“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.” – Isaiah 43:25 (NASB)
“I can forgive but I’ll never forget.” Have we ever heard someone say this? Maybe, we say it as well thinking that it is close to impossible to truly forget. It’s possible but we have to want to. Forgiveness, we can do, but if we can’t forget, the offense remains a thing and threatens to negates our forgiveness. Our Lord God declares in our verse today that He wipes out our sins and purposely removes them from His memory. This verse is probably the high point of grace in the Old Testament. In spite of our utter unworthiness, the Lord in His grace has created a way that He can forgive our sins and grant righteousness without compromising His holiness. When as a sinner we recognize we can’t achieve our own righteousness by works, and in repentance call on the mercy of God, the Lord covers us with His own divine righteousness by grace. Through the faith he gifts to us, we stand forgiven. It is that righteousness that God sees when He looks upon us. We can forgive and by the same grace we can choose to forget by refusing to dwell on the memories.
“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 (ESV)
Let’s take a look at a promise we find in a Scripture verse that has been quoted, sung and used in many ways. Most times it is used like a call for HELP! From folks in our country. When circumstances are not the best this verse is turned to as if it is a direct promise to all who call on God. It can be but it also might not apply. The context is Israel at the time of the dedication of the Temple built by Solomon. God give a prophetic warning because He knows His people will fall into disobedience to His Word. “Then,” says God, “I’ll stop the rain and send spoil your crops.” But for them and for us God gave a recourse, five steps to the blessing. First our standing – “called by my name.” Second, our posture – “humbled.” Third our action – “pray”. Fourth next action – “seek God’s face.” Fifth another action – “turn (repent) of our wickedness.” If we claim to have no wickedness, we lie. (1 John 1:6) When we want to use this promise as a means to restore our nations, we are obligated to first to the Five Steps.
“They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.” Nehemiah 9:17 (ESV)
The company of people in this passage, had resisted the wonderful and miraculous acts God had done for them. After 400 years as slaves in Egypt, God freed them and led them out from under Egyptian oppression. But the Children of Israel were stubborn, stiff-necked and rejected God’s plan. Where He might have said, “Alright then, go your way and be damned for all I care.” Or, perhaps, “I did all this for you and this is how you show thanks and appreciation to Me?” But God is not like that. God forgives graciously and shows mercy. He doesn’t lose His temper and his love toward us is unfailing. God does not forsake us when we refuse to remember what He has done to rescue us from death and eternal separation from Him. And fail to acknowledge what He does for us each day. The list of what God did for Israel is long as is the failures in response. Even when we idolize someone or something other than God, He does not forsake us in our wildernesses. Great promises should encourage us to remain faithful by the grace He gives us.