Remembering God’s Forgetfulness
Jeremiah 31:34 (Pastor Brian)
“No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins NO MORE!”
Remember last week Isaiah 43:53? God was giving his people encouragement that he would blot out their sins and CHOOSE not to remember them. God is a God of mercy, grace, and compassion. If only they turn from their sins, they would receive an outpouring of grace and forgiveness.
Here, in Jeremiah, God declares what he will do for his people when they call out to him.
Here is another blanket proposal from the Lord to blot out their sins and not even keep them in his remembrance.
Charles Spurgeon + Harbor = two preachers who were meditating on God’s truth from these Scriptures.
- Spurgeon = “The Non-Remembrance of God” – says God blots out the ledger of our debts so that he will no longer remember them.
- Harbor = Jesus “faced our sins” to take them and bear away the iniquity and shame in his own body on the cross and blot out the ledger of indebtedness (sin) that we owe.
God faced up to the reality of our sins, he wants us to face up to them as well and look to the source of our forgiveness – his Son Christ on the cross.
God not only forgives sins, but forgets. The forgiveness is KEY. “How truly do we believe this?” – the unrepentant man isn’t bothered by it – until the Holy Spirit gets a hold of him and converts him – and he realizes that there is an eternity to be enjoyed with God in heaven (either that, or torment for eternity away from God).
These are the truths that Jesus came to reveal. Jesus spoke of Hell more than any of the other apostles and teachers. He came to save souls from Hell and bring them to heaven.
Here are some thoughts from the two preachers that have been blessed with a deeper understanding of these things to pass on to us.
- Jeremiah – “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Just last week in Communion in Jungbu’s joint service, I mentioned how sometimes we try to find relief in different ways (like the Law) and they always fall short (it doesn’t forgive sins, just brings knowledge and condemnation of sin). To look to the Law doesn’t bring any hope.
- Our conscience agrees with the Law that we all deserve God’s justice and death. By our own experience, we all know we’ve sinned, and God would not be the God of justice if he didn’t mete out justice for our sins – we all know this.
- We have experience in our lives and can see it in the lives of others. We witness sin and scandal, murder, adultery, unforgiveness, grudge-bearing, and all of these have their own “fruit” that we reap. Sin has consequences.
- Satan also condemns us and accuses us. He “craftily cooperates with the Law, conscience, and observation” and where these 3 would drive a person to despair, Satan takes this further and says, “OH yeah! You’re totally worthless – no hope for you.” and can lead us to utter despair.
However, Jesus is our advocate, our “lawyer” who stands up for us against the accusation of Satan.
All of these things lead us to dependence on someone else – Jesus – who was able to fulfill ALL the demands of the Law. “Which of you convicts me of sin?” – No one could – even the centurion at the cross said, “Surely this man was the Son of God” – he knew how Jesus forgave sins and went “as a sheep before the shearers” to his crucifixion – mildly and humbly.
The apostle Paul depicts Jesus as a very righteous husband, always right and perfect – and we, the church, are imperfect and married to him. The only thing we can do – the bride – is DIE. We recognize Christ’s death, die in identification with the Lord, are buried with him, and rise again to a newness of life (symbolized in baptism).
The Law is not going to die. So the only option is for the people UNDER the Law to die and rise again under a NEW covenant – under Christ, in Christ, we have forgiveness and hope.
Yesterday, we saw the marriage of Joshua and Jade and the Scriptures we read were from 1 Corinthians 13: 4-5 “Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps NO RECORD OF WRONGS (like God says he won’t)…”
Here, Paul says, “Love keeps no record of wrongs” – it rubs out the record so that in God’s sight, it is no longer there. This is a HARD truth to realize and appropriate. Men disbelieve it for themselves and doubt it where others are concerned. We keep records of wrongs, we aren’t speedily ready to forgive. Sometimes we require time to release offenses. But (Psalms?) we are encouraged to “not let the sun go down on your anger.” ACT like true children of God – FORGIVE as you’ve BEEN forgiven.
- Hebrews 8:10? “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”
- (Also Hebrews 10:17)
- Colossians “God has taken those things away and nailed them to the cross.”
- Micah “The Lord delights in mercy and will not keep our sins forever but will bury them in the sea (of forgetfulness).”
We need to meditate on these truths: YES – I am forgiven.
Remember that God has LET THEM GO – and wants us to have that same attitude in our own lives.
- Hebrews 10:1 “The Law has a shadow of things to come, but not the very substance/reality…”
- Leviticus 14 – the “Law of the Leper” is another picture of the atonement of Jesus in taking away our sins.
The cleansing of the Leper:
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘These are the regulations for the unclean person at the time of his cleansing when he is brought to the priest: The priest is to go outside and examine him, if he’s been healed, the priest will order 2 live clean birds and scarlet wood and hissop to be brought to the water. One bird shall be killed over the water, and dipped with the other things into the blood of the bird over water. 7 times he should sprinkle the diseased one and declare him clean. Then, release the live bird into the open field.”
This is a type/shadowing of Jesus. Two birds, one killed over running water (Jesus’ crucifixion), the Live bird is dipped into the blood of the dead bird and released into the open heaven (Jesus’ resurrection).
Again, speaking of the atonement of Jesus, it also speaks of OUR lives and deaths (spiritual) and rebirths – we’ve died to sin and been reborn into newness of life in Christ.
“…The man must stay outside for 7 days, then shave EVERYTHING, wash his clothes and himself and he’ll be clean.”
This man was “unclean” and outside the camp previously (this is a picture of sin) – it was a terrible existence. And yet, sometimes, God healed a leper – he had to go and prove that it was gone. When the examination took place and it was found to be gone, he had to go through this ceremonial cleansing. This is all a type/shadowing of Christ.
“…The priest takes one of the male lambs and offers it as a guilt offering – slaughter it in the Holy Place – like the sin offering, the guilt offering belongs to the priest. Take some blood and put it on the right ear and the thumb of the right hand and the big toe of the right foot. (This symbolizes cleansing).”
- Ear = what we listen to
- Thumb = what we work on
- Toe = where we walk
“…The priest will take some oil, dip it on his hand and sprinkle it on the man 7 times, put the oil on the ear, the thumb, the toe, ON TOP of the blood offering.”
The blood is CLEANSING – before we receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The oil then, is symbolic of the anointing of the Holy Spirit we receive after we are cleansed.
All of this speaks elegantly and symbolically about what Jesus ACTUALLY, LITERALLY accomplished on the cross and through his resurrection.
All these types were given to show God’s mercy. The Law itself was given to show mercy to those who’d broken the Law in different ways. This is the first point.
#2: God shows his mercy by giving Life.
Genesis “On the day you eat of the fruit, you shall surely die.” Satan tempted them, they ate, their eyes were opened, and the damage was done. But God in his mercy didn’t immediately kill them. He COULD have, for he is just and requires justice. But in mercy, he set them out on the earth (not without consequences – thorn and thistles for the man’s work, terrible pain for women in child birth). He also set out a prophecy that the seed of the woman (Jesus) would crush the head of the serpent (Satan). This was a reference to the coming of the Messiah.
Right from the beginning, God showed his mercy, gave them life, gave them promise.
What he did with Adam and Eve, he does with us. Are you alive? Then you have HOPE. “A living dog is better than a dead lion.” (Proverb) But life needs to be practiced by receiving Christ for eternal life.
Right at the beginning, God promised that one would come and grant eternal life – and throughout the Old Testament, he gave further proofs that he was willing to show mercy. Not only did they have the Mosaic Law (condemning), but also the Ceremonial Law (allowing cleansing). This allowed the people to have fellowship with him – he showed his mercy and grace through this.
And Paul writes, “In the fullness of time, God sent his Son to redeem them…”
God did indeed send his Savior in the right time and the right place in order to fulfill his will.
All of these clues, hints, shadows, pointed to the substance that is Christ.
Remember the healing of the 10 lepers, and that of the 1 leper who said to Jesus, “Lord, if your are willing, you can cleanse me.”
Thinking about this, there weren’t many healing recorded for leprosy in the Old Testament (Miriam got it for about a week for rebellion at one point). Interestingly, this “Law for cleansing the leper” may not have been used much in the Old Testament – it isn’t recorded, and Jesus told this guy to go and get cleansed (he didn’t, he ran out and told everyone).
Of the 10, Jesus sent them to do this ceremonial cleansing and only 1 came back.
If these lepers had gone to the priests, they probably wouldn’t actually know what to do – because it was so uncommon. This is why Jesus wanted the leper to go back and show himself to the priest – it might have opened their eyes to the truth about Jesus as well.
Jesus made a point of telling that the Samaritan leper came back and said “Thanks” – yet he was the recipient of God’s mercy and showed his gratitude.
We see here that this was an act of God’s mercy. This is a tremendous picture of sin – it rots the body from the inside and limbs may even fall off. But God was willing to heal of his physical disease (and spiritually healed him/forgave him as well).
Now, as we close, let’s meditate upon Christ, who took our sins upon himself and faced up to our sins. He’s forgiven them and forgotten them – to be remembered “NO MORE!”
This is what we need to remember when we are tempted to accuse ourselves or listen to the accusations of others.