I love the interaction between Moses and the Lord in Exodus 33 & 34, but this last week the portion where the Lord passes by Moses has just stuck with me.
Exodus 34:6 says "And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed" okay stop right there....God passed by Moses and basically starts bragging on Himself, and this is what He chooses to lead out with, not words of might and power and majesty, oh no, but this:
"The Lord, The Lord God, merciful, and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin..."
He then goes on to talk about judging the guilty, etc., but since we live on this side of the resurrection I'm just going to stop there for now.
The part that has just been ringing in my heart all week is "keeping mercy for thousands", in particular the word keeping, because it implies a purposeful intention on His part. Like a grounds keeper tends a garden or a beekeeper cares for his hive, our God is a mercykeeper.
The word translated 'keeping' in the Hebrew is 'natsar' which means to watch, guard with fidelity, preserve, keep close...scripture also uses this word in conjunction with the keeping of vineyards.
The picture that keeps coming to mind and exploding in my heart is the Lord in this elaborate and lush garden. This garden is continuously in bloom, the trees are always producing fruit, and He broods over it with a holy jealousy. The plants of this garden are of every type, variety, and color and all for one purpose; to pour out mercy for individuals, families, generations, tribes, and nations.
Lamentations 3:22-23 says "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." (ESV)
Somewhere at this moment, the sun is rising, morning is breaking and the Mercykeeper is tending His garden.