The Biblical revelation tells us of a God who reveals himself in space and time. A God who shows great love towards his people and yet a God who is Holy. This Holy God can not bear the sight of sin and, therefore, he must deal with it so that his holy justice is vindicated. We see this throughout scripture but I want to share something of the parallels between God’s revelation at the Exodus and also at the resurrection. In both cases, the Lord only appears to his people but there are contrasts as well as continuities, at Sinai we see a great manifestation of glory but at the Resurrection we see a gentle, humble revelation of the glory of God. What is important to emphasize is that this is the God of the covenant who reveals himself.
In Exodus 34 We see the story of the reinstatement of God’s covenant with his people, this follows their act of idolatry worshipping the golden calf. God is justly angry at his people’s unfaithfulness but Moses pleads for them in response to this God is gracious to his people. It is in this context that he reveals himself to Moses in all his glory. I will look at the first ten verses of Exodus 34 and then I will reflect on the accounts of the resurrection.
34 The LORD said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2 Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. 3 No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain.”
4 So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the LORD had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. 5 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”
8 Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. 9 “Lord,” he said, “if I have found favor in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.”
10 Then the LORD said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you.
The New International Version. (2011). (Ex 34:1–10). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Here we see that Moses is to chisel out two more stones for the LORD to write his gracious commandments on. The God who was justly angry reveals himself to be a gracious God. When the Lord came down he was still veiled in the cloud no one could withstand the awesome glory of God and live but Moses is privileged to have a great personal revelation of the Lord. although the Lord emphasizes his love and compassion we must not miss the fact that at the same time he reveals his holiness. Sometimes today we get an emphasis on holiness without love or the opposite love without holiness, the Bible always speaks of the two together. Notice too that the Lord only punishes sin to the third and fourth generation of those who disobey him but blesses to the thousandth generation of those who love him. This issue of punishment to the following generations can be perplexing but in the light of the whole of the biblical revelation, we must understand this to only apply to those who continue to sin.
God promises that with his covenant he will perform wonders that no one has seen before, people will see how awesome the true and living God is. God does not act in a secret way but rather reveal himself in all his greatness and glory not only to Israel but to the watching nations.
The Resurrection: when we turn to the story of the resurrection we find accounts of divine revelation and the promise of divine power but we also find a new commandment.
Luke 24 is full of accounts of divine revelation, whether it is through the angel speaking to the women or Jesus speaking to his disciples. The well-known story about the disciples on the road to Emmaus illustrates this, even when they did not know that it was Jesus speaking to them their hearts were touched, it is only after Jesus had prayed and disappeared that they realize what has happened to them. On returning to Jerusalem these disciples recount their story and as they do so Jesus appears again and proves that it is him by the marks in his hands and feet. The next few verses record how Jesus revealed more of himself and his purposes to them.
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
The New International Version. (2011). (Lk 24:45–50). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
By opening their minds to understand the Scriptures he is revealing more of himself and indeed the God who is gracious and compassionate. He does not open their minds so that are excellent scholars but so that they should be excellent witnesses. His plan is to send these humble people into the world with the gospel of God’s grace. Linked to this is the promise of power, which we see fulfilled in the book of Acts. They will not be able to carry out their ministry until they receive this great power. If we read the Book of Acts carefully we will see how this promise of power is fulfilled on many occasions.
This is not just a matter of history but rather the great commission still exists and in Matthews version of it, we see how Jesus assures the disciples of all ages of his power and his presence.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The New International Version. (2011). (Mt 28:18–20). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
We too are called to be disciple makers who go in the power and authority of the risen Lord, knowing his presence. Theirs is a huge task to be fulfilled and looking at the task can be overwhelming but when we look to the Lord who has called us to the task we see that he has given us the authority that we need, the promise of his presence and his power and that should make us realise with Him all things are possible. If we look at the task we may get discouraged but if we look at the Lord we will be encouraged and strengthened.
In the above words, we have seen a little of how God reveals his glory to us, it can be with the mighty spectacle of Sinai or it can be the gentle revelation of the Resurrection accounts but the important thing to grasp is that it is the same wonderful Lord.