The Cost of Forgiveness

 I see children almost daily who need to say they are sorry for their transgressions, but it is usually the kind of little things that need to be let go. I’ve taught them that when someone is mean to them, you can show them kindness as a way to get over what happened, especially if they already got their consequence. These are two levels of what we call “Forgiveness.”

Level 1, is for the little stuff, just “let it go!” “It’s okay.” is another way of saying this.

Level 2, is for the stuff that people do against you and get the consequences for: instead of rubbing it in their faces, you show them the kindness of your face that says, “I still wanna be your friend.” “I forgive you.” is a good way of saying this. This forgiveness is quite powerful at restoring relationships.

Level 3 is hard. Level 3 is the forgiveness we extend to people who we can’t let it go what they did, and we also haven’t seen them get their consequences yet. It’s also the level that is meant for the one who is not sorry or has not voiced it. Level 3 forgiveness is costly, and also very difficult.

An example of this forgiveness can hopefully be seen in this example about two boys: One summer, A boy was riding on his bicycle down a wooded path, and he took a turn toward a crowd of kids. All the kids got out of the way except one, who stood his ground. The biking kid swerved to miss him and hit a tree. The bike was seriously damaged, but the kid riding it was unhurt. Nevertheless, he was furious. He picked up his bike over to the kid who had stood in his way and threw it on top of the kid, knocking him to the ground. The other kids called out, “Fight, fight! and made a circle. The riding kid stood waiting for the kid to get back up and fight. But the kid under the bike looked back at him and looked around at the other boys calling for blood. The boy got up with the bike the wheel was bent so that it could not rotate. He looked at the bike and he looked at the boy who owned it. With a sigh, he started dragging the bike toward the circle of surrounding kids. But when he got to them, he picked up the bike and carried it on his shoulder with one wheel in front and one wheel in back. The boys said, “Where are you going?”

– – “I’m going to get it fixed,” he said. The crowd of kids parted and stared at him. “Is that his bike?” one kid asked. “No.” said another kid. The boy who owned the bike was confused. He wondered if he was ever going to get that bike back. Or if he would get in trouble for almost hitting the boy, or throwing the bike at him.

– – A week later there was a knock at the door of the kid who owned the bike, and when he opened the door, there on the porch was his now-fixed bike. It looked brand new!

This story isn’t true that I know of, but I hope it shows the point I’m trying to get across. The third level of forgiveness was shown by the kid who stood his ground, who picked up the boy’s bike, carried it, and gave it back to him fixed. The key idea in this level of forgiveness is the word carry. It is when a person who is wronged doesn’t take vengeance for himself, but accepts the wrong being done, and himself or herself carries the problem of the one who wronged him because he loves the one who wronged.

Level 3 forgiveness can be found in the Hebrew Word, Nassa. It means “to forgive,” or “to carry” or “to lift” depending on the context. This deep level of forgiveness that carries the wrong of the one who commits the wrong, is a character quality that God uses to describe himself in the Old Testament. ”

Exodus 34:6-7–“Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”

Yahweh is the God who is not only the just judge who will not leave the guilty unpunished, but he is also the one bearing with, and taking on himself the sins of those people who have wronged him, until the day when their judgment comes. The clearest picture of this I can see, is Jesus carrying the cross, and in that cross the sin of the whole world, so that the sin of all who believe and repent might be forgiven.

Application:

Jesus said, “If anyone seeks to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” I see a God who has shown us the way to forgive, by himself doing it. He bore with those who sin, both knowing that one day there will be a judgment on them if they don’t repent and desiring them to repent so they do not come into judgment. This is Forgiveness level 3. And it is the most beautiful picture of love.

This may seem impossible, especially if you yourself have been in this position of being wronged and remain so unjustly, but the Holy Spirit empowers the one who obey’s Jesus’ command. This is how to do it.

  1. Pray for them. “Pray for those who mistreat you.” Jesus said. This is the secret way God gives supernatural insight into the heart of the one who wronged you. Jesus showed us this, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” ~Mark 15
  2. Trust God’s justice and timing. “Though he reviled, did not revile in return but entrusted him to the God who judges righteously.”
  3. Work for their benefit. “If your enemy is hungry feed him, and if he is thirsty give him a drink, for in doing so, you will heap burning coals upon his head, and God will reward you.” ~Hebrews 12.

Final thought, remember, “If you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:15

Worship Restoring God’s Image

Background:

Some passages in certain books of the Bible show God’s intentions toward humanity up-close and personal. Exodus 34 is one of them.

The story up to this point is God has established Abraham’s family to represent Him in His fallen world, and he has just delivered them from the nation of Egypt who enslaved them. The people, however, prove to be stubborn and rebellious of heart, when He brings their complaining souls to Mount Sinai and makes a covenant with them. While Moses goes up on the mountain of God for 40 days and 40 nights to get the Tabernacle instructions, the people brazenly rebel right in front of God’s presence by degrading God’s living glorious image to that of a calf made of gold. God is so insulted, He is ready to start over with just Moses, but Moses intercedes, and God changes His mind. Moses punishes the people, but God still will not Himself go with the people, or He’ll consume them.

Moses goes back to God for another 40 days and 40 nights to plead on behalf of Israel, and settle a new covenant with Israel. And here he asks the most daring request a human could ask of God, “Please let me see your glory.” God responds by telling him, he can see His goodness, and hear His name, but He cannot see His face. God prepares the new covenant, and bases it on, not just what he’s done for Israel, but upon His own character. He passes in front of Moses telling Moses His name and all that it means, and Moses responds by hurrying to bow and worship.

The name of Yahweh

How does God describe Himself?

  1. Yahweh–I am. He exists. He simply is, was, and ever will be.
  2. El–God. Creator, Judge, Powerful, Ruler.
  3. Rahum–Compassionate–Characterized by the tender feeling of the heart toward those who are suffering: also the tender feeling a Father has for his children.
  4. Hanun–Graicous–With a face shining full of favor.
  5. Erek-Aphaim–Slow-angered. He has a long fuse.
  6. Rav Hessed v Emeth–Abounding in Love and Truth. All that is in God is full to overflowing with Loyal love and truth
  7. Notser Hessed lelaphim–Keeping Loyal love to thousands. He keeps His commitments to all.
  8. Nose’ avon, vpesha’ vhattath–Forgiving wickedness, transgression, and sin. The Hebrew word Nasa’ has the connotation of Carry. It is not the Hebrew Idea of letting go of a sin, but the idea of bearing with the person who is sinning, transgressing, and acting wickedly against.
  9. V’Nakeh Lo yinakeh— By no means letting the guilty go unpunished. He will justly execute His wrath upon all.
  10. Paqed avon avoth al b’ney, v al b’ney b’nim al Shaleshim, vraveyim. Visiting the transgressions of the fathers on the children and children’s children to the third and fourth.

Dreadful and Glorious. God of the Old Testament showed Moses exactly what He is like.

Moses Response

Moses hurried and bowed down and worshiped. (Vs. 8) For an creature of earth to be thrust back into the fiery mantle from which the dust came, would be less terrifying than for a human made in the image of God, to come to know the one whose image he bears. Fullness of Joy, and utter dread. Worship– This is the melting in God’s presence in which all of our unworthiness is exposed like silver dross, and the Image is recast to that which it was originally intended to represent. The people of Israel cast a calf, and therefore exchanged God’s glory for the lesser glory of a creature of earth. (See Romans 1:23) But here Moses was before God’s glorious good presence and name, and he worshiped. He wrote down all that God commanded him on two stone tablets, and came down the mountain.

The Result

Moses’ face shone radiant light from being in the presence of Yahweh. (Vs. 29) He did not know it, but the people feared to go near Him. Did he glow like the moon or like the Sun?

  • In Daniel, the righteous are told that their faces shone out “Like the brightness of the expanse of Heaven forever and ever.”
  • In Matthew, this is translated as “The righteous will shine like the Sun.” Matthew 13:43
  • In Matthew 17, Jesus’ face shines like the Sun on the Transfiguration mount.
  • Acts 6:15 Stephen’s face looked like the face of an angel, and he looked up and saw the glory of God. Acts 7:54
  • 2 Corinthians 3:18 says of the believer, “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
  • A little later in his letter, Paul expresses, “The God who said, ‘Light will shine out of darkness’ is the God who has shone in our heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

It is safe to say Moses’ face shone like the sun. But how? God had restored the image of His glory in humanity in Moses here for a short while. How except by the revelation of Himself and Worship?

Worship is how God restores His image on earth. And if he restores His image on earth, He restores the earth. Only . . . through fire.