When we’re on the verge of success and failure ensues, we often wonder what we did to deserve it. We feel angry, hurt, and frustrated. Sometimes, we even feel slighted by God. But when our own sin and disobedience are to blame, how can we complain?
In the previous post of this series, we looked at being “On the Verge of Growth,” and where the Israelites were in their journey to the Promised Land. Once again, let’s look at God’s initial command & promise to the Israelites:
See, I have set the land before you. Go in and take possession of the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their offspring after them.’ | Deuteronomy 1:8
In Numbers 13-14, we read about how the Israelites were punished for their grumbling and lack of faith. But their response to God’s punishment was more rebellion and disobedience. God told them to turn away from the Promised Land and go back towards the Red Sea to begin their forty years of wandering in the wilderness – this was their first punishment for their first offense. The Israelites ignored God’s new command and instead, attempted to make up for their initial lack of faith by obeying the initial command God had given them. They received punishment for this too:
Then the Amorites who lived in that hill country came out against you and chased you as bees do and beat you down in Seir as far as Hormah. And you returned and wept before the Lord, but the Lord did not listen to your voice or give ear to you. | Deuteronomy 1:44-45
Defeated. Destroyed. Unheard.
I have often thought about what my sin earned me and how my sin left me. But it was with this softly spoken phrase from my husband that I found a renewed sense of wonder in my God:
“This is what I deserved.”
As we studied this passage together one morning, something became clear to me: this is what God’s righteous judgement looks like. And as merciless as we might think it is, this is what is just and fair. And this is what we deserved.
THIS is what our sin earned us.
THIS is how our sin left us.
But God sent His Son to die on the cross for us so that we would no longer have to carry our sin.
We deserved defeat and destruction. We deserved to have our cries fall on deaf ears. But Christ, who was undeserving of such wrath, bore it for us, making us deserving of something far greater. He made us deserving of something immeasurably more beautiful than we could ever imagine:
l o v e.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. | John 3:16-17
For God so loved.
This action made in love is what made us perfect before Him. Nothing else could accomplish this – only Christ’s sacrifice.
The God we read about in Deuteronomy and Numbers is the same God we read about in John. The character of God has not changed. He still abhors sin and we cannot have a relationship with Him while we are yet in our sin.
But God made a way because He so loved us.
Our sin, no matter how great or small, is deserving of defeat and destruction. No matter how many or how few offenses we have to our name, our sin earns us the punishment of being unheard. We deserve to wander the terrible wilderness of this world alone forever. We deserve what the Israelites experienced. But God so loved us that He sent Christ to take what we deserved and to give us what we didn’t.
The only worthy response?