Do you realize that it takes a miracle to forgive? Do you realize how hard it is to forgive others? Do you realize what it takes to be forgiven? Do you realize what it takes to forgive? What does it to to come to the point of realizing that you need to be forgiven? What does it take to let “it” go and to be able to truly forgive someone? How much would it take for you to forgive others? Now, what about you? Do you realize you need to be forgiven too? What would need to happen for you to realize who you need to be forgiven by? Would it take a huge about of guilt? Would it need to get to be as bad as the bitterness and anger it took for you to forgive? Forgiveness is the key to true freedom! Don’t carry around the burden of bitterness and anger! Don’t give the devil a foothold into your life by opening up the door! Ask for forgiveness before the guilt gets unbearable! Offer forgiveness before the bitterness and anger eat you up from the inside out! And don’t keep count or keep track! Remember how Jesus said not 7 times but 7×70 times! He doesn’t want us to keep track!
Do you need forgiveness? Do you realize how important relationships are to God? He even said that if you come to give an offering and realize that your brother or sister has something against you, go and reconcile and then come back to offer your gift. Let’s be ambassadors of peace! Let’s be willing to have the conversations and mitigate the build up of bitterness, anger, or guilt by talking to one another because sometimes the other person doesn’t even realize what they have done and once they do they will apologize and the relationship can be reconciled and restored! Don’t get stuck in the trap of the devil who tells you they don’t deserve it! Instead forgive them for your sake removing the foothold the devil is trying to get a hook into! I have used an example in the past that not forgiving someone is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die, it makes you feel worse and has no affect on them. Forgiveness helps you! It helps when you give it and when you receive it! Jesus provided it with the ultimate sacrifice so we could be reconciled back to God! Will you care enough for others as we are called to love one another to be able to forgive them?
The forgiveness through Jesus tore the curtain giving us direct access to God! So let’s share this opportunity and in this opportunity by being people who forgive and are forgiven! Let’s be people who ask for and give forgiveness! Let’s also not just take forgiveness for granted, but rather take it seriously and work hard to avoid missing the mark and requiring forgiveness! We’ve all missed the mark and hence we need a savior! Jesus came once for all so that we could be rescued, saved, and forgiven!
Breathless Wonder — Day 70: Bible In One Year 2017
Devotional, Psalm 32, Mark 15:33-47, Leviticus 23, Leviticus 24
1. Experience the relief of forgiveness … Psalm 32:1-11
1Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
2Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
5Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
6Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
will not reach them.
7You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
8I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
9Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
10Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.
11Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!
–from Psalm 32
Do you ever find it difficult to forgive other people or even to forgive yourself for something you have done? The key to forgiving others and yourself is, knowing how much God has forgiven you. Forgiven people forgive.
As C.S. Lewis pointed out, ‘To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.’ As far as forgiving ourselves is concerned, he wrote, ‘If God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than him.’
Through Jesus, God has made total forgiveness available to you and me. In this psalm, we see the huge difference that God’s forgiveness makes.
Release from the hand of judgment
David describes the spiritual agony of not being forgiven: ‘My bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer’ (vv.3–4).
Transparency with God
The route to forgiveness is simply to come to the Lord with no mask or pretence: ‘Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord” – and you forgave the guilt of my sin’ (v.5).
A fresh start
David describes the enormous blessing of knowing you are forgiven: ‘Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit’ (vv.1–2).
Imagine that in our diaries were recorded, not just our engagements and meetings, but also all of our sins. The first two verses of this psalm give us three pictures of what God does with your sins. First, ‘the Lord does not count’ your sins against you (v.2). He acts as though they do not exist.
Second, they are ‘covered’ (v.1). It is as if God gets out his heavenly ‘Tipp-Ex’ and covers over the sinful entries in your diary: ‘Your slate’s wiped clean’ (v.1, MSG). Third, they are ‘forgiven’ (v.1a). Literally that word means ‘removed’ or ‘taken away’. The pages relating to your sins are ripped out and destroyed. ‘You get a fresh start’ (v.1, MSG).
The apostle Paul quotes this psalm as evidence that through the death of Jesus for you, God credits you with righteousness by faith and that forgiveness is not something that you can earn by good works (see Romans 4:6-8). Through the cross, God restores you to a right relationship with him. Therefore you can pray to him (Psalm 32:6a). He becomes your ‘hiding-place’ (v.7a). He protects you from trouble (v.7b). He guides you (v.8) and his ‘unfailing love surrounds’ you (v.10).
This is not earned by good works. It comes to the person who trusts in him by faith (v.10). A proper understanding of the Old Testament shows that the path to forgiveness is repentance and faith.
Forgiveness is not a reason to sin – it is an incentive not to sin. We want to stay on God’s paths. He promises that he will guide you: ‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you’ (v.8).
He does not want you to be difficult to guide like a horse or a mule that must be controlled by bit and bridle (v.9). He wants you to avoid the pain of resisting the Holy Spirit. If you follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit you will avoid unnecessary pain. He wants you to hear his voice daily, listen to his instruction, walk in his ways and trust in his love.
from Day 70: Bible In One Year 2017
2. Thank Jesus for paying the price of forgiveness … Mark 15:33-47
33At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
35When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
36Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
37With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
38The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
40Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. 41In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
The Burial of Jesus
42It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.
–from Mark 15
Take time today to thank Jesus for dying for you. Jesus paid a very high price for our forgiveness. Forgiveness is not easy, but Jesus made it possible.
Jesus did die on the cross for you
Sometimes people suggest that Jesus did not really die on the cross but recovered in the cool of the tomb.
However, Pilate checked that he was indeed ‘already dead’ (v.44a). The centurion who had overseen the crucifixion confirmed that Jesus was actually dead. Roman soldiers were experts at carrying out crucifixions. The centurion would also have faced severe punishment himself if he let a living prisoner go.
Joseph of Arimathea ‘took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock’ (v.46). Joseph would have noticed if Jesus was still alive and breathing. He would not have buried a living Jesus.
Jesus was ‘God-forsaken’ because of our sins
‘… darkness came over the whole land’ (v.33). Jesus cried out, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ (v.34a). Mark retains the original Aramaic words of Jesus, which mean, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (v.34b). As we have seen earlier in the Bible in One Year, this is a quote from Psalm 22, which ends with a great victory (see BiOY Day 46).
Jesus opened the way for forgiveness and entry into the presence of God
The curtain of the temple (see in today’s Old Testament passage, Leviticus 24:3), which was what separated people from the presence of God, was torn in two supernaturally by God from top to bottom. It was sixty foot high and at least, one inch thick. The fact that it was torn from top down (where humans could not reach it) emphasises that it was God who caused it to be torn.
This symbolised the fact that through the death of Jesus you are given access to God, because your sins are forgiven. God credits you with righteousness and allows you and me the immense privilege of an intimate relationship with him.
from Day 70: Bible In One Year 2017
3. Understand that forgiveness is earned not by us but for us …
The Appointed Festivals
1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.
3“ ‘There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a sabbath to the Lord.
The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread
4“ ‘These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: 5The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. 6On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. 7On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. 8For seven days present a food offering to the Lord. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’ ”
Offering the Firstfruits
9The Lord said to Moses, 10“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. 11He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. 12On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to the Lord a lamb a year old without defect, 13together with its grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah13 That is, probably about 7 pounds or about 3.2 kilograms; also in verse 17 of the finest flour mixed with olive oil—a food offering presented to the Lord, a pleasing aroma—and its drink offering of a quarter of a hin13 That is, about 1 quart or about 1 liter of wine. 14You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your God. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.
The Festival of Weeks
15“ ‘From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. 16Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord. 17From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the Lord. 18Present with this bread seven male lambs, each a year old and without defect, one young bull and two rams. They will be a burnt offering to the Lord, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings—a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord. 19Then sacrifice one male goat for a sin offering19 Or purification offering and two lambs, each a year old, for a fellowship offering. 20The priest is to wave the two lambs before the Lord as a wave offering, together with the bread of the firstfruits. They are a sacred offering to the Lord for the priest. 21On that same day you are to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.
22“ ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God.’ ”
The Festival of Trumpets
23The Lord said to Moses, 24“Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. 25Do no regular work, but present a food offering to the Lord.’ ”
The Day of Atonement
26The Lord said to Moses, 27“The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves,27 Or and fast; similarly in verses 29 and 32 and present a food offering to the Lord. 28Do not do any work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God. 29Those who do not deny themselves on that day must be cut off from their people. 30I will destroy from among their people anyone who does any work on that day. 31You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. 32It is a day of sabbath rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath.”
The Festival of Tabernacles
33The Lord said to Moses, 34“Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord’s Festival of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. 35The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. 36For seven days present food offerings to the Lord, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present a food offering to the Lord. It is the closing special assembly; do no regular work.
37(“ ‘These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing food offerings to the Lord—the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day. 38These offerings are in addition to those for the Lord’s Sabbaths and38 Or These festivals are in addition to the Lord’s Sabbaths, and these offerings are in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the Lord.)
39“ ‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of sabbath rest, and the eighth day also is a day of sabbath rest. 40On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 41Celebrate this as a festival to the Lord for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. 42Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters 43so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.’ ”
44So Moses announced to the Israelites the appointed festivals of the Lord.
–from Leviticus 23
Olive Oil and Bread Set Before the Lord
1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually. 3Outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, Aaron is to tend the lamps before the Lord from evening till morning, continually. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. 4The lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the Lord must be tended continually.
5“Take the finest flour and bake twelve loaves of bread, using two-tenths of an ephah for each loaf. 6Arrange them in two stacks, six in each stack, on the table of pure gold before the Lord. 7By each stack put some pure incense as a memorial portion to represent the bread and to be a food offering presented to the Lord. 8This bread is to be set out before the Lord regularly, Sabbath after Sabbath, on behalf of the Israelites, as a lasting covenant. 9It belongs to Aaron and his sons, who are to eat it in the sanctuary area, because it is a most holy part of their perpetual share of the food offerings presented to the Lord.”
A Blasphemer Put to Death
10Now the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father went out among the Israelites, and a fight broke out in the camp between him and an Israelite. 11The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name with a curse; so they brought him to Moses. (His mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri the Danite.) 12They put him in custody until the will of the Lord should be made clear to them.
13Then the Lord said to Moses: 14“Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him. 15Say to the Israelites: ‘Anyone who curses their God will be held responsible; 16anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.
17“ ‘Anyone who takes the life of a human being is to be put to death. 18Anyone who takes the life of someone’s animal must make restitution—life for life. 19Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: 20fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury. 21Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a human being is to be put to death. 22You are to have the same law for the foreigner and the native-born. I am the Lord your God.’ ”
23Then Moses spoke to the Israelites, and they took the blasphemer outside the camp and stoned him. The Israelites did as the Lord commanded Moses.
–from Leviticus 24
We see in the Old Testament how seriously sin is taken. It is not a trivial matter. And forgiveness is not to be taken for granted.
Justice required an equivalence: ‘Life for life’ (24:18); ‘fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth’ (v.20). This was never intended for personal relationships but for the law courts to prevent escalating violence.
It showed the need of the appropriateness of a penalty for sin (incidentally, it was under the law of blasphemy, vv.10–16, that Jesus himself was condemned to death as we saw in Mark 14:64).
Again, in this passage we see Jesus’ death foreshadowed. Forgiveness of sins requires sacrifice, it requires a lamb. The lamb must be perfect, ‘without defect’ (Leviticus 23:12).
As we have seen (BiOY Day 43 and Day 66), St Paul describes Jesus as ‘our Passover lamb [who] has been sacrificed’ (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Forgiveness cannot be earned by us. On the Day of Atonement, ‘atonement is made for you’ (Leviticus 23:28). It is not made by you but for you. This is the radical and revolutionary teaching of the whole Bible. When you understand how forgiveness is made possible through Jesus, it takes your breath away and it totally transforms your life.
from Day 70: Bible In One Year 2017