and proclaimed, “YHWH, YHWH God, compassionate, gracious, long-suffering and great in goodness Exodus 34:6
YHWH, YHWH – Do you remember doubled giving (nathan used twice – March 12)? Did you know that Isaiah uses shalom shalom to speak of “perfect” peace? In Hebrew, doubling the word calls attention to the superlative form. So, what happens when God Himself doubles His name – Yahweh Yahweh. Well, for one thing it means that we better pay very close attention to this very unusual verse. When YHWH decides to give Moses a personal introduction to His character, He starts by proclaiming His absolute and total superiority over every other existing thing in the entire universe. He is not simply God. He is THE ONLY GOD, the Mighty One, the Highest of all, the Unsurpassed, the Magnificent, the Holy One of Israel. There is none who can compare to Him. Not one!
For the children of Israel, even for Moses, this declaration is extremely important. These people were being re-educated. They just spent more than 200 years in a culture of multiple deities. They were saturated with Egyptian thinking. God needed to brainwash them clean. He started with a demonstration of His superiority over every one of the Egyptian gods (that’s what the plagues are all about). Then He exhibited His power and majesty at Sinai. Now He provides Moses with a personal announcement of His character. It is starts in BOLD type. This is the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the One and Only God of all creation. This is proclaimed, not deduced. This is direct confrontation, not inner feelings. This is overwhelming holiness.
Are you trembling yet? Are you struck numb? Are you on your face before Him? Are you afraid for your life? The sheer audacity of Moses’ request to see God’s glory is mind-boggling. Moses must have had an unconscious death wish. He had no idea what he was asking, and it was only through YHWH’s gracious protection that Moses didn’t die on the spot. But that gives us a clue about the insensitivity that 200 years of wrong-thinking produces. Even Moses didn’t really understand the terrifying nature of God’s holiness. And if Moses didn’t get it, how much less aware are we?
Take a moment out of your oh-so-important life to put yourself in Moses’ place on that day. Reflect for just a second (you have that much time, right?) what it was like to have the glory of God pass by. Imagine the power of that voice proclaiming His utter uniqueness. Push aside the seeker-friendly, “God is my best friend,” white-beard Santa Claus caricature we have come to embrace and let your soul (not your mind) tremble before His awesome majesty. Let Him invade your carefully constructed chronos calendar. You will experience nuclear soul-fission. Your world will be blown apart, demolished, devastated. You will suddenly see your own total insignificance. It’s all about Him. It has always been all about Him. It will always be all about Him.
OK, one moment is enough. Any more would kill us. But one moment is all we need to re-set the compass of our lives. Forget the 200 years of seductive preoccupation with our plans and purposes. Listen to Him proclaim, “YHWH, YHWH” – and tremble.
Topical Index: YHWH, glory, Exodus 34:6, doubled, superlative