6 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

God’s faithfulness is never up to us. What He determines, He carries out. In Exodus, in the very moment God was establishing a covenant with Israel as He spoke face to face with Moses on Mt. Sinai, Israel was down below breaking that covenant. They were creating an idol of their own and indulging in pagan revelry (Exodus 32). When Moses got wind of it, he literally broke the covenant, smashing the tablets God had written into pieces (32:19). Yet in the aftermath, when Moses climbed back up the mountain to stand in the Lord’s presence again, God assured him of His faithfulness and reaffirmed His covenant.

It’s not that God didn’t mind the sin of the Israelites; all sin is detestable to Him and requires just punishment. God sees sin as sin, and at the same time His nature is to completely forgive any sin and sinner who turns to Him. When God established the old covenant, He was already planning a new one He would bring about through Jesus’ shed blood on the cross. This was not because people got it together and started acting right, either. Our story is quite the opposite. We continued to break covenant. But God is faithful to do what He says. His covenant promises do not waver depending on the actions of humankind. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, loving us through faltering faith and forgiving us when we repent. God invites us to come to Him when we fall into sin. His compassionate and gracious nature means that we can know we will find forgiveness when we confess our sins.

• What terms used to describe God in verses 6-7 stand out to you? Why?

• How do these character traits relate to God’s willingness to forgive us?

• Thank God for His mercy and forgiveness. Thank Him for revealing His grace more fully in Jesus Christ, who died for your sins. Ask Him to strengthen you to trust His faithful love and to stand firm when tempted to doubt or to fall into sin.