WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
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FAITH DURING CONSEQUENCES
(Despite GOD’s mercy and forgiveness, sin still has consequences)
In the biblical Greek, the word used for “longsuffering” is “makrothumia”, and it describes a spirit that “never grows irritated”, “never despairs”, and “never regards anyone as being beyond salvation”. The negative reaction by the Israelites and the ten scouts, toward GOD, angered GOD to the point where HE was ready to destroy all of them immediately. However, here in this passage, Moses prays a prayer of intercession, one of many that he would have to pray for the people over the years, and he pleaded with GOD not to destroy them.
Also in this passage, GOD, once again demonstrating HIS “longsuffering SPIRIT” for HIS human creation, granted Moses’ petition to “not punish the people with immediate death”. However, the ten scouts (all tribal leaders of Israel) who talked the people against GOD, were not spared, and were all punished with immediate death (Vs.13-19). Death was the only judgment and consequence available to “false leadership” in the community of GOD back then, and it still is today.
GOD also granted the people of Israel their wish that “they would rather die in the wilderness than face the Canaanites” as HE had instructed them to do (Vs.26-38). And GOD caused them to wander in that wilderness for the next forty years, one year for each day (40 days) that the scouts had explored the land of Canaan. Their actions had proven that they feared the Canaanites nephilim (giants) more than they feared GOD, WHO had miraculously destroyed their oppressors in Egypt less than three years earlier, right before their very eyes.
“Sin” is a “disobedience” that always begins in “the thinking stages”. If we “repent” for our sins while still in the thinking stages, in other words, “change our mind” (which is the true definition of the word “repent”), before we actually “commit the physical act”, there is “no consequences” to those thoughts. However, once we let our “sinful thoughts” become reality we must deal with the “consequences” of those sins, sometimes for years to come.
GOD wants us to “repent” (“metanoia” in the biblical Greek), “change our mind”, before we actually commit “the physical act of sin”. Once we commit the physical act, we then have to deal with the “judgment” (“consequences”) of that sinful physical act, which has to “run its course”, or, “manifest its results physically and mentally” before we are truly “restored” back “spiritually” into a relationship of friendship with GOD.
However, even during “the consequence stages” of our sin, we still need to maintain our faith, trust, and reverence in the LORD. We need GOD, not only in order to survive those consequences, but also to strengthen us that we may have a better chance to “go and sin no more”. That right! Once GOD restores us through CHRIST JESUS, HE fully expects us to do that, “go and sin no more”.
The LORD forgives us time and time again for our disobedience, which is caused by our lack of fear, faith, and trust in HIM. And there will always be consequences to disobedience that must run their course before we can receive any future “special” (not ordinary) blessings from GOD. Without “faith”, it is impossible to please GOD. And we must please GOD with our behavior if we want HIM to endorse us with HIS blessing, or “special favor”.
Whenever we sin, “our relationship with GOD is interrupted”. This was true in the Old Testament times, and it is still true today. Whenever we fall into sin, we must repent and ask GOD for forgiveness, which HE is faithful to grant. After we’ve received GOD’s forgiveness, the consequences of our sin must still run its course before we are fully restored back into a right relationship with HIM.
One of the many special contributions to mankind that JESUS’ vicarious sacrifice on the cross brings us, is that, we are no longer, necessarily, under the threat of immediate and certain death for our sins, as the people in Old Testament times often were. Because of JESUS’ sacrifice on the cross, perhaps we now receive even more of GOD’s wonderful and abounding grace than ever before, and HE gives us many, many, more opportunities today to come to the “saving knowledge of CHRIST”.
There remains for those who are faithful, a very possible way to enter into the unknown territory (for man), where JESUS had to go in order to save us from ourselves, and emerge victoriously through our strength in HIM. In addition, GOD lends us HIS HOLY SPIRIT, WHO will always lead us in the right direction, because HE knows no other way. And if we trust in HIS counsel, HE will carry us well beyond our own capabilities, and well beyond our own, self-imposed, limitations.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website