top of page
  • Chad Werkhoven

Exodus 33:17-34:7 - God's Scary Comforting Goodness

Is God just, or is He merciful? Yes.

Read / Listen

Read Exodus 33:12–34:7

Listen to passage & devotional:


Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 11

Q. [God won't permit sin to go unpunished...]

But isn’t God also merciful?

A. God is certainly merciful,

but he is also just.

His justice demands

that sin, committed against his supreme majesty,

be punished with the supreme penalty—

eternal punishment of body and soul.



We meet Moses in today's passage at a very low point in his life. After descending down from the ultimate mountaintop experience in which he'd been in God's presence for an extended time, he returns to find his fickle people dancing around hand made idols.

Moses speaks to God with amazing honesty, reminding God that the Israelites were His people, and almost demanding that God teach him God's ways, so that Moses might know God. Moses even flat out demands that God show Moses His glory!

Moses has already seen God unleash the plagues on Israel, open the Red Sea, speak like thunder from a mountain, along with all sorts of other miracles along the way. God would have been just in striking Moses with lightning for making such a demand asking for more glory.

But instead God lovingly complies, telling Moses that He will cause His goodness to pass in front of Moses.

What Moses learns is that God's goodness has two poles: grace, mercy and peace for those He's chosen, but justice & punishment for those who remain in their guilt.

Lest Moses (or us) thinks that somehow we're righteous enough to be in the presence of God's holy glory and goodness on our own, God places Moses in the cleft of a rock to shield him.

Who do you suppose that Rock of Ages was foreshadowing?

Dig Deeper

So many people have a warped, lopsided view of God. Some associate God as a genie in the sky dispensing goodness and blessing on anyone who asks, while others see Him only as a grouchy curmudgeon crushing people for the smallest infraction.

Yet at one of the lowest points of his life, Moses resists both of those extreme caricatures, and asks God for something very simple, yet life changingly profound. He ask God to "teach me your ways so that I may know you."

Of all the attributes God could have responded with, God shows Moses His goodness, and in His goodness God is fully merciful AND fully just.

No creature in heaven or earth can do this, but God can and did by pouring out His justice on His Son so that He could show you His amazing grace and mercy.

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The LORD, the LORD, compassionate and gracious, yet who punishes the guilty;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask God to display His glory and goodness to you (be careful, this is a dangerous thing to ask for if you're not prepared to align your life with it!!)



Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Acts 3


Questions or comments?

Recent Posts:

bottom of page