Moses gives the people a message of hope; a message of restoration. But that message means that there was a failure first.
“When”, not “if.” God KNEW His people were not going to be able to maintain His covenant long term. He knew they would fall away. And He prepared for it.
God prepared in more than one way. He prepared for the short term covenant issues by incorporating forgiveness into the very fabric of His Law. This is seen in the sin offering. He KNEW that this offering was going to be made again and Again and AGAIN by His people. Not just by one person or one group but by EVERY person who sought Him; except One. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). He put the restorative power of this offering in place to hold us near to Him until His ultimate work could be completed.
Jesus came for this very reason. NO man can completely live up to God’s standard. We WILL fall short in some way. But Jesus took the penalty of our sins on Himself. He made a way for full forgiveness. Not covered over sin but washed away instead.
What Moses was sharing with the people was hope after their sin had led them so far down the path away from God that He had to act on His word. This wasn’t a simple slip one day but a pattern that the whole nation would fall into. As a whole they would turn away from God. But He KNEW too that they would come back searching for Him.
He knew that the memories and stories of the past would draw the people back to Him. I think that’s why He included the Holy days in His commandments. He wanted them to remember because when they remembered then they would desire a return of the days of blessings. And to get the blessings they would remember the One who authored them. THEN they would seek Him.
I was just thinking about God calling us back to Him and was reminded of when I sit on my porch and call my cat. My cat doesn’t come when I call his name. We have a special way of reaching out to one another. I usually call him when I haven’t seen him for some time and I want to know that he is still safe. I sit on the porch and meow as LOUD as I can. It is a mournful cry. I don’t go out searching for him because I have no idea where he might be but I know he can hear my voice wherever he is. I stay there calling out to him until he comes. I don’t give up. It may take a minute or it may take 15 minutes but he ALWAYS comes. And when he comes he is rewarded with love.
When my cat wants something from me he uses the same technique. He comes to me and meows until I follow him. He will lead me either to his food bowl or his milk bowl then sit down and KNOW that I will attend to his need. Often he will sit by his milk bowl first thing in the morning and just look at me then at his bowl. He doesn’t have to tell me his need because he trusts that I already know it.
God calls out to us to come home. Those who have heard His stories will recognize His voice. It may take a little bit or it may take a LONG time but His children WILL come. They can’t physically come at this point because of where their wandering has taken them but He responds to their heart’s returning as surely as I respond to my cat’s physical return. He then promises to bring them physically back to the place He prepared for them. He brings them home.
If you every had any doubt of God being able to do this for Israel, take a look at history. How many times has this one little nation been captured, taken away, and then returned to rise again? The most recent example was after World War II. There wasn’t a nation named Israel any longer but there were still descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God moved on the world to recreate that nation. Jews poured back into the “Promised Land” from every corner of the globe. They had turned back to Him as a people and He had kept His word.
Those of us who are Gentile believers have that same promise. If we turn from our sin He will forgive us and restore us. We don’t have the same Law to follow but we follow its spirit in the commandments Jesus gave. That is the “Law” we follow. Not the one that cannot save but the Law of love Jesus lived for us.
All it takes to receive His forgiveness is to turn your heart back to Him; or turn to Him for the first time. He is waiting. He is calling. And He is willing to wrap His arms around you and bring you back into fellowship with Him.
Father God, thank You for ALL the times You restored me. The most memorable ones were my wilderness times. I know You were right there all the time but I had my head buried in my own sin. THANK YOU that You NEVER stopped calling. Thank You that I finally heard you above the noise of my own behavior. Thank You that You didn’t leave me where I was but brought me physically back to You too. And one day You will bring me the rest of the way home. Thank You for preventing me from rushing that meeting during my wilderness times too. I look forward to seeing what You have planned for the rest of my time here while I wait for Your final call home.
Give me comfort when Thomas (my cat) doesn’t come to my final call. Please let him be near me when he leaves this world so I won’t be left wondering where he is. He is getting old and I worry about him.