Can you imagine living in a time where you had to follow a set of rules with not so stellar leaders as role models? Well those were the times that the Israelites lived in as recorded in the book of 2nd Kings. They had leaders that led them astray with idolatry and perversion and even though the rulers of those times got what they deserved, the Israelites shared in the consequences of the sins of their leaders. Back in those days, many sins and transgressions were not forgiven by God. Notable among them were idolatry, burning children as sacrifices to gods, and of course disobedience… don’t get me started on disobedience. In those days there was a swiftness with which God exacted punishment on rule breakers, a swiftness that we may not necessarily experience today because of the grace of God. I think this week I discovered one of the scariest phrases ever written in scripture:
…and the LORD was not willing to forgive. 2 Kings 24: 4 NIV
As I ponder the stories I encountered in the book of 2nd Kings, I wonder if most of those people who met a sad fate had never heard of the word repentance. Most of these people received warnings from God through his prophets about what fate they would meet because of their disobedience or wickedness or whatever atrocities they had committed and I wonder if they were that ignorant about the fact that they could turn back to God, or were they just resigned to their fate? Was repentance even an option then?
It is very interesting that our fate (outside of Christ) is not very different from those of old… Unlike them though, the option of repentance has been made so readily available for the same transgressions that God was previously unwilling to forgive. It costs us nothing (except maybe our pride) and as an added bonus, the grace of God affords us the gift of time to “bypass” swift justice and yet many of us do not seem to value the fact that we have been afforded such a precious gift!
As I ponder all of this, I have come to value the ability to go before God and confess and repent of my wrong doings. What a blessed state and dispensation to live in… How precious it is that I can go before God and say I am sorry and instead of an “I am unwilling to forgive” response, I can leave with an assurance of being forgiven as well as being refreshed (Acts 3: 19-20)…WHAAAAT!!!!! That is amazing.
Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Acts 3:19 NLT