God’s Mercy and Compassion

November 29, 2021

Exodus 33.12-23

12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favour with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

There is a selective nature to this statement of mercy and compassion.  There is an openness to the statement of mercy and compassion.  We hear it first in the context of Moses leading this particular group of people.  God say he will go with them and give them rest (you is plural).  And Moses responds in that same understanding of all speaking of “us”, the people with him.

God does not just go with Moses, he goes with the people.  God does not just go with the few who lead, he goes with us all.  God does not just go with those in our circles of faith, the particular portion of those who follow Jesus, he goes with us all.  He has mercy and compassion us, and so many more.  God’s mercy, his compassion, his very presence is for us all.

I find it encouraging to hear words from others as they speak of God’s presence, as they live as the presence of God with us.  People giving words of encouragement.  People sharing in the tasks of ministry.  People who quietly take their part in serving the church and the community.  People who take the lead in speaking of faith with children in different ministries. 

God is not just taking us forward in the actions and words of a few.  He uses each of us in the life of his church.  He puts us together as his people in this small place to be the church and he joins us with many others, in a variety of ways to be the church in the larger context of the world.  As we work with those who care for refugees.  As we support missionaries who build up the church.  As we take part with others in our own community and live out faith together.  God brings his mercy and compassion and it is so much bigger than a few.  He brings his presence to his people, and that presence brings us to him, and to a world filled with people on whom our God has compassion and where we can bring compassion.

Song God of Second Chances


God of Compassion and Mercy, we see that you give your presence and grace to Moses, and you still give that presence and grace to us today.  Help us to see that presence in our life today and to see that presence and grace in the life others also.  Remind us daily that you are here for us, and you are here for the people of the world around us each day also.  In the name of Christ who came for all, Amen.

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