Five Characteristics of God
The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected— even children in the third and fourth generations.”
Exodus 34:6-7 NLT
These two verses of scripture are central to understanding our Heavenly Father. In fact, they are quoted over 20 times in the rest of the Bible—20 times!
Let me give the setting so we can understand what is going on. Moses had led the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, and here, they were at Mt Sinai where they had camped for a year. Moses went up the mountain and received the Ten Commandments while the children of Israel broke the commandments at the base of the mountain. Moses came down, judged the people, and then went back up the mountain a second time to get a new set of the commandments.
Here is where this passage comes in the narrative. God was introducing His character to Moses and the children of Israel. In this description, there are the five characteristics of God: compassion, mercy, slow to anger, unfailing love, and faithfulness. God says He forgives iniquity, rebellion, and sin—but He does not excuse the guilty.
This is the contrast in the character of God—forgiveness and judgment. He is loving but just. He forgives, and He punishes. God’s core traits are rooted in generous mercy and loyal love. God’s anger is not a primary attribute. It’s a divine reaction to selfish and destructive human decisions—and it’s rooted in God’s love.
If you saw someone doing something harmful to your child, you would get angry. This is the way God feels when He sees us sinning—He knows we are harming His creation. His anger is because of His love for us. He wants the best for us and knows that sin will destroy the best He has planned for us.
We can’t have a world of compassion without consequences for wrongdoing. It takes a balance of both compassion and justice.
Why do you think it is important to have a balance?
Thank You, Heavenly Father, for being a God of compassion and justice. Thanks for loving me even in my sinfulness. Thanks for loving me so much that You want me to get victory over my sin. Thanks for making a way that through Jesus, I can be free from the control and consequence of my sin.
Scroll down to share what you feel God is saying to you based on today’s reading.