Some shocking discoveries lurk in the pages of the Old Testament. I mean, God is pure holiness, unable to bear to look on sinful people in their sinful behavior. In His majestic and holy character, He describes the lifestyle which is pleasing to Him. Laws and boundaries are clearly set out, in the greatest detail. He is, according to Scripture, slow to anger and rich in love. What I’m getting at is, how amazing to see His immeasurable forgiveness extended toward the least likely (amazing, but so reassuring, if you get what I mean!)
Take Jacob for example. His name means ‘Liar/Cheat’ (how’d you like to be given that name?). And, with his mother’s underhanded help, he lies to his elderly father, steals his brother’s birth rite, then runs away to escape his brother’s wrath. Later, he continues in his sneaky ways and cheats his father-in-law. Later still, he wrestles all night with an angel with the result his being given a new name! (I’ll let you look that up in Genesis 32). It looks to me like forgiveness at its best.
Then darling David, shepherd, songwriter, the King ushering in Israel’s Golden Era of peace, sinking to lust, adultery, and the murder of one of his army captains in an attempt to cover up what he’s done. He repents in Psalm 51. Comparing David with Saul, God declares that He looks not on the outside but the heart. Then, in an astonishing turn of events, God, oozing forgiveness, promises that there will always be a descendent of David on the throne of Israel! A genuine mystery.
Then let’s consider the people of Israel, the Israelites. They disobeyed, turned their backs on God, chose to involve themselves in totally disgusting, vile pagan practices (too lurid to detail here – you’re welcome), giving themselves and their children in worship to idols. They consistently ignored the message of the prophets who were sent to them with strong words of warning. They were eventually invaded by foreigners and taken captive far from their land. But, get this! It was always God’s plan to lovingly forgive them, bring them back to the land He had promised them, then restore everything that had been destroyed during those wayward years. Plus, He would punish their punishers!
This is the uninterrupted, uninterruptable, love of God expressed seamlessly in Jesus. A love which defies understanding. A bent toward forgiveness that staggers the imagination. A love for His people, his Church, that, when the reality hits, causes us to fall on our faces, overwhelmed with gratitude for this love which knows no earthly comparison. God, willing to send His son to die for us when we were at our worst, and fully planning, along with that sending, to wash over us with His cleansing, loving forgiveness, restoring us to the place of full acceptance. And that, despite our weaknesses, our sins, our stubbornnesses, our disobediences, our repeated failings – all of which He sees before we even stumble into them! I’m (nearly) speechless! We’ll continue this stunning theme tomorrow 10 AM, 4 PM. PD