The God of Holiness
The years of bondage concerning which the Lord had spoken to Abram are drawing to an end, and He takes up the cause of His stricken people in Egypt. Far away from the courts of Egypt in the backside of a desert, Moses is shepherding his father-in-laws sheep, and while doing so notices a thorn bush aflame with fire and yet keeping its greenness and freshness, and not at all being consumed. Curiosity naturally gets the better of him, and he goes to see this great sight - why the bush is continually burning with no loss to its freshness. Then he hears a voice: that of Jehovah, at which he becomes terrified, and would look at the bush no longer. Jehovah tells him first to take his shoes from his feet because he is in the immediate presence of the Lord. Next, He introduces Himself as the Elohim (the Triune God) of his fathers. Thirdly, that He has seen the affliction and heard the groaning of His people, and is come to deliver them; and lastly He says to Moses, "Come I will send thee".
All the seemingly wasted years culminate now in the call of Jehovah, his Triune God, and of Gods revelation to him of His glorious character, "I Am". Previously to this, the number of years foretold by the Lord to Abram had not run their course; nor had Moses been prepared of the Lord for the task before him. He could not possibly have delivered his people on that day when he smote the Egyptian, for the Lord had not yet completed his training. Further, he had not seen the Lord in all His holiness and awe, as he had now done at the bush. What a glory this brings to our God who changes not, and whose name is holy!
From this we learn that training for the service which the Lord would have us give Him is threefold: 1. Secular fitting for the Lords work; 2. Divine fitting for the work (would-be elders should remember the need for divine training in shepherding); and 3. Personal acquaintance with the God with whom we have to do, and doing this in deep and humble reverence.
The God of Righteousness
In the Psalms we read that "the righteous Lord loveth righteousness" (11.7), and, "righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His throne" (97.2). He can never tolerate sin and rebellion. In that abhorrence of sin He shows His righteousness in making inquisition into the case as He said to Abraham in regard to Sodom. Again, He shows it by giving repeated warnings, each increasing in severity or other conditions, such as placing "a redemption" between His people and Egypt, as in the ten plagues He brought on Pharaoh. Repeated stubbornness and hardening of heart brought final judgment at the shores of the Red Sea for Pharaoh and his people, so that the children of Israel could sing with Moses of many of the attributes which we have been considering, as recorded in Exodus 15. The word righteousness may not appear in this passage, but surely one cannot help but see it as the basis for divine operation here, in view of all which has gone before in the manner of Pharaoh toward Jehovah.
The God of Mercy
Not only were signs and wonders done in Egypt, and at the Red Sea in regard to Egypt, but mercy was shown to the children of Israel in that the Lord was pleased to look upon a substitute for them in the slain lamb, and the sprinkled blood. No mercy was for the children of Israel if they left the shelter of that shed blood on the doors of their houses on that night when the Lord passed through Egypt. The Lord passed over (this means completely covering their houses where that blood was sprinkled), so that the destroying angel should be unable to touch them without touching Him, which he dare not do. Yes, in mercy He brought them out. How that mercy shines in glory as we consider it in detail!
The God of Grace
Before bringing them into the land He had promised Abram, He shows them His gracious character. Their presumption (an unforgivable sin) at Kadesh (meaning sacred, apartness, or set apart for a purpose) had again been permitted, that God might show them His long-suffering grace with them. This would continue for forty years through the wilderness, bearing with them those long years until all who partook in that presumptuous rebellion against Him were strewn along in the wilderness. What glory this brought to His grace, He who could say through Malachi, "I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed" (3.6).
No doubt, as we have followed this study through, there have been occasions where we could have substituted one of the attributes for another. This is so, but does that not only enhance the individual glories of the God of glory, and also add to the overall lustre and brilliance of this God of glory whom we have been considering.
One further thing needs to be said. Whilst Stephen, under the impelling power of the Holy Spirit, brings out these many glories, and more beside, of the God he was accused of blaspheming, the Lord Jesus Christ (who also is depicted in Stephens address) is not only the brightness of glory, and express image of Gods Person. He it is who has taken to Himself sinless human form that He might bring us as many sons to glory not alone to the God of glory, but to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory. Also that He may give to us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Him. This is a greater privilege than that of Moses at the bush.
Our pilgrimage here is often beset with that which we would prefer not to have. However, when we consider the God of glory whom Stephen brings before us in Acts 7, and above all through our Lord Jesus Christ, what comfort we may find for our spirits, souls, and bodies in the knowledge that this God is working all things according to the counsel of His own will. Further, all things work together for good that we might be conformed to the image of His Son, and that He might be the Firstborn among many brethren.