15 Jan A God Who’s Moved to Compassion
The pagan gods of ancient times were seen as very capricious. Especially during Old Testament times, these were gods who required things like human sacrifices and the practice of horrible sexual deeds to supposedly gain their favor.
You could not get through to these pagan gods’ compassion for anything. They were apathetic—they had an indifference, a lack of feeling. They were immovable in the sense that nothing affected them emotionally. That meant you couldn’t manipulate them with anger or joy or love.
But the God of the Bible wanted to say, “I’m not like that.” He wanted to differentiate Himself. In the burning bush episode of Exodus 3, God told Moses, “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them” (vv. 7-8).
Here’s the principle: immutable does not mean immovable. God is immutable, meaning He doesn’t change; He’s always the same. But He is moved by your pain. He is moved by your circumstances and problems. He sees it all, hears it all, and knows it all. And He wants to do something about it. He is a compassionate God. To have compassion means to be gentle or to have pity—the idea that what hurts you hurts me, and I’m going to bear your burdens. Yes, God is sovereign and immutable and omniscient and holy. But He feels your pain. He sympathizes.
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5). If that doesn’t wreck you, I don’t know what will. That’s the kind of God He is.
Later on, Moses will say to the Lord, “I’d like to know You more intimately, face to face—can You show me Your glory?” And God will say, “Sorry, no one can see My face and live. But I’ll tell you what: I’m going to put you in the cleft of a rock and put My hand over you, and then I’m going to pass by” (see Exodus 33:18-23).
Get this: the cleft of a rock is actually a broken place on a mountain, where part of the mountain face has broken or tumbled away. So God was saying, “I’m going to put you in a broken place, Moses, but I’m going to protect you there and come pass by.” Have you ever wondered if God is really with you in the broken places of your life? Don’t wonder about that for a second. He is. He is close to you. He has His hand over you. The psalmist said He “is near to those who have a broken heart” (Psalm 34:18). He is a God who is moved to compassion over you. Take comfort in that today.