35) Forgiveness Of Sin

No agency has done more to wipe out the significance of “sin” than Christianity with fundamentalists relegating sin to a list of behavioral does and don’ts and liberals updating what constitutes allowable social interactions from Puritanical or Victorian restrictions.

In fact, sin defines any self- and other-destructive behaviors.

The documentation of the first known occasion of sin committed by Lucifer provides a thesaurus of other words for sin.

“Thus saith the LORD God; Thou…wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till

  • iniquity 
  • violence
  • sin
  • profane
  • lifted up [with pride]
  • corrupted
  • defiled(Ezekiel 28:12-18)

The most basic definition of sin is making oneself the authority over the Singularity / Creator. 

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!  For thou hast said in thine heart…I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:12-14)

We defy God’s authority when we imagine that we can escape from the restrictions outlined in God’s laws. We selectively obey the parts we like and revise the rest. This is how the serpent tempted the woman in the Garden of Eden to break away from God’s authority.

“…I am the LORD / YHVH / CreatorTherefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 22:30-31)

“sin is the transgression of the law.” (I John 3:4)

Don’t make the mistake of narrowly pegging every biblical reference to “law” as being about the law of Moses. Long before God made a particular covenant with the descendants of Jacob / nation of Israel there were basic laws of holiness – perfection in relationship.

These were taught to all mankind for the purpose of establishing and maintaining harmonious relationships with each other and with God. These are built into human conscience with at least the common sense awareness that trouble will follow misbehavior.

“after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God. For when the Gentiles…do by nature the things contained in the law…shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.” (Romans 2:14-15)

Joseph son of Jacob makes the sobering point that transgressing his master’s boundaries was actually a transgression against God’s commandments, which broadens the definition of sin and brings it down to earth.

“And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master…hath committed all that he hath to my hand…neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? (Genesis 39:7-9)

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” (Romans 13:1-2) 

This last, of course, does not teach subjection to ungodly edicts, as demonstrated in multiple incidents throughout human history, such as Daniel in the lion’s den for refusing to stop praying, or Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego cast into the fire for refusing to worship the idol. It teaches non-violent resistance to earthly forces when those powers are in direct opposition to God’s word. 

We ought to obey God, rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)

1135eaf2-e824-47f1-a7cc-0f7f2da1e79b.jpgThe essential problem with transgressing God’s laws is that these are not, as some people claim, arbitrary rules established by certain cultures which change over time as circumstances change.  The definition of natural law is “a phenomenon of nature that has been proven to invariably occur whenever certain conditions exist or are met.”

tenor

Natural laws are God’s invariable, eternal laws, established when he designed the universe. We understand this process in physics, but this also applies to social and spiritual domains. Human actions cannot break these laws without throwing the affected part of the universe into chaos and inevitable destruction. 

When anyone sins, i.e. does something un-right, there is a disruption in the “right-ness” of that person’s relationship / connection to God and others, which spreads and contaminates every dimension, not just moral. Anyone who has experienced a relationship breakdown should be able to personalize this concept to their own life.  There is much more than a cessation of relationship with the ex-spouse – there is loss of time and experiences with children during split custody, loss of financial security, loss of shared friends, loss of a home, and it goes on and on. Then there are the effects felt by the children, and family members, and friends, and school associates, and work colleagues, and…

Unless counteracted, unchecked sin results in ever-spreading chaos and ultimate utter destruction. We’ve seen it in world wars and nuclear weapons. Current scientists are saying exactly the same thing. We humans are destroying our ecology, our social interdependency, our ability to survive as a civilization and even our own selves through our refusal to sacrifice our self-indulgence to promote the welfare and sheer existence of our interdependent social and physically sustaining world! 

Pride, perhaps the greatest sin, is potentially capable of literally generating a black hole.

black-hole-event-horizon-01

God responded to Lucifer’s sin by decreeing destruction by fire. This was not out of petty revenge, but to cauterize the damage. No doubt Lucifer is powerful and spiteful enough to generate a world-destroying black hole. And no doubt Lucifer expected the same fate to befall humans.

But because humans are mortal, changeable, we have the option of being restored to our original condition – being in a right relationship with God.

This is accomplished through a process called forgiveness.

“If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O LORD, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.” (Psalm 130:3-5)

Forgiveness does not mean ignoring the offense or treating it as though it didn’t happen.

Forgiveness is when the offended party suffers the consequences of the offense.

We see this in action in many aspects of life, such as in:

  1. Banking laws – transferring a debt that is owed by the debtor to the to someone else who pays what is owed, or assumes the debt, also known as “imputing” the debt. For example, it is estimated that in that one banking crisis tax payers covered $8.5 trillion in bailouts to banks and insurers.
  2. Judicial laws – transferring the punishment imposed on an offender to an innocent person who pays the fine or serves the time.
  3. Personal relationships

We struggle with forgiving those who have hurt us because we feel, justifiably I would say, outraged that the offender gets to shrug off responsibility instead of admitting and repairing the harm that was done to us. Intuitively we understand that when we forgive, we cancel the debt owed to us, and we are left bearing the burden of that offense through emotional suffering, physical suffering, financial costs, damaged reputation, loss of social standing, loss of hopes and dreams for the future.

I once counseled a woman whose boyfriend had insinuated himself into her life over a period of months, charming her into more and more involvement until his true psychopath personality could finally erupt.  When I saw her she was article-2276767-1783d302000005dc-826_634x443recovering from broken bones from his most recent and most vicious beating. in retaliation for being told to leave he had utterly destroyed her house by ripping out all the plumbing and electrical and smashing all the windows, drywall, floors, doors and appliances. (The photo represents the damage done, but is not an actual photo of the woman or her home, nor does it fully show the extent of the damage.)

He had wrecked her car. He had terrorized the other employees at her workplace, triggering the loss of her job. She was left to suffer the consequences all alone. She had no homeowner’s insurance for the property damage because it was deliberately caused by an occupant who had lived there long enough to be legally classified as a resident. She had no insurance coverage for her medical bills because she had lost her job. She had no income or outlook for another decent job. Inconceivably, she had no recourse even to have him arrested. She had allowed him to get away with increasingly violent behavior for too long, lied to the authorities too many times. She had long since allowed herself to be alienated from former friends by her psychopath control freak boyfriend, she was now homeless, unemployable with a mortgage to pay on a condemned property, forced into bankruptcy with consequent loss of credit rating, terrified of encountering him again.

And Jesus said,

“if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

That just doesn’t seem right! 

But in fact, whether or not she felt like it, her best course of action was to forgive her abuser. Her mental, emotional, physical, social – and because we are all interconnected body, soul and spirit – her spiritual health depended on it.  How so?

As long as she chose not to forgive him, she was holding on to the debt he owed her. Can we not recognize that meant she was holding on to a relationship with him?

“You owe me! You need to change your behavior, your attitude, your beliefs to make things right with me!”

Isn’t this how marriage counseling usual goes? And goes and goes around in a circle without ever coming to a resolution as to who will change?

Think about your own experiences with unforgiveness. I know from my own personal experience that brooding over injustice, regret, insistence on “It shouldn’t have been like that!” trapped me in a pit of despair, deep depression, physical deterioration, social restrictions, terribly poor judgment, and a cycle of failed attempts to restore the unforgiven relationship through a series of duplicate and therefore likewise bad and failed relationships. When my divorce lawyer asked “Why did you ever marry _________?” I unwittingly blurted out “Because I wanted ____ to love me, or at least a close facsimile.”

Christianity’s most evident loss of power to overcome cycles of sin in individuals and society can be directly linked to its failure to understand forgiveness. Christianity  teaches that salvation is from punishment for sin in hell by believing that we are forgiven because Jesus is the Son of God who died to take our spiritual punishment. That is such a massively oversimplified dogma of the entirety of God’s work in mankind.

If we stick with scripture rather than preachers, we factor in the understanding that Singularity Creator YHVH created mankind to be in relationship with him to have dominion over all of creation. The Adam’s rejection of that relationship pulled all of creation with them on the path to destruction. Only by returning to solidarity with YHVH could all of creation be salvaged.

Only Singularity YHVH has the power to restore a relationship by the act of forgiveness, the first act being the acceptance of the destruction of his creation.

When Jesus warns that if we don’t believe that he is the Singularity, the only source of power capable of overriding the consequences of our destructive actions, he is not primarily warning of punishment by an angry God.

He is warning of humanity’s only option for survival.

Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin [and its consequence of death] of the world.” (John 1:29)

God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, The Chosen One / Messiah / Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Romans 5:8-9)

Next, God forgave the Adams – and all who share their identity through inherited DNA – by:

  • canceling the cost / consequence / effect of death
  • due from becoming indebted / breaking the law / cause of eating the fruit
  • by shifting the cost / consequence / effect to another life given and owned by God.

God killed his animals for the Adams to substitute for their death “in the day” they ate the forbidden fruit. He then covered the naked, unprotected human flesh with the animal skins. The man and the woman would have been covered in blood from the freshly skinned hides.

“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21)

10570000_311232579054489_217506234_nRemember, Adam and his wife had named all the animals, i.e. identified each of them according to their unique characteristics, so knew them personally.

Imagine having your pet dog, whom you’ve hand-fed and cuddled and who you emotionally bond with like a child, slaughtered because of what you’ve done.  You wear her skin plastered against yours, like a skin graft. I would be horrified, sobbing, shocked into realization of the significance of my sin, screaming my repentance, deeply conscious that I am alive only because another died in my place and that my life is now merged with the one who died.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” (Leviticus 17:11)

In ancient Israel, the Day of Atonement laid the foundation for God to forgive the people of any sins committed since the previous year’s feast. Thus, the Day of Atonement was a yearly reminder that all of Israel’s daily, weekly, and monthly ritual sacrifices and offerings were not sufficient to permanently atone for sin…

The transfer of death from humans to animals, however, was just a temporary measure allowing the continued existence of the human race in the same mortal state.

“Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them…thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot [in other words, fairly, equitably]…(Exodus 21)

Only God’s forgiveness by taking on himself the cost of the sin through death could restore the kingdom as planned before creation, a world filled with perfect humans made in God’s image and matured into his likeness.

“But YHVH’s Chosen One / Christ…not…by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats…sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to Godthat by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9)

The completed forgiveness by God of humanity’s rejection of a relationship with him could only be accomplished by substituting the death of the original son of God / ha-Adam with the death of another sinless son of God / human.

“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection [completion of the sentence] of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in The Chosen One / Messiah / Christ shall all be made alive…And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” (I Corinthians 15:21-22, 45)

Yeshua’s death on behalf of humanity allows our death sentence to be remitted, i.e. paid. His resurrection proves that God was satisfied with the death sentence on all humanity, and it no longer applies to those who identify with Yahweh’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus as their sacrifice for sin.

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand…For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that The Chosen One / Messiah / Christ died for our sins according to the scripturesAnd that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. (I Corinthians 15:1-4)

A Christianity that claims its origins in the Christ of the New Testament without acknowledging his existence in the Old Testament scriptures is a powerless transmitter of God’s Word. The YHVH’s Promised Savior dates back to YHVH’s commitment to the Adams in Genesis 3:15 to restore their original estate with him and applies to all humanity throughout all time.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Yahweh’s Appointed Savior / Messiah Yeshua / Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God…that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in YHVH’s Savior / Yeshua / Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-26)

The biblical belief in YHVH’s Savior is not simply for the purpose of avoiding eternal hellfire. It is to be restored to an empowering right-eous relationship with the Singularity Creator.

“…we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (II Corinthians 5:20-21)

It is possible to believe in Jesus, and not enter into a saving relationship on his terms.

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.Then took they up stones to cast at him” (John 8)

pillows_009__70311.1462319589.1000.1200.jpgNot everyone is willing to admit they are sinners and take responsibility for their own destructive behaviors. They’d rather keep blaming someone else. 

“…thou shalt call his  name Yeshua / YHVH’s Savior: for he shall save his people from THEIR sins.” (Mathew 1:21)

If I had not come and spoken unto them…If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.” (John 15:22-24)

In this light, Jesus’ admonition that we won’t be forgiven if we don’t forgive is recognized not to be a threat, but a simple law of nature. As long as we, unwittingly or not, make ourselves the judge of right and wrong and enforcer of justice, we’re not allowing God to do his restorative work in our lives.

quote-rather-than-studying-the-laws-of-cause-and-effect-people-spend-their-lives-being-the-effect-and-eugene-j-martin-250699

I finally pulled out of the pit I had dug myself into when I grasped hold of reality AKA right-ness AKA right-eousness. I wasn’t loved by these humans who were so un-right that they couldn’t engage in this higher order of functioning. Deal with it in a healthy way. Chose life.

I could then connect to the One who is love and empower my capacities – body, soul and spirit – to focus on my own personal problems – sure, let’s call them sins – and transform through healing and growth from misery to joyful appreciation of all that is good in life, a light in a dark world leading other desperate humans to life.

So by itself, God’s forgiveness does not restore a spiritual relationship providing eternal life any more than a human forgiving an abusive spouse restores a marital relationship.

A grudging, “I’m sorry if I did something that upset you” – implying that you’re just overly sensitive and need to grow up – doesn’t work.  As anyone who has ever experienced a damaged relationship knows, restoration requires forgiveness by the victim plus repentance by the victimizer. We understand this in human relationships, which, being in the likeness of God, are equivalent to our relationship with God.

It takes two to make a relationship. Restoration of a broken relationship requires action by the injuring party.

Acknowledging that your actions harmed someone, and giving something of value to the person who suffered loss by your actions, is called atonement.  To some extent it repairs (the action, verb) the damage that was done, with reparations (the things, noun).

  • In politics, monetary reparations are often imposed on the countries that started, but lost, a war, to repay the winning countries their cost of fighting the war (taking the place of the older system of plunder and slaves).
  • In a court of law, a monetary fine is often imposed on the offender, which puts a value on the damage caused by the wrongdoer’s actions.  This allows the judge to maintain his integrity (honesty, righteousness, faithfulness to the law) while allowing mercy to the person who broke the law (which by definition harms another individual.) It “put things right”, in some mystical way restores balance to the universe.
  • In the physical realm, tax payments are one means by which damage to the environment is repaired.

If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,)…Yet if they shall bethink themselves…and repent / return to a former condition, a previous good relationship and make supplication unto thee…saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness; And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul… Then… forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion” (I Kings 8:46-50)

To re-pent, re-think or return, means that the victimizer takes responsibility for the relationship problem, usually in increments because this is a huge change of direction for the victimizer. The complete process is the essence of the recovery program in Alcohol Anonymous’ Twelve Steps.

  1. Acknowledge the damage done by his / her actions. Honestly, most relationships just limp along at this level, with continued trauma and apologies, harbored resentment and anger, and increasing distance between the parties.
  2. Offer to repair the damage done to the extent possible, also called repairs / reparations. 
  3. Take action to prevent a recurrence. This gets to the source of the problem. Stop drinking. Get counseling. Stop interacting seductively with co-workers or online resources. Take medication for neurotransmitter imbalances cause by neuron damage from emotional traumas expressed as PTSD, depression, Bipolar disorder, etc. Be humble enough to admit you need help.

“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness…

  1. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me….
  2. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash / vigorously scrub me, and I shall be whiter than snow...
    • Submit to painful processes to repair the damage done to the body and soul from consuming and engaging in corrupting habits. Alcohol and heroin are not the only things that trigger withdrawals, witness dieting. Any pleasure-inducing habit is hard to break.
  3. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
    • This gets to the source of the problem. Cast me not away from thy presence; acknowledges the prerogatives of an existing relationship, in God’s case, as our Creator.
  4. and take not thy holy spirit from me…uphold me with thy free spirit.
    • This is the ultimate “higher power” that succeeds in overcoming all other drives
  5. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
    • The humility required to admit we can’t do it alone, we need help.” (Psalm 51:1-17)

11King David committed multiple sins against 1) God who had entrusted the kingdom to him, 2) his subjects, 3) his faithful general Uriah, 4) Bathsheba, and 5) their illegitimate child. To achieve justice by any reasonable national law he should have been punished with death for any one of them. However, God forgave him, and suffered the loss of his own authority and credibility in the process.

“And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit…by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme…Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me…Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour…I will do this thing before all Israel… (II Samuel 12)

And the conspiracy was strong…with Absalom. And…David said unto all his servants that were with him at Jerusalem, Arise, and let us flee; for we shall not else escape from Absalom:” (II Samuel 15:12-14) “So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.” (II Samuel 15:12, 16:22)

Next, because David repented and pleaded for it, God allowed him to make atonement in order to restore their relationship and God’s reputation. Because this case was so extreme, God required the greatest sacrifice any parent can make – the death of his children. David called for a judgment of paying four times restitution in the parable of a man who stole another man’s lamb, and God held him to it. David lost four sons.

“And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man…thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife… 

  1. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth…And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died…Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped…I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” (II Samuel 12:7-23)
  2. “Amnon…is dead: for by the appointment of Absalom this hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar.” (II Samuel 13:32)
  3. “.And Absalom met the servants of David…Then…Joab [David’s top general] took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive…And ten young men that bare Joab’s armour compassed about and smote Absalom, and slew him…And the king was much moved…and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (II Samuel 18)
  4. Then king Solomon sware by the Lord, saying…as the LORD liveth, which hath established me, and set me on the throne of David my father, and who hath made me an house, as he promised, [my rebel brother] Adonijah shall be put to death this day. And king Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; and he fell upon him that he died.” (I Kings 2:23-25)

David didn’t actively kill his children, but he did sacrifice his children when he gave them up to God to do as God willed. You can best be sure that David realized that each time one of his sons died he knew it was in his place. Listen to his heart-wrenching scream “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” This isn’t just an abstract wish. This is for real. David would much rather have pleaded guilty in a court of law and have been executed for his crimes to end his emotional pain. But he was needed to govern this new nation or Israel would have collapsed even earlier than it did into chaos and potentially utter obliteration.

Notice that David also made atonement to Bathsheba, both in giving her another child, and as we saw earlier, giving her son the kingdom instead of his older and politically-connected brothers. Most sinners shift the blame, claiming exculpatory circumstances with claims like “It’s her fault, she made me do it, she shouldn’t have tempted me…” David accepted responsibility and, highly unusual for a man in a powerful position, made reparations to the woman he had wronged.

But this was only possible because Bathsheba accepted his atonement, a life for a life. God can unilaterally forgive sinners but even He can only offer restoration of relationship, which must be accepted.

And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved him.” (II Samuel 12:7-24)

Like Jesus, Bathsheba was an innocent victim who suffered extreme abuse at the hands of a respected religious figure who betrayed her submission to his authority and used his power to deny justice.  And then to be forced to live with the lying, deceiving, man who destroyed your life?  It would be insufferable.  

To really feel how this impacted Bathsheba, consider the accounts of the survivors of the genocide in Rwanda, poignantly communicated in the book As We Forgive.

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And then, one night, David comes to Bathsheba, saying in whatever way he communicated it, “I’m sorry.  Please forgive me.”  She could look into his eyes and see his agony, his soul poured out onto death, his sincere remorse and desperate need for her forgiveness.

I don’t think it was enough for David to hear from the prophet Nathan that God had forgiven him.  I think we humans require experiencing forgiveness from one human to another, with our senses – to see the change in expression on the face of the forgiver, to hear the words “I forgive you”, to feel the hug, to smell the skin your face is pressed against, to taste the tears of reconciliation.  

Bathsheba had a choice to make – justice, or mercy.

Justice would salvage at least her reputation and financial stability by demanding public acknowledgement that she was innocent – that he had raped, or at the very least, abused his position of power over her – and forcing restitution. 

While mercy, through forgiveness, would cost her dearly.

For the rest of her Bathsheba would bear the humiliation of an irreparably destroyed reputation as she was falsely convicted in the court of public opinion of seducing the nation’s hugely popular rock star politician. She would feel a sense of betrayal to her first husband Uriah, who had loved her with a total devotion as his only wife. She would experience loneliness, shunning, and outright hatred from the other, highly competitive wives in the king’s harem pushing their own and their son’s interests. She would find it impossible to assuage her heartbreak of losing her first born son due to continued involvement with the man who caused her trauma.

This was not an easy choice for her to make.

But if Bathsheba had chosen to withhold forgiveness and instead get “an eye for an eye” justice – suffering for suffering – could David have reclaimed his life and lived out his destiny?  Or would it have been the end of him, and the new nation?

Is it possible that people have a hard time believing that God can forgive them because we have so little experience of human forgiveness? After all, we are designed to have God’s likeness, and our impression of what God is like is informed by our knowledge of humans.

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