Going To Or Not?

Posted: December 6, 2011 in Wandering Thoughts

His Mercies Are New Every Morning

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. Lamentations 3:22-23

There’s is a pattern in the way God deals with my disobedience. This pattern was first seen in the Garden, it appears repeatedly in the history of Israel, and is found all through the New Testament.  Disobedience brings consequences, but confession brings forgiveness and new beginnings.

Look at Abraham.  The Lord 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, traveling only as far as Haran, about half way, where they remained for several years.  Later he continued, 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 12:4-5).

After that they left again, for Egypt this time, where they acquired Hagar, an Egyptian handmaiden, and got into trouble with Pharaoh for lying about Abraham’s relationship with Sarah.  Then, after waiting 18 years for the Lord to give them a son, Abraham and Sarah decided to take matters into their own hands.  Hagar became the first surrogate mom 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.

Variations of the same theme continue in the lives of Isaac, Jacob, 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: the pattern was repeated, just as it has in my life.

Why, when i continue to make the same mistakes over and over does He always take me 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.  It was an eternal and unconditional promise and my worthiness is not at issue.

The writer of Hebrews called Abraham a towering example of faith, omitting any mention of these acts 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.

In Jeremiah 31:31-34 God promised a New Covenant that would permit Him to forgive their wickedness and forget their sins.  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 all who ask and forget all i do.

“Everything that 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.  He has promised to accept all who believe, irrespective of their worthiness.  “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 6:40). He’s also promised to forgive me whenever i confess my sins, even after i’m saved. 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) These are unconditional promises, given by One Who cannot lie. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebr. 13:8).

Just like He did with Israel, the Lord made eternal and unconditional promises to me.  These promises were signed in His own blood, but even so, doubters ignore or re-interpret them, attempting to steal away my certainty.  Turns out the New Testament can be summed up in a single question, “ed, are you going to believe Me or not?”

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