Sunday, March 12, 2006

Leviticus 26:43-45

"The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes.
And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the Lord their God.
But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the Lord."
Leviticus 26:43-45

I think this is interesting. God is talking in this chapter about his people going astray, and that if they are humble, admit their faults, and accept their punishment, that he will remember them.  I find it interesting, because most of the time I think of repentance as a free ride. :) ... It is definitely hard to repent, but then, once it is done, it's over... free ticket to the rest of your life.  But here God talks about accepting punishment for iniquity, because in the past his people (we) have despised his laws. ... And it's true.  We have to accept punishments, sometimes just in the form of natural consequences for our actions, but sometimes perhaps more. ... If you conceive a child out of wedlock, for example, even if you repent immediately and never return to your sin... and no matter what your decisions about the child are... there are still consequences for your actions that you will have to deal with for a long time.  I think that this is true for all sin, to a greater or lesser degree.  When we commit sin, we've gotten our priorities wrong... and even if we say sorry immediately, never do it again... we still have to correct that mental/emotional balance... change our minds and our hearts, before we are going to be able to be "back to normal."
These verses talk about God remembering us, despite everything, when we are in the land of our enemies... and at least in a symbolic sense, don't we place ourselves in the land of our enemy when we commit sin? ... And God will remember us, and show mercy to us, even in the worst circumstances imaginable... but we have to do our part as well.  We have to do the work... spiritual, mental, emotional, AND physical sometimes, in order to get ourselves back on the path.  That requires suffering sometimes, and sacrifice.   God doesn't want us to be in pain... I don't think he ever wants that, but if we don't heed his warnings to avoid sin in the first place (and unfortunately none of us are perfect in that regard), then there IS pain, and there are other consequences.   Let's work on being humble enough to accept the burdens that we've brought upon ourselves, and once we've accepted them... it becomes so much easier to bear them cheerfully, and to eventually rid ourselves of them. :)   God is always there to help us along the way.

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