The Wounds of Christ III – The Name of YHWH
“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquities of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation [of those who hate me – Ex.20:5]
– Exodus 34:6-7
In Exodus 33:19, Moses asks to see God’s glory, and Exodus 34:6-7 is the Lord’s response: He proclaims and explains His Name (i.e., His identity).
The “glory” of a treasure chest appears only when the chest is opened, and in a similar way – God unfolded, God exegeted, God expounded, the internal identity of God “going public,” is the glory of God.
But there is a paradox at the heart of God’s name; an apparent tension woven into the fabric of His revealed identity. What is it? He forgives “iniquity, transgression and sin,” and yet He “will by no means clear the guilty.”
Wait a second….don’t you have to be guilty if you are going to be forgiven of something? The definition of forgiveness demands that at least one party be in the wrong (i.e., guilty). And yet in the revelation of His identity (His glory), God says that He forgives sin and yet does not clear the guilty – how can this be?
The answer is, of course, Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is the Enfleshment of God’s Name. He is the infinite glory of God localized in time and space. He is the 33 year long declaration of the Identity of God; “YHWH” spoken through body, bone, and blood. If anyone wants to know God, if anyone wants to understand, to see, to commune with God – they will do so in Jesus Christ. This is true now (John 14:6,9) and will be true in eternity (Revelation 22:3-4).
If this is so, we would expect to find YHWH’s Self Revelation of Exodus 34:6-7 somehow embodied in His Incarnate Son. Do we? Indeed, we do. And we see it at the cross.
It is at the cross, and in the person of His Son, that YHWH climactically declares Himself to be the God who forgives sin and yet does not clear the guilty. On Calvary, Jesus Christ – blazing with love for His Father and His Bride – absorbs the wrath deserved by our guilt. He becomes our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), and in His flesh, our sin is damned (Romans 8:3). And so, in the crushing of the Beloved, the identity of the gracious, merciful, forgiving, and just God is made known in terror and beauty the likes of which no one could have anticipated.
Moses asked to see God’s glory, and God speaks His Name to Moses…..but the words of Sinai are only shadows, only foretastes, only distant echoes of a louder and clearer declaration. In Christ, it is as if the Triune God is saying to His creation:
“Would you know me, my people? Would you see into my heart? Would you see my glory and my beauty? Would you truly know me?
Then here I Am, dwelling in your midst as one of you. Here I Am, healing and providing for you with my words. Here I Am, declaring to you truth in a world of deception. Here I Am, serving you for your joy. Here I Am, merciful and gracious, and bearing your guilt in my own body of flesh. Here I Am, pouring out my blood, my life, my infinite self, for your sake. Here I Am, become a corpse because of love………
And Here I Am, trampling death with nail-scared feet. Here I Am, bestowing peace and blessing with nail-pierced hands. Here I Am, risen to the throne of the universe, your Savior, Lord and God, extending forgiveness to all…..and yet not clearing anyone who is guilty…….the wounds in my hands and feet declare all this to be so.”
What was whispered on Sinai, is shouted from Golgotha.
And so, the wounds of our Savior will eternally proclaim the Name and Identity of God. For all the coming ages, whenever we gather to feast with our King, whenever we approach the throne in wonder and joy, whenever we meet our Lord in the hills and fields and oceans of the New Earth, whenever our thoughts dwell on His beauty, we will see the scars. And at the sight of His love-torn hands and feet, we will be reminded of just who our God is:
“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty.”