And the Lord passed by - and proclaimed, The Lord, etc. - It would be much better to read this verse thus: "And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed Jehovah," that is, showed Moses fully what was implied in this august name. Moses had requested God to show him his glory, (see the preceding chapter, Exodus 33:18; (note)), and God promised to proclaim or fully declare the name Jehovah, ( Exodus 33:19;); by which proclamation or interpretation Moses should see how God would "be gracious to whom he would be gracious," and how he would "be merciful to those to whom he would show mercy. Here therefore God fulfils that promise by proclaiming this name. It has long been a question, what is the meaning of the word יהוה Jehovah, Yehovah, Yehue, Yehveh, or Yeve, Jeue, Jao, Iao, Jhueh, and Jove; for it has been as variously pronounced as it has been differently interpreted. Some have maintained that it is utterly inexplicable; these of course have offered no mode of interpretation. Others say that it implies the essence of the Divine nature. Others, that it expresses the doctrine of the Trinity connected with the incarnation; the letter י yod standing for the Father, ה he for the Son, and ו vau (the connecting particle) for the Holy Spirit: and they add that the ה he being repeated in the word, signifies the human nature united to the Divine in the incarnation. These speculations are calculated to give very little satisfaction. How strange is it that none of these learned men have discovered that God himself interprets this name in Exodus 34:6,! "And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed יהוה Yehovah the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty." These words contain the proper interpretation of the venerable and glorious name Jehovah. But it will be necessary to consider them in detail.
The different names in this and the following verse have been considered as so many attributes of the Divine nature. Commentators divide them into eleven, thus: -
These eleven attributes, as they have been termed, are all included in the name Jehovah, and are, as we have before seen, the proper interpretation of it; but the meaning of several of these words has been variously understood.
This was the second revelation of the name of the God of Israel to Moses. The first revelation was of Yahweh as the self-existent One, who purposed to deliver His people with a mighty hand Exodus 3:14; this was of the same Yahweh as a loving Saviour who was now forgiving their sins. The two ideas that mark these revelations are found combined, apart from their historical development, in the second commandment, where the divine unity is shown on its practical side, in its relation to human obligations (compare Exodus 34:14; Exodus 20:4). Both in the commandment and in this passage, the divine love is associated with the divine justice; but in the former there is a transposition to serve the proper purpose of the commandments, and the justice stands before the love. This is strictly the legal arrangement, brought out in the completed system of the ceremonial law, in which the sin-offering, in acknowledgment of the sentence of justice against sin, was offered before the burnt-offering and the peace-offering. But in this place the truth appears in its essential order; the retributive justice of Yahweh is subordinated to, rather it is made a part of, His forgiving Love (see Exodus 32:14 note). The visitation of God, whatever form it may wear, is in all ages the working out purposes of Love toward His children. The diverse aspects of the divine nature, to separate which is the tendency of the unregenerate mind of man and of all paganism, are united in perfect harmony in the Lord Yahweh, of whom the saying is true in all its length and breadth, “God is love” 1 John 4:8. It was the sense of this, in the degree to which it was now revealed to him, that caused Moses to bow his head and worship Exodus 34:8. But the perfect revelation of the harmony was reserved for the fulness of time when “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” Revelation 13:8 was made known to us in the flesh as both our Saviour and our Judge.
To the transgressor it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God; but Moses stood alone in the presence of the Eternal One, and he was not afraid; for his soul was in harmony with the will of his Maker. Says the psalmist, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Psalm 66:18. But “the secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant.” Psalm 25:14. PP 329.1
The Deity proclaimed Himself, “The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.” PP 329.2
“Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped.” Again he entreated that God would pardon the iniquity of His people, and take them for His inheritance. His prayer was granted. The Lord graciously promised to renew His favor to Israel, and in their behalf to do marvels such as had not been done “in all the earth, nor in any nation.” PP 329.3
Forty days and nights Moses remained in the mount; and during all this time, as at the first, he was miraculously sustained. No man had been permitted to go up with him, nor during the time of his absence were any to approach the mount. At God's command he had prepared two tables of stone, and had taken them with him to the summit; and again the Lord “wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” [See Appendix, note 5.] PP 329.4
During that long time spent in communion with God, the face of Moses had reflected the glory of the divine Presence; unknown to himself his face shone with a dazzling light when he descended from the mountain. Such a light illumined the countenance of Stephen when brought before his judges; “and all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.” Acts 6:15. Aaron as well as the people shrank away from Moses, and “they were afraid to come nigh him.” Seeing their confusion and terror, but ignorant of the cause, he urged them to come near. He held out to them the pledge of God's reconciliation, and assured them of His restored favor. They perceived in his voice nothing but love and entreaty, and at last one ventured to approach him. Too awed to speak, he silently pointed to the countenance of Moses, and then toward heaven. The great leader understood his meaning. In their conscious guilt, feeling themselves still under the divine displeasure, they could not endure the heavenly light, which, had they been obedient to God, would have filled them with joy. There is fear in guilt. The soul that is free from sin will not wish to hide from the light of heaven. PP 329.5Read in context »
The Lord granted the earnest entreaty of his servant. “And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken; for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee, and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me, and live. And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock. And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock; and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by. And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts; but my face shall not be seen.” 3SG 289.1
Never before was fallen man thus favored of God. As he laid upon Moses the great work of leading his people through to the promised land, he condescended to manifest to him his glory as he never had to any others upon the earth. 3SG 289.2
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and I will write upon these tables the words which were in the first tables which thou brakest. And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount, neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount.” 3SG 289.3Read in context »
Brethren, you will have to wrestle with difficulties, carry burdens, give advice, plan and execute, constantly looking to God for help. Pray and labor, labor and pray; as pupils in the school of Christ, learn of Jesus. GW 417.1
The Lord has given us the promise, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” [James 1:5.] It is in the order of God that those who bear responsibilities should often meet together to counsel with one another, and to pray earnestly for that wisdom which He alone can impart. Talk less; much precious time is lost in talk that brings no light. Let brethren unite in fasting and prayer for the wisdom that God has promised to supply liberally. Make known your troubles to God. Tell Him, as did Moses, “I cannot lead this people unless Thy presence shall go with me.” And then ask still more; pray with Moses, “Show me Thy glory.” [Exodus 33:18.] What is this glory?—The character of God. This is what He proclaimed to Moses. GW 417.2
Let the soul in living faith fasten upon God. Let the tongue speak His praise. When you associate together, let the mind be reverently turned to the contemplation of eternal realities. Thus you will be helping one another to be spiritually minded. When your will is in harmony with the divine will, you will be in harmony with one another; you will have Christ by your side as a counselor. GW 417.3
Enoch walked with God. So may every laborer for Christ. You may say with the psalmist, “I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.”[Psalm 16:8.] While you feel that you have no sufficiency of yourself, your sufficiency will be in Jesus. If you expect all your counsel and wisdom to come from men, mortal and finite like yourselves, you will receive only human help. If you go to God for help and wisdom, He will never disappoint your faith. GW 417.4Read in context »