Because of the
LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They
are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
There’s always been a pattern in the way God deals with man’s
disobedience. This pattern was first seen in the Garden and appears
repeatedly in the lives of the Patriarchs, in the history of Israel, and all
through the Old Testament. Disobedience brought consequences, but confession
brought forgiveness and a new beginning.
Take the case of Abraham. The Lord had said to him,
“Leave your country, your people, and
your father’s household and go into a land I will show you” (Gen.
12:1). But Abraham took his father, his nephew Lot, and all their
families with him, and went only as far as Haran, about half way, where they
remained for several years. After his father died, Abraham completed
the journey, again with Lot and all the possessions and people they had
acquired in Haran, finally arriving in Canaan many years after they first
started out (Gen. 11:31 and
But then Abraham and Sarah left the land God had brought them to
and went to Egypt, where they acquired Hagar, an Egyptian handmaiden.
While they were there they got into trouble with Pharaoh for misrepresenting
their relationship and were asked to leave the country. Later, after
waiting 18 years for the Lord to give them a son, Abraham and Sarah decided
to take matters into their own hands. As a result Hagar became the
first surrogate mother in recorded history, giving birth to Ishmael. And so
Abraham, the first man to be called a Hebrew, caused the birth of the first
Arab. The problems that created continue to this day.
Going To Obey Me Or Not?
Variations on the same theme continue in the lives of Isaac,
Jacob, 11 of his 12 sons and ultimately in the history of the nation they
founded. In fact the entire Old Testament can be summed up in one question.
“Israel, are you going to obey Me or not?” (The answer was clearly no.)
For example, the land was given to Israel without condition (Gen.17:7-8),
but to live there in peace and prosperity, they had to obey the Laws He gave
them. When they didn’t, the Lord either permitted their enemies to rule over
them or had them taken from the land altogether. Once these consequences
were experienced and they had turned back to Him, the Lord helped them
defeat their oppressors and return to their land.
Disobedience, consequence, confession, forgiveness, new
beginning: this cycle was repeated over and over again. Israel’s
disobedience caused periods of subjugation by Mesopotamia for 8 yrs
(Judges 3:8), the Moabites for 18
yrs (Judges 3:12-14) the
Canaanites for 20 years (Judges 4:2-3)
the Midianites for 7 years (Judges
6:1) the Ammonites for 18 years
(Judges 10:7-8) the Philistines
for 40 years (Judges 13:1)
expulsion by the Babylonians for 70 years (Jeremiah 25:8-11) subjugation again by the Greeks under Antiochus IV
from 168-163 BC, and finally under the Romans both subjugation,
beginning in 63 BC, and then expulsion (70-1948 AD).
Why Is He So
Why, when they continued to make the same mistakes over and over
again did He always take them back? The answer is in
Ezekiel 36:22. It is not for
your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for
the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where
you have gone. It’s because He promised He would and His integrity is at
stake. It was an eternal and unconditional promise that their periodic
disobedience would not deter Him from keeping.
In the New Testament. the writer of Hebrews called Abraham a
towering example of faith, omitting any mention of disobedience in
summarizing his life (Hebr. 11:8-12).
And Paul described Abraham as one whose faith was credited to him as
righteousness, and who never wavered through unbelief (Rom
4:3, 20). It’s as if his acts of disobedience had never happened. How
could that be?
“The time is
coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the
house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the
covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead
them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to
them,” declares the LORD. “This is the covenant I will make with the house
of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their
minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my
people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother,
saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of
them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their
wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
It’s because in Jeremiah
31:31-34, quoted above, God promised Israel a New Covenant that would
permit Him to forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more.
That’s why there’s no mention of Abraham’s disobedience in the New
Testament. The New Covenant has come and the Lord is making good on His
promise to forgive everyone who asks and forget everything we’ve done. (Now
it’s true that Israel has not officially accepted this New Covenant, but for
those like Abraham who have sought the Lord’s forgiveness, He has granted
was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance
and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
His mercies are still new every morning. No matter how big
a mess we made yesterday, today is a brand new day. All we have to do
is ask and His forgiveness wipes the slate clean again.
And this is the
will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me,
but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that
everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life,
and I will raise him up at the last day.”(John 6:39-40).
That’s because we’re saved on the basis of our belief, not our
behavior, and He’s promised not to lose any of us along the way, no matter
Now it is God who
makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his
seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit,
guaranteeing what is to come (2 Cor. 1:21-22).
All this happened before we had done a single thing, good or bad,
in our life as a believer. We’re His and nothing can change that.
If we confess our
sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us
from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
He’s also promised to forgive us whenever we confess our sins,
even after we’re saved.
These are unconditional promises, given by One Who cannot lie.
His integrity is still at stake. After all, He is the same yesterday, today
and forever (Hebr. 13:8).
Going To Believe Me Or Not?
So just like He did with Israel, the Lord has made eternal and
unconditional promises to the Church. These promises were so important to
Him that He signed them in His own blood. But even so, some try to
re-interpret them by adding conditions He never mentioned, or ignore them
altogether in an attempt to make our salvation dependent on something other
than our faith. Turns out the New Testament can be summed up in a single
question, too. “Church, are you going to believe Me or not?” Sadly, for
many the answer still seems to be no. Selah 04-21-