Who God really is

“In every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you.” Exodus 20:24

An interesting verse, in an interesting context. Before God directed the children of Israel to build the tabernacle he gave them guidelines for making altars (v 22-26). Here, worship was accepted by him and blessed by him to the worshipper.

To remember God’s name means more than knowing how to pronounce it—many can do such things. To remember God’s name is to know what his name means. In other words, it is to know God. His name is who he is, in all his glorious attributes. It is to know him both truly, by knowing him rightly, and personally, by trusting and walking with him.

And so God promised to be remembered by the people throughout their generations, and to bless them accordingly. He did this at altars, many altars of long history (they are the “every place” he speaks of). But they were all leading somewhere, moving toward some goal, some ultimate, God-revealing, sinner-blessing sacrifice. That sacrifice was Jesus Christ. That altar of earth was the hill Golgotha, where the living God shows us who he is. John Owen speaks of this divine revelation in terms of wisdom.

As he is crucified, so he is the wisdom of God; that is, all that wisdom which God layeth forth for the discovery and manifestation of himself, and for the saving of sinners, which makes foolish all the wisdom of the world,—that is all in Christ crucified; held out in him, by him, and to be obtained only from him.

The cross is the place where God has caused his name to be remembered beyond all span of time. It shows the world who God really is. It is also the place of blessing for sinners. Christ was rejected in our place that we might be embraced by God; he was cursed in our place that we might be blessed by God. Here is blessing, not just for conversion, but for ever and ever. For here is your God who smiles upon you.