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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

God's promise of peace
Date Posted: February 21, 2021

There is a promise of peace to Israel who is currently dispersed into the nations, scattered around the world. Isaiah prophesied that Israel would need a much larger space because her descendants would be coming home and inheriting the nations.

Conversely, the children of the desolate (that is the Gentiles, Goyim) far out number those of the married woman (Israel). Israel was charged with being the Light of the World and of converting others to know God. Yet, they got confused with God’s command to have nothing to do with the inhabitants of Canaan. They were legalistic concerning the infection of the wickedness from the surrounding nations, and yet, they embraced that wickedness over and over. Finally, God had to scatter the ten tribes of Israel because of their stubbornness and their idolatry. All that can be found in the third chapter of Jeremiah.

However, even with all her wickedness, God’s greatest desire was for His wife to return to Him.

Isaiah 54:4 Do not fear, for you shall not be shamed, nor shall you be abashed, for you shall not be wounded. For you shall forget the shame of your youth, and you shall not remember the reproach of your widowhood any more.

God discarded Israel, (but is keeping track of her. We know this because in the Revelation, God seals His chosen witnesses Revelation 7:3 saying, Do not hurt the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. Then announces 12 thousand from each tribe will be sealed.) This is precisely what God did to Israel because of her iniquity. He cast her off as a divorced woman. Jeremiah 3 is the dictate of the divorce decree. There are many other references that point to her iniquity, but this one suffices. The bright spot of hope is that this is not forever. God will gather His chosen people to Himself. As for us, we have a perpetual covenant of peace through the Holy Spirit, it is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Sin has it's consequences, it always has. However, we have a better portion, a greater hope, and a deeper peace simply because we belong to Him.

There are all kinds of examples in the Bible of sin and consequences.

Adam – the sin of unbelief—he repented – but the consequence was physical death.

Cain – the sin of murder – he did not repent – he wandered the earth.

Abraham – the sin of lying which sprang from unbelief of God’s ultimate protection -- he did repent – he got his wife back

Sarah – the sin of unbelief and laughing at God – she did repent – bore a son, Isaac

Jacob – the sin of unbelief and he deceived brother/father – he repented -- wrestled with God and preserved a nation.

Joseph – the sin of pride – he repented – he saved Israel in Egypt

Rueben – the sin of sleeping with his father’s wife – do not know if he repented – passed over for royalty (Jesus did not come from his line.)

Simeon—the sin of murder. He killed a tribe for offense to sister -- passed over royalty

Judah—he married foreign wife, did not teach his sons in the way of the Lord – he did repent—from him came the royal lineage and through him came Jesus

Moses – murder, disobedience, lack of self-control, in a fit of temper he struck the rock instead of speaking – for this he did not go to Canaan.

And that is just in Genesis and Exodus. Those were sins against God and against man. We seldom regard consequences when we are young. We've got the IWHTM Syndrom (It Won't Happen To Me). As we grow and mature, we recognize consequences for what they are, such as an F on a school paper because we didn't study, or as we grow older, a lost job for making poor judgement calls, bad work ethics, or other bad things.

Our selfish acts of disobedience will result in consequences. Nothing happens in secret that will not be exposed to the light. The most wonderful thing is that the LORD forgives the past. His great compassion is far beyond understanding. If we were to be asked to give our first born son to pay for the lives of the most wicked of people who had nothing of worth to give back, our hearts would be granite and our faces be flint. Yet, God has mercy for us because while we were yet sinners, Christ willingly died for us. God has mercy for those who rejected His Son because He foreknew it, and planned for it.

What happens to our past moral and spiritual failures when we repent of our sins and claim God’s forgiveness? I keep going back to these verses. Because He is God, He can do this.

Hebrews 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more."

Because I am not God, it is much more difficult for me to forgive. I want to give my brother-in-law a good shake and ask him, “What were you thinking? How dare you do that to my sister?” I want to shake my Bible in his face and scream “Shame on you.” But, is that God’s way or my own anger? It doesn’t matter what sin is committed, God will forgive. Except the unpardonable sin and that is the sin committed by the self-righteous bigot who attributes the deeds of the Holy Spirit to the Devil.

Hebrews 10:17 also He adds, "their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more."

But, once repentance is accomplished, once the pride is gone and the spirit is broken, once forgiveness is asked for, God reaches down and takes that sin, tossing it where it can never again accost, accuse or indict. That sin is as if it had never been committed. But, we are not like that. We hold on to it. We wallow in it. We add up all the sins done to us or to those we love and make walls of them. What we don’t realize is those walls have built in speakers that drown out the voice of God. Those walls harden the heart. Those walls steal our joy, destroy our peace, kill our fellowship with God. Those walls are built with supplies from Satan. We must learn to let go of those, to forgive or our peace is destroyed along with our fellowship.

Isaiah 38:17 Behold, for peace was bitter to me, most bitter; but You loved my soul from the pit of destruction; You have cast all my sins behind Your back.

I understand this intellectually, certainly. How it works is beyond my understanding. Peace is as allusive as a wisp of fog when we harbor feelings of anger, bitterness, or unforgiveness towards our siblings in Christ. We lash out, unthinking of how the words can slice and dice. We use the Bible as an offensive Sword, and I do mean that in both senses of the word. It is offensive to God for us to use His Word to decimate our brothers and sisters.

We are Children of God. We bear His name. We are charged with bringing the Light of the Gospel to the world through the Great Commission. Jesus said the way the world would know Him was by our love for one another. We should be acting and speaking in such a way that whoever we meet, where ever we go, someone says, “I covet what they have.”

Any Christian who has back slid down that slippery slope into the Valley of Death, must understand that the LORD has called all of us back to Himself as a much beloved, betrothed wife. Because of Christ, God will never reject us. He treasures us far above rubies. We should treasure each other far above diamonds at the very least.

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Biography Information:
Gina Burgess has taught Sunday School and Discipleship Training for almost three decades. (Don't tell her that makes her old.) She earned her Master's in Communication in 2013.

She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.

If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection

Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and
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