Sins affect us so slowly that we do not realize it. Take Israel as an example.
Israel rebelled against Yahwah, and one king after another was evil. Notice how many evil kings it took before Yahwah’s patience ran out and He judged the people. More than 20!
For 400 years, Yahwah had patience on them. But they did not know He was patient. They mistook His patience for non-existence. They no longer believed in Yahwah, so He allowed them to be defeated by the Assyrians time and again.
3 But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?
4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,
6 who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS:
7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;
8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.
Since the children of Israel did not know the God of their fathers, they began seeking help from idols. They did not even realize the Assyrians were the judgment of Yahwah.
2 Chronicles 28:22-25
22 Now in the time of his distress this same King Ahaz became yet more unfaithful to Yahwah.
23 For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which had defeated him, and said, “Because the gods of the kings of Aram helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.” But they became the downfall of him and all Israel.
24 Moreover, when Ahaz gathered together the utensils of the house of God, he cut the utensils of the house of God in pieces; and he closed the doors of the house of Yahwah and made altars for himself in every corner of Jerusalem.
25 In every city of Judah he made high places to burn incense to other gods, and provoked Yahwah, the God of his fathers, to anger.
When good King Hezekiah began to reign, he persuaded all of Israel to come together again and return to Yahwah. The people of Israel, and even the religious leaders like the priests and Levites, were unclean and unprepared to serve in the Temple and join in the events of Passover.
The Law of Yahwah that was given to Moses states that the holy days of Passover must begin on the 14th day of the Month 1. The Law also states that all those who participate in the Passover must do a specific ceremony for cleansing and preparation. The people of Israel did not all do this. They could not prepare for the holy day by the specified date, so King Hezekiah delayed Passover by one month. Not everyone in Israel could or knew how to cleanse themselves according to the Law of Yahwah. When Passover came, some of Israel were not ready. But King Hezekiah prayed to Yahwah.
2 Chronicles 30
17 For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves; therefore, the Levites were over the slaughter of the Passover lambs for everyone who was unclean, in order to consecrate them to Yahwah.
18 For a multitude of the people, even many from Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun, had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than prescribed. For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May good Yahwah pardon
19 everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, Yahwah God of his fathers, though not according to the purification rules of the sanctuary.”
20 So Yahwah heard Hezekiah and healed the people.
So Yahwah forgave the people! Forgiveness does not come through the Law but through repentance. Repentance is a change of heart. This is when God purified them from sin and purifies us from sin.
Notice that a changed lifestyle follows after a change of heart. All Israel obliterated their idols and returned to Yahwah (2 Chronicles 31).
After Passover, Assyria came up against Jerusalem and thought to take them as slaves, just as it had happened before to other parts of Israel. However, a changed lifestyle receives God’s protection from this world, and an angel of Yahwah descended to earth and slaughtered every solider in the army of Assyria (2 Chronicles 32:1, 20-23).
What does this mean to us?
- Do not think sin has no consequences.
- Do not mistake Yahwah’s patience as His carelessness or non-existence.
- Do not think you can do any good work to impress Yahwah with your holiness.
- Ask Yahwah for forgiveness first and realize that disobedience is sin.
- Yahwah promised to forgive us. He promised to be with us. He did this by becoming man and paying our penalty under the Old Covenant and by starting a New Covenant with us.
- A changed lifestyle receives God’s salvation.
11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.
14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.