friend pencil because he would say he will be there on a certain day at a certain time, but you'd always have to pencil it in your calendar because it would change. Yeah, that's pencil. He said that, but he may not be able to do that.

So God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He abounds in the truth. Why is this important? Because it gives us certainty. In Islam, there is a doctrine called abrogation. That is, God changes his mind. And it's summed up in the Arabic words, [SPEAKING ARABIC].

The idea is that God may say something today, change his mind tomorrow, and then change it again later on so his revelations will be different and even contradictory. How different that is from the Jesus that we serve who said, "heaven and earth will pass away, my words will never pass away." You can count on what God says. He is abounding in truth.

So we have his benevolent attributes, his bountiful attributes, which is followed by his balanced attributes. I want you to notice the last verse that we look at-- verse 7. "Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin-- but get this-- by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and children's children to the third and fourth generation."

Let me unpack that as we close this out. "Keeping mercy for thousands." Dwell on that for a moment. "Keeping mercy for thousands." Now the word he uses here for mercy is the word, again, chesed. Which begs the question, why does he repeat himself? Why do he use the same word? Because he said, Moses, I'm abundant in loving kindness, but I want you to know that I keep loving kindness or mercy or chesed love for generations. In other words, it's not just for you, Moses.

Moses, I want you to look into the future, and I want you to consider your descendants-- future generations. I'm going to be there for them as well. My mercy is for thousands. So like the most famous verse in the Bible says, "for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son."

So God's love is for the African, for the South American, for the European, for the Middle Easterner, for the Australian, for everyone. He keeps mercy for thousands. And the implication is thousands of generations in the original.

So God keeps mercy for thousands of generations. And it's followed by, "forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin." In other words, God loves to forgive. He loves to forgive. He lists three kinds of infractions here. He sums it all up-- "inequity, transgression, and sin." Whatever you got going on-- whether it's a little one or a big sin-- God's got you covered. And God loves to forgive sin. That's why the first thing he said on the cross, "Father, forgive them, they don't know what they are doing."

So not only is God slow to get angry over sin, but he's ready to pardon sin once you do it. All said, God has a very big eraser. "Forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin." Then, here's the switch. Here's the balance when I said balance attribute. "But by no means clearing the guilty." Now he flips the coin on God's bountiful love.

So though God traffics in mercy and though God delights in forgiveness, God cannot annul his justice. At some point, he has to step in and deal with the infraction, deal with the sin. What does this mean? It simply means God will never forgive unrepentant sinners. God loves to forgive. God has provided a way. But if you refuse the way that God has provided, then God is left with this judgment. "By no means clearing the guilty."

So either Jesus will be punished for your sins, or you will be punished for your sins. You take your pick. God is saying, I'll make you a deal. You never have to pay for your sins. I'll let Jesus take them all and wash your sins away. If you refuse that, then they're going to lay squarely on you. You will stand before my great white throne judgment to be forever banished because you refused to take my solution for you.

So yes, he keeps mercy for thousands. Yes, he forgives iniquity, transgression, and sins, but by no means clearing the guilty. And not only that, but he goes on to say, "visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children." And this bothers a lot of people. And a lot of people have been mistaken over what this means.

What does this mean? Let me tell you what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean that God will punish your kids and grandkids for their parent's sin. That's abundantly clear in Ezekiel chapter 18, because they were saying that we've eaten sour grapes and the children are going to pay for it. What it does mean is that God will not erase the natural consequences of sin.

So for example, if a guy gets drunk and walks out in traffic and breaks his leg or loses a leg. If that person comes to Christ, will the leg grow back? No, he will suffer the consequence of the sin that he had committed. If a drug addict receives Jesus Christ, God will forgive him, clear his name from the eternal record, but not necessarily reverse the damage done by the drug. It could be brain damage. It could be that he loses his health.

And it's true that many children and grandchildren have had to experience consequences second hand because of a parent's decision-- maybe loss of a parent, or distance from a parent, or the abuse of a parent. But here's what I want you to notice. It says in verse 7, he'll visit the iniquity upon the children's children to the third and fourth generation. But notice he says, "keeping mercy for thousands."

OK, go back to that and compare those two. He'll keep mercy for thousands of generations. But up to the third and fourth generations will those-- so God's mercy, once again, far extends even the natural consequences of sin. Which means wherever you are, whatever family you grew up in, whatever bad background you come from, you can break that habit. You can break that pattern of abuse or that pattern of sin right now so that your children and children's children will get the blessing.

So God reveals himself. Hi, I'm God, Yahweh, Yahweh, El. My name, my character, my reputation-- here's what I am like. Here are my attributes-- my benevolent attributes, my bountiful attributes, but my balanced attributes. And then once again, verse 8-- we looked at this last time, but look at it again. "Moses made haste-- that is he hurried-- and he bowed his head toward the earth and he worshiped."

Listen to this. This is Moses responding to a theology lesson-- worship. All teaching of the Bible should lead to this. All teaching of the scriptures, all teaching of theology should lead to this. Good theology is the foundation and impetus for true worship.

That's why I tell worship leaders every time I get a chance, make sure your songs are filled with good theology. Most all the hymns are packed full of great theology. Why? Because good theology is the foundation for true worship. God gave him a theology lesson all about his attributes, Moses responded by worship.

That's why we close a service with a song. We don't do it because it's a bookend. We don't do it because it's an artistic punctuation point. We close a service with song because we're giving us-- you-- a chance now to respond to what you have heard. And based upon what you have learned to then, like Moses, make haste, worship God-- which is the fitting response. So let's pray, and we'll do that.

Father, we come before you, and we thank you for your love for us. You are abundant in your love. You make a covenant with us, and then you just keep pouring it out. And there's always enough for us. You are anxious to forgive.

But in the end, it's going to come down to, will we let Jesus take the punishment for our sin, or will we take our chances and stand before a holy God at the great white throne only to hear the gavel go down and the words guilty proclaimed. And then we have to bear those sins that we have committed-- our own rebellion-- for eternity. You provided a way. And that way is through Jesus. And I pray, Lord, that many more will say yes to him.

Now I want to give you that opportunity. You're watching on your screen, you're watching by television, you're looking at your iPad or your little phone, you're seeing this online, and maybe you realize you don't know God yet. You don't know this God yet. And God has introduced himself and said, hi, I'm God. This is what I'm like. I'm ready to forgive. I'm ready to love. But I'm also ready, if you reject me, to let you bear your own sin.

That's the deal. You can have one or the other. I'm imploring you to take the first. That's good thinking. And if you want to do that, you want to give your life to Jesus Christ, then I want to ask you to say this prayer right where you're at right after me. I'm going to say it out loud. I'm going to ask you to say it right where you're at out loud. And say these words in faith to God.

Say, Lord, I know I'm a sinner, please forgive me. I believe in Jesus. I believe he died for my sins. I'm sorry for my sins. Forgive me. I believe Jesus died and rose from the dead. And so today, at this moment, I turn from my sin. I turn from my past. I turn my life-- all of it, all of me, past, present and future. I give it to you, you who made me. I want to follow you today and every day. I leave my sins behind. I repent of my sins. I follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. Help me to do that. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Now if you prayed that prayer, I want you to text the words saved to area code 505-509-5433. Once again, text the word saved-- S-A-V-E-D-- to 505-509-5433. If you're watching on your computer and you're on the website-- calvarynm.church-- right up in the right-hand corner is a little button that says Know God. Just click on that button, there's going to be somebody who will answer you and give you information of what to do next.

But all of us have a next step to take. And if you've given your life to Jesus, congratulations. Welcome to God's family. Amen. We want to welcome you. But now we respond to what we have just heard in worship.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Additional Messages in this Series

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6/14/2020
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Seeing Truth Clearly
2 Timothy 4:1-8
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Hiram Johnson said, "The first casualty in war is truth." God’s people have been in a cosmic battle since the fall. Satan’s first allegation against truth was in Genesis 3:1: "Has God indeed said...?" Deception regarding truth is Satan's primary occupation. We now live in what might be dubbed a post-truth culture wherein the very idea of absolute truth is considered archaic and even offensive. In this series, we will look to the "Scripture of Truth" (Daniel 10:21) to reinforce our foundation and engender biblical literacy. Here at the end of Paul's life, he could foresee the abandonment of truth, and he gave Timothy this antidote: "Preach the Word!"
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6/21/2020
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Seeing God as Father
Luke 11:2
Skip Heitzig
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God is presented in Scripture by a variety of images. He is called our Rock, our Refuge, our Warrior, our Shepherd, our Shield, our Hiding Place, our Redeemer, our Fountain, our Husband, and our Vinedresser. But no motif is as powerful and personal as seeing God as our Father. With this title, the invisible God becomes the intimate God. Today, on Father’s Day, we consider the singular phrase "Our Father in heaven" as an introduction to the doctrine of God. Let’s turn over each word and mine the depths of the riches contained in this great verse.
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6/28/2020
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How Can I Relate to God?
Exodus 32-34
Skip Heitzig
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The subject of God is the loftiest of all themes and the pinnacle of all pursuits. For some people, the idea of God is absurd because He is not readily perceived by the senses, like a flower or another person. But as we learn who God is and how perceptible He is to us, I think we’ll be both lifted up and humbled all at the same time. Today we trace the journey that every person must take who wants to relate to the God of the universe. Let’s examine five stages of this relationship.
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7/5/2020
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Biblical History: Fact or Fancy?
Dr. Steven Collins
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Dr. Steven Collins serves as the dean of the College of Archaeology at Veritas International University and a consulting research professor at Trinity Southwest University. He is also the director of the Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project in Jordan, which is believed to be the location of Sodom.
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7/19/2020
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Knowing the God Who Knows You
Psalm 139:1-6, 23-24
Skip Heitzig
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A person with knowledge can be intimidating. They spew facts and figures and can dizzy us with information and understanding. But rightly seen, a study of God’s comprehensive knowledge can be a source of great comfort to us. In this series, 20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly, we come to grips with the fact that God sees everything most clearly. His knowledge is vast, infinite, comprehensive, specific, and personal. But let’s observe how God’s omniscience can become inspiring rather than intimidating.
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7/26/2020
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Here, There, and Everywhere
Psalm 139:7-12
Skip Heitzig
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One of the Beatles’ most melodic hits expressed a couple’s romantic desire to be together at all times and in all places and was simply titled, “Here, There and Everywhere.” This title also expresses a unique attribute of God (what theologians call an incommunicable attribute). He is everywhere present in the totality of His being! This may be one of the hardest-to-understand characteristics of God, but one that brings great comfort to us.
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8/2/2020
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The Unrivaled Power of God
Psalm 139:13-18
Skip Heitzig
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God is called Almighty fifty-seven times in Scripture. It means that the resources of His power are boundless. He is unlimited in His ability and unconstrained in His capacity. God’s attribute of omnipotence is helpful for us to remember when we are feeling overwhelmed with threatening circumstances. Just as we feel confident when our mobile devices have plenty of battery power to spare, we can live confidently knowing that our great God has power for any of our problems.
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8/9/2020
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Holy, Holy, Holy!
Isaiah 6:1-8
Skip Heitzig
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Holiness sounds scary. Thoughts of dusty, cloistered halls of a monastery fill our minds when we hear the word. We might think of chants and long prayers rather than anthems and short prayers. It hardly seems like an appropriate word for the twenty-first century! But according to one theologian, God’s holiness is the one attribute that binds all His other attributes together. This is the characteristic that most uniquely describes God. Let’s consider it today.
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8/16/2020
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One Plus One Plus One Equals One?
John 14:1-18
Skip Heitzig
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One of the most fundamental yet challenging truths in Scripture is the doctrine of the Trinity. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Try to explain it and you might lose your mind, but try to explain it away and you might lose your soul. The Bible openly teaches the plurality within the Godhead—three persons who are distinct from one another yet perfectly One in essence. How are we to think about this? And how should it affect us personally?
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8/23/2020
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Pain: God’s Biggest Problem
John 9:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Perhaps the biggest impediment to believing in God (as stated by those who don’t) is the presence of pain and suffering in the world. How can there be a God who is benevolent and omnipotent with the sheer volume of grief, misery, travail, and torment at any given moment? Today we explore the theme of a loving God in a universe pockmarked by pain. As Jesus was in Jerusalem with His disciples, they came across a blind man. I’d like to show you four features of this most common and universal of human experiences.
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8/30/2020
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Christ Jesus Our Lord
Philippians 2:5-11
Skip Heitzig
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At the very center of history’s stage stands Jesus Christ. He has no peers. The Father in heaven sent Him on the mission of redemption and He humbly surrendered. When it was accomplished, He conquered death itself by resurrection and returned to glory. In what is considered by many to be the greatest single statement about Jesus Christ in the New Testament, Paul succinctly framed His humiliation, His exaltation, and His example to us.
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9/6/2020
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The Atonement: His Death, Our Life
John 12:20-33
Skip Heitzig
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Wasn’t there any other way for God to save human beings than by sending His Son to die? The very idea of a bloody crucifixion sounds brutal and barbarous to some, yet it is the centerpiece of our faith. What is the big deal about the atonement? Why the cross? Why had it been the plan of God through the ages? Today we examine the death of Christ for us and, in His own words, His own estimation of its necessity and consequence.
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9/13/2020
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He’s Alive! Proofs of the Resurrection
1 Corinthians 15:3-8
Skip Heitzig
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Just as your own heart is the pump that brings life-giving blood to your entire body, so is the resurrection of Jesus that gives life to the gospel message. Without it, our faith would be totally useless; our message would be utterly powerless. The resurrection is also what separates Jesus Christ from every other spiritual leader and would-be messiah. It validates His teaching. It authenticates His claims. It substantiates His promises. And it corroborates our confidence in Him as our Savior and Lord.
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9/20/2020
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The Holy Spirit in the World
John 16:5-11
Skip Heitzig
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We are not alone in the universe! That’s the premise of most sci-fi documentaries, but I’m not referring to alien life from another galaxy, rather to the living God Himself. In particular, I am referring to the Holy Spirit. He has a particular role when it comes to working in this world, and that is to awaken people to their great need for Christ. In our series 20/20: Seeing Truth Clearly, we will turn in the next few weeks to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. What is His role in the life of the unbeliever and the life of the believer?
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10/11/2020
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Who Is the Holy Spirit?
John 16
Nate Heitzig
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There can be a lot of mystery and misinformation surrounding the Holy Spirit. When we look to Scripture, however, the third person of the Godhead comes into clear focus. In this teaching, Nate Heitzig describes the person of the Holy Spirit, His work both at scale in the world and individually in the hearts of believers, and how He helps you gain a deeper understanding of God's Word.
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10/18/2020
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Help Has Arrived!
John 14:15-18
Skip Heitzig
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Someone said to me this past week, “Life is hard, but God is good!” We all know it’s true. To live for God in an ungodly world is challenging, sometimes daunting. But God never intended for us to try it alone! He has provided for us a Helper, the Holy Spirit, who is not only at work in the world around us but is very busy working inside of us. Let’s drill down into the promise Jesus gave to His disciples in the upper room about the coming Spirit.
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10/25/2020
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God’s Purpose for People
Genesis 1-3
Skip Heitzig
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After spending several weeks considering God’s nature and character, we now turn to mankind. What is the purpose of the people inhabiting this planet? How can we fulfill the God-given destiny that He originally had in mind when He placed us here? Someone once said that the two most significant days in one’s life are first, the day we were born, and second, the day we discovered what we were born for. Let’s go back to the beginning.
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11/1/2020
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The Dark Side
Romans 3:10-26
Nate Heitzig
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God created humans in His own image. But even with God's imprint in humanity, people have a dark side—a sin nature—because of Adam and Eve's rebellion. One consequence of our rebellion against God is guilt, but in today's society, many people try to minimize both sin and guilt by casting them in a deceptively benign light. In this teaching, Nate Heitzig looks at what the book of Romans has to say about our true condition and its only remedy.
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11/15/2020
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Once Dead, Now Alive!
Ephesians 2:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Of all the doctrines that adorn the New Testament, salvation is the most personal and the most transformative. Below are the various stages that every saved person goes through in coming to Christ. Today, try to remember what it was like for you when Jesus became real to you and you realized your need for Him to save you, then answer this fundamental question: How has your conversion changed your contentment?
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11/22/2020
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I’m a Christian—Now What?
Romans 8:12-17
Skip Heitzig
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Once you decide to repent from your past, say yes to Jesus Christ, and invite Him into your heart, you begin a lifelong relationship with Him. Nothing stays the same. Paul wrote, “Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT). Conversion is the gateway to transformation. Let’s consider four clear experiences that happen in the life of everyone who believes.
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There are 20 additional messages in this series.
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