"And he 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." - Exodus 34:6-7
"This Is Our God" is a declarative song that helps us grow in a greater understanding and experience of God's essential nature. The first time this happens in the Scriptures is in the book of Exodus, chapter 34. Until this point, God has progressively revealed Himself through the Creation story, the Genesis narrative, and most of Exodus. But in chapter 34, God names himself and His character as clearly as we see it in the entirety of Scripture. As He passes in front of Moses, he says, I am "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 is amazing and profound! Of all the ways God could have chosen to define who He is, he chooses the words compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love and faithfulness. As the story of the Bible unfolds from this point on, these themes get picked up over and over and revealed with greater clarity and depth. Ultimately, Jesus fulfills this self-revelation of God in the clearest way possible. Jesus is, after all, the "radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature," as the writer of Hebrews remarks (Heb. 1:3). In Jesus, we see the grace, compassion, and abounding love and faithfulness of God perfectly on display.
The chorus of the song "This Is Our God" riffs off of this Biblical theme with a summarizing statement, "This is our God, this is who He is, He loves us ." The lyric "this is who He is" is an excellent reminder that God cannot act in any way that defies His character. And since He has disclosed himself as "abounding in love and faithfulness," we should expect everything God does to be loving and faithful. Why?! Because love is not just something God does, it is who He is! And why should we expect Him to be faithful in every season of our lives? For the same reason, because He is a faithful God. His expressions of faithfulness aren't one-off flukes that may or may not occur again; they are rock-steady expressions of who He is that we should learn to expect from Him.
The same is true for the second half of the chorus lyric: "This is our God, this is what He does, He saves us!" God's character is always expressed through His actions. And because He is a gracious and compassionate God, we can expect Him to save us in our times of need. We can expect Him to rush to be near to us in our moments of weakness. When we have been unfaithful and might expect Him to turn away and allow us to perish, He does the opposite. Why?! Because His love for us is not primarily dependent upon us; instead, it's dependent upon His nature. So when we are unfaithful, He remains faithful. When we lack compassion, it doesn't change His sense of compassion for us. We are fickle, ever-changing, and shifting in our emotions and actions, but God remains constant in both His nature and actions.
So how does this affect our daily lives as Jesus' followers? I believe the declaration of this song is an invitation to come to know, both intellectually and experientially, who God is with more depth and dependence. It's one thing to know God's faithfulness as head knowledge but another thing entirely to experience God's faithfulness. Experience breeds a deeper knowing that builds faith in our lives. So the next time we walk through a season or circumstance where we are confronted with doubt or lack of faith, the invitation for each of us is to call upon the God who has already told us that He is gracious, compassionate, loving, and faithful. We should expect Him to act in ways that are in accordance with His nature.