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Pentecost 21 – Tuesday Devotion

Readings:  Deuteronomy 29:1-29 and Matthew 18:21-35

Deuteronomy 29:16:  “You know how we lived in the land of Egypt, and how we came through the midst of the nations through which you passed.  And you have seen their detestable things, their idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold, which were among them.  Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the LORD our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. 

Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’  This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike.  The LORD will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the LORD and His jealousy will smoke against that man, and the curses written in this book will settle upon him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven.”

Matthew 18: 21:  Then Peter came up and said to [Jesus], “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  As many as seven times?”   Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”

 

“The Record of Forgiveness”

Put yourself in the shoes (or should I say ‘sandals’?) of the Children of Israel.  They heard Moses’ voice in the repeating of the Torah just before entering the Promised Land.  They hear the instructions and warnings which God gave His chosen people as they prepare to take possession of the land He was giving them.

Moses warns the people not to think that they will be safe in their own efforts.  He knows about their stubbornness. They would imitate the stubborn heart of Pharaoh who was stubborn not letting God’s people leave Egypt.  Satan doesn’t want us to get off easy, either.  He doesn’t want us to escape his land of bondage.

The other warning is what God promises to do in His just and holy way of dealing with people of stubborn heart.  Rather than forgiveness God’ jealousy will burn—that is smoke—against that person.  He will blot out their names from under heaven.

Peter thought he would do just a little better with this forgiveness idea.  The Jews practiced the act of forgiveness toward a brother who sinned against him three times.  After that, the limit for forgiveness was reached and there was no more effort to extend forgiveness.  Peter thought he could double it, then add one more for good measure, and come up with the holy number seven.  

Jesus teaches to forgive even more.  “Seventy times seven” as some translations render it, or “Seventy seven times”—either way, the intent is not to keep a record of the wrongs others commit against us.  Imagine if God did that for us?  As the Psalmist said, “If You, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?  But with You there is forgiveness, that You may be feared” (Psalm 130:3-4).

Thank God that He forgives us more than 490 or even 77 times!  We who are forgiven much can also by that same compassion forgive those who sin against us as our Lord would have us pray in the Lord’s Prayer.  Therein is the power for us to forgive our brother who sins against us, and, more importantly, do what God does with sin.  He covers it in Jesus’ shed blood.

Jeremiah declares this covenant promise of God regarding His way of forgiving us:  “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).  Can we also forgive and forget the sins others do against us?  We hear “I’ll forgive you but I won’t forget.”  But that’s not forgiveness at all—it’s only an act.  

Jesus didn’t just act when He died on the cross.  He brought us full and free forgiveness.  He remains true to His Word.  God does not and will not remember our sins.  But Satan, the accuser, stands ready to remind us all the time of our sins.  To him we say, “Be gone, Satan!  You’re judged, that deed is done, and that will stand forever!”

Your forgiveness by Jesus is sure and certain.  He keeps no record—the only record is that your name is written in the book of life!

 

Prayer:  O Lord, in You there is forgiveness that You may be feared.  Thank You for sending Jesus to die and rise again to forgive my sins.  Help me to forgive others who do wrong to me.  Help me to remember their misdeeds no more, and help me and my forgiven brother and sister to live in faith toward you and in love toward one another.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Our Father

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times in every way.  The Lord be with you all.  2 Thessalonians 3:16