to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice
July 01, 2019 – Monday
Nehemiah 9:29-31 NIV
29 “You warned them in order to turn them back to Your law, but they became arrogant and disobeyed Your commands. They sinned against Your ordinances, of which You said, ‘The person who obeys them will live by them.’ Stubbornly they turned their backs on You, became stiff-necked and refused to listen. 30 For many years You were patient with them. By Your Spirit You warned them through Your prophets. Yet they paid no attention, so You gave them into the hands of the neighboring peoples. 31 But in Your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for You are a gracious and merciful God.
Friday’s Verse if the Day noted it was from what is believed to be the longest prayer in the Bible – verses 5 through 37 – containing 1,141 words in the NIV. Today we look at a few more excerpts from that same prayer. Today’s first excerpt begins with God’s warning as we approach the end of this prayer. God never to my knowledge punishes without first providing a warning. Thus we read here You warned them in order to turn them back to Your law then You said, ‘The person who obeys them will live by them.’ Further on For many years You were patient with them. By Your Spirit You warned them through Your prophets.
What happened to God’s prophets? Let’s go back a bit to verse 26 few to find out:
“But they were disobedient and rebelled against You; they turned their backs on Your law. They killed Your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to You; they committed awful blasphemies. And then in the very next verse So You delivered them into the hands of their enemies, who oppressed them. But when they were oppressed they cried out to You. From heaven You heard them, and in Your great compassion You gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies.
If you are thinking this sound very familiar to today’s Verse of the Day, you are correct and in fact the intervening verse states that this happened time after time.
28 “But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in Your sight. Then You abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to You again, You heard from heaven, and in Your compassion You delivered them time after time.
This is something we find difficult to comprehend for we would soon tire of forgiving anyone after they had turned their backs on us a number of times. But God is not us! He never turns away from a repentant heart (Guzik). Thus when Peter asked Jesus
“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22
How serious was Jesus about forgiveness? In this chapter of Matthew Jesus continues on with the parable of an unforgiving servant who was himself forgiven of a terrible debt of ten thousand bags of gold to his master. Once forgiven, with the debt canceled, this servant then refused to forgive the debt of another to him of one hundred silver coins. He had the man thrown into prison. Word got back to his master and Jesus concluded the parable with this
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
We serve a wonderful gracious and merciful God who has forgiven us our sins by having them nailed to the cross. When Jesus said It is finished (John 19:30) it was the ancient Greek word tetelestai, the cry of a winner. Guzik provides a number quotes about this – here are two of them.
“It was a Conqueror’s cry; it was uttered with a loud voice. There is nothing of anguish about it, there is no wailing in it. It is the cry of One who has completed a tremendous labor.” (Spurgeon)
“The verb telew (teleo, ‘to finish’) was used in first and second centuries in the sense of ‘fulfilling’ or ‘paying’ a debt and often appeared in receipts. Jesus’ statement ‘It is finished’ (tetelestai, tetelestai) could be interpreted as ‘Paid in full.’” (Tenney)
So again, what does this say about us and our need to forgive? We need to be about the Lord’s business and that clearly includes forgiving those who have sinned against us.
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Mark 11:25
But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:15
All of our sins have been forgiven, every single one, and now we are expect to do the same. It’s Monday and I hope you have a great week thinking on the forgiveness.
RileyD, nwJ (to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice)