He always forgave

7:00 AM

















































I think I've said it before in this space but I'll say it again, 
I LOVE reading the Old Testament. 
Something about reading the cultural context and history that Jesus was born into adds so many dimensions to the gospel story we read in the New Testament. 

A few months ago I was reading a Psalm which spoke about loving God's laws and I thought to myself, "Heck, I don't even know half of God's laws let alone love them!" 
So I decided to read the more gnarly books of the OT and find out what the deal is. 

I'm hoping to post lots of reflections as I dig in but here's one that really stood out and it's about forgiveness.

See I think we often think of God as depicted in the OT as a wrathful angry God, keeping score of the actions of his people and destroying them if they step a toe out of line. 
And yep, there's some pretty intense scenes of judgement in there but deep within all of the crazy comes this little episode in Numbers Chapter 14

God's people have just made up their minds to head on back to Egypt and when some of the leaders try to reason with them they start picking up rocks to hurl the leaders way. 
These are dark days for God's people. 
Relations are fractured and if I were Moses I'd be pretty ready to step down and go holiday on a Greek island somewhere.

Moses, the leader of God's people has led them out of slavery in Egypt. God pulled him out of his comfortable hidey hole in the outskirts of civilization and sent him deep into Pharoahs court to do His bidding. He sees a faithful and thankful multitude go out through the parting of the sea to safety and the promise of a new land beyond.

 And, Moses has seen God's people loose hope. Time and time again. When things get a little hard they have been quick to move on to other options. They grumble and whine and wish for slavery.  

Their actions have consequence but as we see in this story their actions do not put them out of reach of God.

Here's what Moses says;


17“Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: 18‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ 19In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”



20The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked.

Moses pleads with God for the forgiveness of this messed-up bunch of grizzly complainers. He sticks by the people he has been given to lead. And God, in stead of sending them to bed without any dinner answers Moses plea with a yes. An of course. He will forgive.

And yet their hearts are still wandering. They still wish they were back in Egypt or worse some wish they were dead rather than stranded in the desert. 

But God forgives. 
His forgiveness is not reliant on their actions or their asking.

It was and still is there for the taking. There is no secret key to unlock its power, no special handshake, no liturgy or routine. There can be no action to undo it nor amplify its potency. It is freely given and strong enough for all.

BUT

Just because God forgives again and again he still gives people what they want
and many of God's people wanted nothing to do with him. So, he allows it. 
The land he had ready for them would not be theirs.
As CS Lewis writes "All get what they want; they do not always like it."

The door to God's kingdom was standing wide open and they walked in the opposite direction.

I often hear people wonder why God couldn't just forgive people without the need for Jesus to die. 
Reading these verses really made the answer to that question clear in my mind. 

He did forgive. 
He has forgiven. 
He always forgave.

But we would not walk through the door. 
We would not walk through so Jesus came and obediently walked through the door himself.

All the times we picked up stones to throw at God, all the times we made plans to Go back to Egypt?
Jesus took those stones into his body and took on that rejection himself.
So that we could not only be forgiven but that we could be HIS. 
We can go knock on the door and see as it is opened wide. 


1 comment:

  1. Love this, what a beautiful reflection and such a wonderful reminder of God's great mercy!

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