Punishment and Forgiveness

I’ve recently finished some Bible reading in the book of Judges. My goodness! Can’t a group of people stay faithful to God? What gives? He’s right there! I don’t think He could be any more obvious! The people of Israel were following God, but they didn’t follow everything. So the little bit they didn’t do ended up creeping in and getting bigger. So they stopped worshiping only God, and worshiped fake gods.

God had already told them before that if they worshiped other gods, they would be punished. God is God, no one and nothing else is. It is not good for anyone to worship that which is not God. But the people of Israel did it anyway. So they were punished.

Well, it isn’t fun to be punished. So in the midst of their punishment, the people of Israel looked at themselves and said, “We are wrong.” They agreed with God and repented. They begged for God’s forgiveness and deliverance. So God gave it to them.

But then the people went and did the same thing again, worshiping false gods and doing what was right in their own eyes. So God had to punish them again. It was not good for them to do the things they were doing, and God had to teach them this. Once again, the Israelites repented and God forgave them. This happened multiple times. But each time, God forgave them.

At some point, one might wonder if God’s patience is going to run out. Mine probably would have. “I told you not to do this, but you did. You realized it was wrong, turned around, and I forgave you. And then you did it again! Not just once, but many times!”

We get frustrated at the accounts we read in the Bible, but don’t we do the same things? God has set very clear rules, commands, and guidelines, yet we ignore, discard, and break them all the time.

But if we are sorry and agree with God about our sin, then He will forgive us. For as long as you live, if you ask God to forgive you, He will – every time.

Now don’t you dare use this as an excuse or “get out of sin’s consequences free” card. Galatians 5:13 and the context around it specifically state that you should not use the liberty of God’s grace as an excuse. Because you have this grace, you should live better.

Much like the Israelites did, we have a tendency to forget how good God has been and is being. We take this goodness and forgiveness for granted and do not appreciate them. So we fall into sin and God must correct us. In Job 5:17 and Proverbs 3:12, God tells us that He corrects His children because He loves us. Like a loving parent, God doesn’t want His children to do bad things that are bad for them and for those around them. He wants His children to do what is right and good. Sometimes punishment is required to teach us because we are so stubborn.

But also like a loving parent, God wants us to be restored to Him. When the punishment is over and forgiveness has been asked and given, then it is over and done. We have learned (or at least we should have), and we can enjoy our relationship with God once more.

Just like a parent who tells their child not to touch the stove or the electrical socket, God tells us not to do certain things. When a child disobeys, punishment must be dealt. A little punishment now is better than being burned or electrocuted later.

God gives each human being the ability and freedom to choose. Because He loves us, He wants us to make the right choice.


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