He Makes His Ways Known to Moses – Psalm 103:7
Moses had asked God to be shown the ways of God. God told Moses that He will pass by with all of His goodness before Moses and He will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy (Exodus 33:19).
What does this mean? Some Christians argue that this passage teaches that there is no rhyme or reason to God’s grace. God chooses to favor whosoever He chooses to favor. The fact that Scripture teaches that God favors those who do His bidding and frowns upon those who do not does not faze these Christians. These theologians reinterpret all of Scripture according to their misunderstanding of this one verse in Exodus. These religious doctors argue that man has no free will and that when God arbitrarily chooses to favor someone God blesses them with good deeds and then blesses them with favor as a “reward” for their robotic deeds. All of the rest of mankind are allowed by God to marinate in their sinful state of being and get cursed for being created that way.
That these theologians have misinterpreted this passage in Exodus is easy to demonstrate. This verse does not stand alone. The book of Psalms elaborates on this Scriptural theme. The Psalmist tells us clearly that God’s grace goes to those who fear God and that this is what God taught Moses (Psalm 103:11,12). His eternal kindness is reserved for those who guard His covenant and remember His commandments to observe them. This is the Psalmist’s understanding of the passage in Exodus. The Psalmist had the good fortune to have never heard of John Calvin.
But how do we translate the verse in Exodus? What is God telling Moses when He says that He will have mercy upon whom he will have mercy?
What God is teaching us through Moses is that His mercy is reserved to those who look to Him and to Him alone for mercy. God is telling Moses that those who will attribute their good fortune to the forces of nature, to the whims of chance, to the services of Jesus, to the merit of their own good deeds or to any other entity aside from the God of Moses will not merit His mercy. God will only have mercy upon those who allow Him to have mercy on them. Whoever takes shelter in another force will need to look for mercy from the force in which they placed their trust. It is only those who trust in Him and in Him alone that will merit His mercy.
Fearing God and observing His commandments does not mean placing trust in the performance of commandments or in a righteous heart. Fearing God and observing His commandments means recognizing that one cannot give to God that which God has not already blessed us with.
No one said it better than our King David when He stood before God and declared “it is all from You and it is from Your hand that we give to You” (1Chronicles 29:14). David did not have to deny that man has free will in order to acknowledge the absolute sovereignty of God. David understood that God in His absolute sovereignty granted man free will and He still remains absolutely sovereign. After all, God could do anything.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal