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Waiting to forgive!
- Jacob Ninan
God loves us with a love that lasts forever (Je.31:3). His mercies endure forever (Ps.106:1). But sometimes we don't receive that mercy because we don't acknowledge our sins (Je.3:13). He longs to be gracious to us (Is.30:18), but sometimes He can't extend His grace to us because we refuse to surrender to Him but continue to run in our own ways (vv.15,16). Perhaps we are so ashamed of our sins that we feel He may not forgive us, or we think that our sins are so big that He cannot forgive them. But all the time He is waiting, like the father for the prodigal son, to forgive us, accept us back, and then to shower His goodness upon us!
There is no sin so great that the blood of Jesus cannot wash it away. The blood of the eternal Son of God who became the sinless Son of Man can wash us from all our sins, and it is more than sufficient in value to pay the ransom for the whole world (1Jn.1:7;2:2). The so-called unforgivable sin or sin against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable because someone chooses to ignore the promptings and conviction of the Spirit and to turn against Him. But if anyone goes to Jesus in repentance he can have the assurance that Jesus would never turn him away (Jn.6:37).
Manasseh, king of Judah, was one who made the people do more evil than what the heathen nations around them did (2Ch.33:9). Yet he repented when the Lord touched his life, and when he humbled himself before the Lord, the Lord forgave him (vv.12,13). Peter who walked with Jesus for 3 1/2 years denied Him three times at the end, but when he humbled himself he was not only forgiven but used by God to lead the early church! What could God have done with Judas Iscariot if only he had repented, instead of assuming that there could be no forgiveness for him!
Why did God wait 120 long years for Noah to build the ark and then destroy the world? To give a very long chance for the people to listen to Noah's warnings and repent! Why did it have to take 40 years for the people of Israel to reach the Promised Land after they left Egypt? Of course they could have entered much earlier, because they came very near before God turned them away to wander in the wilderness. God did that because they would not trust in Him to take them in against the opposition from the giants in the land. All of them perished in the wilderness except Joshua and Caleb who believed, and the children of these who died. Imagine what could have happened if any of these people who perished had chosen before they died to repent and turn back to God! God would have forgiven them too, because He was waiting for them to return to Him for 40 years!
Thankfully our God is a good God, waiting to shower His grace upon us, and not one who will strictly and legalistically hold on to the letter of His words. His justice will always call for punishment for sin, but His mercy will always triumph when a sinner goes to Him in humility and repentance (Ro.2:4;Jas.2:13).