Six Ways God Describes Himself That May Surprise You

Exodus 34: 6-7a says “And He (The Lord), passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.'”

This description may come to mind when we think of Jesus in the New Testament, but these are the words God chooses to describe Himself in the Old Testament. They are even more precious and impacting when we put them in context.

God reveals Himself to Moses in this way, the second time he went up to meet with God in order to receive the 10 commandments. That means the newly formed children of Israel had already seen God’s mighty works and fallen away worshipping a golden calf of all things. They worshipped a statue instead of the living God! They had indulged and over indulged in revelry, just two chapters before.

Yet this is how God described Himself to them: a compassionate, gracious, forgiving God.

Does anyone else breathe a big sigh of relief when you read this passage? These verses have been life changing for me. This declaration from God Himself means I can run to Him, rather than away from Him in fear.

Despite their sinful choices, Moses begs God to go with them and show them His Glory.

At this point, God had already enforced the 10 plagues on Egypt while not allowing them to touch His own people. Was this not God’s glory? They had already passed through the parted waters of the Red Sea safely while the waters washed away the enemy pursuing them. Wasn’t that pretty glorious? They had been directed by the cloud that covered them by day, and then they were protected by the fire that surrounded them by night. Is there more glory to be seen? They had been given water from the rock, manna and quail from heaven and their shoes still hadn’t worn out in all their years of traveling. Really, had they not seen God’s glory yet?

Sadly, even after experiencing all of these miracles, they turned away from God and worshipped a man made image.

Yet, in the midst of their brokenness, God comes down and stands with Moses to show him His glory.

God declares, “This is who I Am”…

I am compassionate,

I am gracious,

I am slow to anger,

I am abounding in love,

I am faithful,

I am forgiving…

They didn’t deserve His glory. They didn’t earn His glory. He could be none other. This is who God is!

On one of our recent trips to India a group of prostitutes approached one of our pastors for help. Several had AIDS, most were abused, hopeless, broken and poor. Our Indian friend explained even though he didn’t have money to fix their problems, he did know the Answer to their deepest needs. They were stunned and overwhelmed to hear there was a God who loved them and would forgive them of their sins, even their sins. In the face of such compassion and grace they surrendered and encountered a forgiving God. We watched them as they joined us at church in the front row, kneeling with hands raised, worshipping God, with tears streaming down their faces washing their hearts and lives.

This is God’s glory!

This is who God is, He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, forgiving and abounding in love and faithfulness. Our God is glorious!


Have you misunderstood who God is? In the midst of your brokenness let God come stand with you and show you who He is. God’s love is bigger than your sin. Today is the day to stop running from God, confess your sin and run into His compassion, grace and forgiveness.

By Julie Steadman, Church Planting School Staff Member