The Long Nose of the Lord

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Exodus 34:6 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty.

Read Exodus 34:1-35

Have you ever seen someone get so upset that their very nose turned red? Their anger is quickly kindled, their temper quickly flairs. Hebrew is a vivid and descriptive language. There is a passage in Genesis describing one such event. Most translations simply say “Jacob’s anger was kindled.” (Gen 30:2) Interestingly the Hebrew simply says, “his nose became hot.”

This often quoted passage is actually a little bit less familiar when we read it in Hebrew. We literally read about the Lord, the Lord, merciful and gracious, having a long nose. God is not easily incensed. Our idea of wrath is an idea of a cranky man whose nostrils flair.

God indicates that it is actually very difficult to arouse his righteous indignation. He is slow to anger and rich in loyal love. God’s very nature in confirming his covenant with his people is a stunning blend of law and love. Despite their spiritual adultery at the foot of Mount Sinai, he can’t stop loving his bride. Moses comes down from the mountain and in a fit of rage destroys the two tablets containing the 10 commandments.

God, who is rich in love, demonstrates his forbearance. But like any jilted lover he a price has to be paid for the infidelity. This lover can either shame his bride, or suffer the outrageous shame of receiving back his unfaithful bride. God at the expense of everything gives up his very dignity to rescue the one he loves. He executes justice not against his bride, but for her and takes the shame she deserves.

On the cross we see this love in action. The God who by no means will clear the guilty, suffers the indignity of receiving back his unfaithful lover. The stunning beauty of law and love is that the God who by no means will clear the guilty will also show love for a thousand generations.

As you go about your business today, may the Long Nose of the Lord put a smile on your face as you realize how deeply loved you are.

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