Exodus 34:6, 7
HOW would you describe God—his personality and his ways? Imagine that you could ask God about himself and then listen as he described his own attributes. The prophet Moses had just such an experience. Thankfully, he was inspired to record what happened.
Up on Mount Sinai, Moses implored Jehovah: “Cause me to see, please, your glory.” (Exodus 33:18) The next day, the prophet was privileged to be given a glimpse of God’s glory.* Moses did not describe in detail what he saw in the magnificent vision. Instead, he recorded something of more profound importance—what God said. Let us examine what Jehovah said, as found at Exodus 34:6, 7.
The first thing Jehovah reveals about himself is that he is “a God merciful and gracious.” (Verse 6) According to one scholar, the Hebrew word rendered “merciful” bespeaks God’s “tender compassion, like that of a father to his children.” The word rendered “gracious” is related to a verb that “depicts a heartfelt response by someone who has something to give to one who has a need.” Clearly, Jehovah wants us to know that he looks after his worshippers as parents look after their children—with tender love and deep concern for their needs.—Psalm 103:8, 13.
Next, Jehovah says that he is “slow to anger.” (Verse 6) He is not prone to become angry with his earthly servants. Rather, he is patient with them, putting up with their shortcomings while giving them time to change their sinful ways.—2 Peter 3:9.
God continues, saying he is “abundant in loving-kindness and truth.” (Verse 6) Loving-kindness, or loyal love, is a precious quality by which Jehovah forges between himself and his people a bond that is steadfast, unfailing. (Deuteronomy 7:9) Jehovah is also a wellspring of truth. He can neither deceive nor be deceived. Since he is “the God of truth,” we can have complete faith in everything he says, including his promises for the future.—Psalm 31:5.
Another great truth that Jehovah wants us to know about himself is that he pardons “error and transgression and sin.” (Verse 7) He is “ready to forgive” repentant sinners. (Psalm 86:5) At the same time, Jehovah never condones badness. He explains that “by no means will he give exemption from punishment.” (Verse 7) The holy and just God will not leave willful sinners unpunished. Sooner or later the consequences of their sinful behavior will catch up with them.
Jehovah’s description of his qualities is a clear indication that he wants us to get to know him and to become acquainted with his personality and ways. Are you not moved to learn more about his beautiful qualities?
Moses did not see Jehovah directly, for no human may see God and yet live. (Exodus 33:20) Jehovah evidently gave Moses a vision of His glory, communicating with him through an angelic representative.