16 October 2016

Amazing grace: Being edited



Many of us Jewish people spent hours and hours the last couple weeks dealing with personal issues, repenting of sins committed, and asking God and others to forgive us. We anticipated that God, who set up these High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, would be somewhat vested in being there on the other end of the long phone call to Him.

There was talk about judgment and about eternity; there was consideration of repairing the breach and making things right. It was deep, emotional, considerate. And all the while, many in the row in front of us or behind us, or who never even darkened the doorway to enter the synagogue, seemed to be less inclined to dig deep and ponder what was hitting us so deeply. Should they be so sure that their prayers or thoughts were heard by the very busy Almighty? What is their take-away from all this religious activity?

I saw this above image of the editing erasure on another blog yesterday. It struck me personally. When I talk to God, in prayer, asking for forgiveness, is my sin really erased? Did He just edit the history of my life? Or will I have to carry this around with me for weeks, months, forever? I wonder, does the Scripture have anything to say to me, or is it even trustworthy as a psychological advisory book?

If I listen to sensible and powerful voices in history, I would be well advised, even if I knock back the Bible. Gandhi says that the strong are the forgivers. My impression is that God is Strong, so He must want to forgive.

On Google, I found this one, "If God didn't forgive sinners, heaven would be empty." That's especially clear. And powerful to ponder. After all, Alexander Pope wrote, "to err is human, to forgive, divine." Well, I'm human and very capable and very erring. So I'm especially glad for God's forgiveness. Or shall I expect it after all?

So let's look at a couple citations from that mysterious book of life, the Tenach, and see what it might say.
"The priest shall also make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the LORD for his sin which he has committed, and the sin which he has committed will be forgiven him." (Leviticus 19.22) "Nislach lo" is the Hebrew. It will be forgiven him. Wow, just like that. A forgiveness because of some animal substitute, a forgiveness which knows the satisfaction of the judicial system. A forgiveness granted, and (perhaps) received.

Later in Torah Moses commands the priests to pray this prayer, "Forgive Your people Israel whom You have redeemed, O LORD, and do not place the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of Your people Israel.’ And the bloodguiltiness shall be forgiven them. So you shall remove the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, when you do what is right in the eyes of the LORD."(Deuteronomy 21.8-9) Someone has to pray; someone has to intercede; someone has to do right.

King David well knew his own nature of loving God and yet failing Him miserably. We read His personal comfort with this from Psalm 32. "How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!" And Isaiah the prophet was convinced of his own sins, his own wrong talking, lashon hara, and found God's grace. He reported it as follows: "He touched my mouth with a burning coal and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” (6.7)

It takes an agent of forgiveness, a bloody sacrifice, a mediator, and humility to make this all 'work.' Maybe that's why Jewish people like me are fascinated by and eventually succumb to the amazing grace of God revealed in His Messiah, Yeshua. He has done it all for us. We enter by faith into that reality, and we find real peace.

No wonder Rabbi Saul of Tarsus (some call him the Apostle Paul) said this, "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Messiah also has forgiven you." (Ephesians 4.32) We learn forgiveness from the One who forgave us. We treat others as we have been treated.

Being edited makes sense, then. And grace is truly amazing when you experience that. Will you do so just now? Receive God's love in Yeshua, and ask Him to forgive you. That is His desire. He did it all for you.

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