Last week we started our chat on the Third Commandment. You would remember that it states:
‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain’ (Exodus 20:3).
We concluded that when we say, ‘the name of God’, we actually mean His characteristics. We can only be one with God when we truly start to recognize who He is and to serve Him according to his ways being transformed from a people who beforehand served ourselves according to our ways. It is in our trusting ourselves to Him and making Him the one we serve conforming ourselves to His ways that we stop belonging to ourselves and we become His.
It is these characteristics that we must shine forth not making them nothing or “taking them in vain.” God wants us to take our time to know Him and to mimic Him.
In this blog, we discuss three more of God’s characteristics. They are:
He hates sin, and
His compassion, mercy, and forgiveness.
1. God has hope in us.
God gave us free will and the power of choice. He is patient with us, and He hopes that we will make the right decision to live for him. He gave us the ability to love and the ability to hate.
2 Peter 3:9: ‘The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.’
He is patiently waiting on us, never forcing us, but hoping that we will repent and turn from our ways to His ways.
Having hope is essential.
It is what can keep us going when things seem bleak. It is the light in the darkness. If we want to bring light to this dark world, we need to bring hope. Hope in the promise of the age-to-come. An expectation of a fulfilled life of love, justice, truth, and righteousness without sin and death, where Jesus Himself rules from Jerusalem.
We must persevere!
We can see our hope in Colossians 1:27: ‘…to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.’
1 Thessalonians 1:3: ‘…constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father….’
And again, Titus 3:7: ‘…so that being justified by His grace, we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.’
The message of God is all about hope. Hope for the covered-up inadequacies, sin, and death that are a part of this life. Remember, the best is yet to come!
2. God hates sin.
God’s attitude towards sin shines throughout His word.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10: ‘Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.’
There are no two ways about it: God hates sin and will not allow it into His presence.
For those who believe that the blood of Jesus covers the practice of sin (sin practiced habitually without repentance) we can see what His word says about that lie in Hebrews 10:26-27: ‘For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.’
The key is always repentance and the return to His covenant. We are covered, even if we stray from His path, but only when turn back to Him.
The Seven Deadly Sins
There are many variations of sin. 1 John 5:16-17 says:
‘If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.’
Proverbs 6:16-19 states the seven sins that God hates the most. It is probably because they not only do the most damage to ourselves and those around us, but are the hardest to turn from.
‘There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.’
In other words:
Violence against the innocent
A mind consumed with thoughts of evil
People anxious to do harm
There are also other verses with similar warnings attached:
Lust (Proverbs 6:25-29)
Gluttony (Isaiah 22:16)
Envy (James 3:16)
Anger (Ecclesiastes 7:9)
Sloth (Ecclesiastes 5:10)
Greed (Ecclesiastes 10:18)
Then we have the Revelation warnings.
Revelation 21:8 tells us about the second death: ‘But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.’
Many will not enter the New Jerusalem. Revelation 22:15: ‘Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.’
Sin that breaks the Salvation Covenant will be deadly if we don’t turn from it.
If we find ourselves more upset about the declarations of what sin is and its due penalty, than the crime itself, we have a problem. We must come to a place where we hate sin as much as God hates sin. Yes, we all fall and are lured into the deception of sin, but, children of God must be able to recognize it and then to turn back towards His ways by repenting. Sin leads to death and destruction. His covenant leads to life and eternity.
It is vital that we must understand the hope of God in eternal life but that we also understand the wrath of God that will be directed as those who persist in living outside of His Salvation Covenant.
I believe wholeheartedly that the Book of Jeremiah is a dual prophecy, much like Isaiah and Ezekiel. It has a past fulfillment and a warning for the future. In Jeremiah, we see the judgment of Israel and the nations by Babylon and then the judgment of Babylon by God.
In Revelation, we see the warnings of Jeremiah fulfilled. We see the judgment of the nations by the world (metaphoric Babylon.) Then we see the judgment of Babylon (the world) by God.
God is unchanging. He is going to deal with sin. He feels about sin today in the same way that He felt about sin in the Book of Jeremiah.
All of God’s judgments have future warnings attached. The judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah was a past event with a future warning.
The feasts that we find in the Bible all represent a past memorial and have a future fulfillment attached to them. Some have been fulfilled, and some have not. Eventually, they will all be fulfilled. This is one reason why we must be observing God’s feast Days so we can celebrate and remember what God has done for us and so we can see their future fulfillment coming.
The Book of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel all had past fulfillments and warnings of future fulfillments to come. All of them will find their final future fulfillment in the Book of Revelation and the age-to-come.
I find it slightly humorous that many Christians don’t see Jeremiah as significant. The people of Israel at the time he was prophesying didn’t take His words to heart, the Jews after the return from Babylon saw it as already having been fulfilled, and many Christians now don’t spend much time in it because they have some misguided view that it is part of an “Old Covenant.” Can we not see that Jeremiah was and is speaking to each of us in our current age?
The proof that not all of Jeremiah’s prophecies have been fulfilled is his prophecies about the northern kingdom their future judgment in the nations and their ultimate return, which clearly has not yet happened and coincides with many other prophecies about the restoration of the Northern Tribes like Deuteronomy 30.
It is imperative that we understand that the wrath of God is going to be poured out on all of mankind who have not repented of their sins. It is a warning that we don’t want to hear. Sin is deceptive. Sin wants us to defend it, to make it softer, and to justify its acceptance.
The message is clear throughout His word. God hates sin, and His people must hate sin too.
We can see this warning in Jude 1:3-4: “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Of course, God hates sin because it is destructive to His people. It is ridiculous to believe that God would reward the practice of sin and therefore cause us to descend further into something that is destructive to us. No, instead, He gives grace to those who would turn away from their sin to live according to His ways. We can see this picture of His grace for ourselves in Ezekiel 18:21-23: “‘But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live. Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,’ declares the Lord God, ‘rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?’”
We can proclaim the truth and wisdom of his ways over the enslavement of sin.
You can be freed from the captivity of sin. We can all adopt His characteristics. He knows how we should live. Let’s make this one point: The ways of the world lead to destruction, but God’s word will stand forever.
3. Compassion, mercy, and forgiveness
God hates sin, but he loves us. He is doing everything to protect us from sin because He loves us.
He gave us a path to eternity. He gave His blood to cover our mistakes – even those we’ve committed in ignorance. All He asks is that we approach Him with an honest heart that seeks and trusts in Him and His word. It shouldn’t be so difficult.
For some of us, this is too much. We like our lives in our own hands. Nonetheless, His story is undoubtedly the greatest and most complete story of love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness the world has ever seen, if we can recognize it.
The real tragedy of Sodom and Gomorrah is not their destruction. It is the captivity and the degradation that the people found themselves in because of the deception of sin. It is the damage and loss of the pure and innocent. The end of these two cities is our example of the end of the ways of the world. It must happen because the ways of the world will continue to seek the destruction of everything pure, lovely, and innocent. Therefore, children are the target of so many horrible perversions. However, God still was willing to have mercy on them for the sake of only ten good, righteous people, lights in their dark world.
Therefore, we must make our stand against the ways of the world and not succumb to the tickling of our ears by these pastors and priests or the deception of sin.
God truly wants all humanity to come to His ways and to be able to live in a loving relationship with Him and with those around us.
His people must remove themselves from being god and acknowledge Him as God. His people recognize that His ways are the ways that we are to love and to live. His people must place Him and those around us above ourselves. Of course, that is all because He loves us and has compassion and mercy on us. Transformation is all about His compassion, kindness, and forgiveness and serving Him according to His ways no longer living to serve ourselves.
The definition of compassion is the ‘sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.’
God has compassion for all of us. He has mercy and forgiveness for His people. We must be the same. We must have compassion for others, caught in sin. They’ve been tricked and are being held captive. They may think they’ve got it all together, but at the end of the road, only destruction and unfulfillment awaits.
We can see in Psalms 145:8 that God is full of compassion and mercy: “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”
This is who God is, and this is who we need to be.
Mercy and forgiveness
God has mercy on us. He forgives us every day. We are, as God’s people, also required to do this.
Matthew 6: 14-15 states:
‘For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.’
Unforgiveness is also a sin and like all sin it captures us to serve our flesh and to abandon our service to God. It is damaging to those around us and to the person who does not want to forgive.
There will be no better end than to be forgiven by God Himself on our day of judgment.
This life is not our best life. The best is yet to come! Anyone who preaches differently is a false prophet.
Revelation 21:1-4: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’”
Isn’t it wonderful? Heaven will come to His people.
This will be our best life; nothing we have ever seen or heard will compare to it.
1 Corinthians 2:9 “…but just as it is written, ‘things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.’”
God’s compassion, mercy, and forgiveness are for those who love Him. This is not a feeling of love. It is a hard and fast love that requires us ‘to give” Him our lives. 1 Corinthians is referencing the Exodus 20 verses from our Salvation Covenant.
Exodus 20:5-6: “…for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
There’s a line in the sand.
You can either love Him or not love Him. There is no middle ground.
Revelation 3:16-19 says it straightforwardly: “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.’”
Stories of restoration
The most beautiful stories in His word are the stories of restoration. There are many!
One of my favorites is Jeremiah 3:16-19:
“‘In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘people will no longer say, The ark of the covenant of the Lord.’ It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the Lord. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. In those days the people of Judah will join the people of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance. ‘I myself said, How gladly would I treat you like my children and give you a pleasant land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation…’”
Or Revelation 21:21-25: “The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.”
This concludes our discussion on the Third Commandment. There is much more to it than meets the eye!
As we go forward let us recognize that we are the priests awaiting the ultimate fulfillment of new covenant in the age-to-come and remember the order given to the priests immediately following the Aaronic blessing in Numbers 6:27: “And they shall put My Shem upon the Bnei Yisroel, and I will bless them” (OJB).
His Shem, His breath, His character on His people.
Until next time, shalom!