What Does Glory Look Like? Exodus 33:12-23

Chesterton says that most philosophies create virtue through moderation of passions.  A person attempts to manage his personality by neither becoming too angry or too joyful.  This calm demeanor is seen as a virtue. Christianity, Chesterton argues creates virtue through a conflict between two passions. 

Exodus 34:5-9 we find these blazing opposites within the person of God Himself.  He is on the one hand, so serious about justice that He will pursue the perpetrator across three generation.  He is on the other hand so gracious that He will bless the recipients of His favor across a thousand generations.  And so the glory of God is revealed to the world in this apparent tension, that God holds sin to be absolutely sinful, and He holds sinners to be infinitely valuable.

It is this very tension that will conclude in the action of God to do the unthinkable, that action that was folly to the philosopher and irreverent to the religious.  That is the Creator would Himself enter into His creation in order to save it.  He will save His ragtag rebels by bearing upon Himself the death sentence that was rightly ours.  He will neither overlook our sin-an offence to His justice, nor overlook our doom an offence to His love. 

This is what His Glory looks like:  blazing justice, only outshone by blazing love.  God brings Moses into His confidence to reveal to Him and to us what is shocking and unexpected.  Not that He is simply all powerful.  But that the all-powerful one is merciful.  Moses’ response is the right one, as the God of blazing justice and blazing love passes by, he and we should fall to the ground and worship.  And then Moses’ hope becomes a reality: God renews His covenant with Israel forgiving her sin to demonstrate His glory to the nations.  The glory seen by Moses, will be seen by them, the glory received by Israel, has now been shared with us in the death of Messiah. The LORD so serious about justice that He could not let it go unpaid was so serious about His love for you that He would not let you stay unredeemed. Blazing Justice met blazing love, when the Holy One allowed His wrath to fall on His sinless Son to save Sinners He passionately loves. In that conflict of passions, God’s glory is revealed.

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