forgiveness

God always has a but.

God always has a but.

Nehemiah 9

Yes, before you get too worked up, observe the spelling of the word "but" in the title. It’s a part of speech, not a part of the body! And it illustrates something wonderful about God—that He is always eager to give us another chance and that He is always willing to forgive, forget, and move on.

In this chapter, as the Israelite exiles recounted the history of God and their nation, there were a lot of buts flying around:

God never overlooks sin.

God never overlooks sin.

2 Kings 24

Since I’m writing this blog with the aim of finding out what every Bible chapter has to say about God, I’m always looking for any specific "God statements" that the Bible writers make. And boy, did I find a doozy of one in this chapter! Did you catch it? Here it is: "The Lord sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against [Jehoiakim] to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the Lord proclaimed by his servants the prophets. Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord was not willing to forgive." (vs 2-4)

God makes friends out of enemies.

God makes friends out of enemies.

1 Kings 5

It must have been quite a privilege to work on building the temple of God. Many tens of thousands of Israelites were involved in the process, as well as some foreigners. This was the little tidbit that caught my eye: "So give orders that cedars of Lebanon be cut for me. My men will work with yours, and I will pay you for your men whatever wages you set. You know that we [Israelites] have no one so skilled in felling timber as the Sidonians." (vs 6)

Learned Graciousness {gn50:14-21}

genesis-gods-graciousness-learned-graciousness-poem.png

At the end
of the genesis
we come to this:

our fears
in the mouths
of the brothers—

will there be a grudge
what if we aren't forgiven
maybe we need to offer
an incentive
in order to be eligible
for grace

and God
in the face
of Joseph—

weeping over the fear
promising provision
assuring that everything
which had been done
for evil has been turned
for good

After all this time
are you still
afraid?
asked Joseph

asks God

It is not possible
that Joseph was more
gracious
than his creator.

 

God is on the move.

God is on the move.

1 SAMUEL 16

I just love it when the Bible hauls off and slaps me upside the head. This was one of those chapters. I read the whole thing, of course, recognizing the most famous verse along the way—"People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."(vs 7) But, mentally, I never really got past verse one. It hit me right between the eyes the second I read it:

Radical Religion {gn45:7-8}

Photo © Unsplash/Joshua Earle

Photo © Unsplash/Joshua Earle

this—
this!
is what I
long for:

a faith so strong in God
that I could
dream the dreams
brave the slave auction
endure the dungeon
and not let the
power and
position and
prestige
go to my head

a life so lived for God
that I could
suddenly find him
incarnate in me
when I come face to face
with those who have done me
wrong

a joy so complete in God
that I could revel
in my power to save
the very ones
who had wanted me dead

a heart so close to God
that in every evil act
I could see
only his goodness

only his goodness

 

Change of Heart {gn33:4}

Photo © Robert T. Garrett

Photo © Robert T. Garrett

Esau, Esau,
what happened to you?
The last time we heard from you,
you were muttering under your breath
about killing your brother,
having been "cheated"
(so you claimed)
out of your "blessing."

How is it, then,
that you garnered
the very best blessing of all?

When did you surrender to the
Transformer of Hearts?

Esau, Esau,
you may not have received the birthright,
but you did not escape the blessing
of a contented heart
at peace with What Is in the world.

 

God does not remember our sins.

God does not remember our sins.

DEUTERONOMY 33

I know. No big “earth-shattering” revelation today. We all know that God doesn’t remember our sins, but it’s awfully nice to see it in action. This promise of God’s isn’t just a claim; it’s a reality. In Deuteronomy 33, Moses pronounces a blessing on the people of Israel as they are getting ready to enter the Promised Land. As I read through the list of blessings, I couldn’t help once again noticing the names behind the tribes of Israel: Dan, Asher, Gad, Levi, Judah...

God has a Happy New Year for each day.

God has a Happy New Year for each day.

DEUTERONOMY 30

I found it curious that, in this chapter, Moses almost seems to prophesy that the Israelites will turn away from God: "When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you." (vs 1-3)

God's forgiveness doesn't negate consequences.

God's forgiveness doesn't negate consequences.

NUMBERS 14

As I read this chapter of Numbers, it occurred to me that it contained a fabulous example of how God’s forgiveness doesn’t equal salvation. I was just about to write that this was a fabulous example of how God’s forgiveness doesn’t have anything to do with salvation. But I don’t think that’s entirely true. If God wasn’t a forgiving Person, we would have no opportunity for salvation in the first place. So, forgiveness and salvation are linked in that way.

God gives tears for fears.

God gives tears for fears.

GENESIS 43

One of the things this chapter does so well is draw a big distinction between the way our mind works and the way God’s mind works. I see an awful lot of God in Joseph, particularly in this point in the story. He knows now that his older brothers and father are still alive. He’s not so sure about his younger brother. Certainly, he hasn’t forgotten about being sold into slavery. Yet, Joseph never harbors any ill will toward his brothers for what they have done to him. He treats them kindly, though he must wonder if they have tried to get rid of Benjamin (Rachel’s other child) as they had gotten rid of him.