Pardon Me

Jeff Forgiveness, Sundays

How many times has our opposition charged against us at full strength, seemingly to shred us to the smallest of bits, and then dance upon the shards?  More than once it has been human opposition – we remember their names and faces, and their words and tones.  Beyond the human foes, there is Satan, along with his army, who every hour of every day that seek our destruction.  Their unholy hatred against the glory of God instinctively drives them to eradicate all that serves to bring Him glory – so is it any wonder that this enemy would spend the remains of his ticking time assaulting God’s own children?  Then there is the ongoing reality of our own fallen flesh, fueled by a depraved world system that we must add to the equation.  Yes, we have somewhat of a war within us which will be with us in some measure until we discard our robe of flesh for a robe of incorruption in Heaven.  Fittingly, the prophet, Nahum, says below that the enemy is at full strength and many in number:

“Thus says the LORD, “Though they are at full strength and many, they will be cut down and pass away. Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no more. And now I will break his yoke from off you and will burst your bonds apart.” – Nahum 1:12-13

He also says above that God uses the enemy to accomplish some of His own purpose for our lives.  On behalf of the Lord, the prophet speaks of God afflicting us.  The word sounds very strong to us, and causes some unease to think about how our protector can also be the source of our affliction.  There’s no need to overcomplicate things because every single parent understands this concept without verbalizing it.  If any danger comes against our children from the outside then our children will see us clearly as their protectors.  When that same child rebels against us, defies our authority, resists our plan and endangers the family name, then he or she will know us as the afflicters.  Good parents will serve both of these roles until maturity is developed in the child and he or she reaches full stature.  God is committed to do the same with you and me- He protects us and He afflicts us. He is supremely wise to know when you need which from Him.

The joy of Nahum’s words above is that God had declared that the affliction was no longer needed for God’s people at that hour, and that He was soon to burst the chains which had held back His children from their destiny in Him.  He had used the enemy to develop His desire in them, and now the enemy had outlived their usefulness to Him, so He would destroy the enemy of His people.  His commitment to His children never falters, even when His hand is heavy against them.  We mistakenly assume that God’s highest commitment is to our personal comfort, but we soon find this is fallacy.  His highest commitment concerning us is not our comfort but our conformity to the image of His Son – and their is much in us that does not easily comply with this plan.  God is willing to place our happiness on hold in order to bless us with holiness and, therefore, He will use even our troubling enemy to humble us.  When that humbling occurs in our lives, watch God move decisively to rid your life of that which resists you and ruins you.  Watch Him break every shackle.  See the Almighty snap heavy and rusty chains, resting unseen in the sand which you have long felt but forgotten where they were buried.  Behold your God as He fully restores His captive children, takes off their slaves’ garments that he never wanted them to wear, places fresh oil on them and seats them at the King’s table for feasting.  How long might we expect affliction to last? Until the high and lofty One who inhabits the Heavens accomplishes His humbling work in us.  We may continue to resist but it will bring us nothing.  Brokenness and contrition are the order of the day when your enemies have exhausted you.  He will hear your plaintive cry and will bring pardon and prescription for your healing and help.  Your enemy will become smoldering ruins.

I hear those chains falling in this season for some of you.  God will break every chain.  He has called you forth to Himself and commanded your enemy to stay put.  This is a freedom rarely spoken of by most of us.  This is not merely freedom from the presence of our enemy’s attacks.  This is freedom from our own mistakes.  This is my favorite freedom:  it is called Pardon… and pardon delivers me from me.