Sin Cycle, Grace Cycle

Sin Cycle, Grace Cycle

Written by: Larry Elliott

Shortly after experiencing the miraculous rescue from Egypt the nation of Israel was quick to revert back to slavery. We are told in Exodus that, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us.” And the golden calf was created.

As they wandered toward the Promised Land “the people complained about their hardships. ‘Who will give us meat?! Oh, that we had meat to eat!  We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.

They continued to grumble, (look that word up in your concordance) “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

“How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me?”

The prophets use the illustration of harlotry and adultery to portray the foolishness and destructive nature of idolatry, “And they shall return your lewdness upon you, you shall bear the penalty for your sinful idolatry, and you shall know that I am the Lord God.”

This was an oft’ repeated theme in the story of God’s people. Grumbling, rebellion, and idolatry brought discipline, but regularly there are these promises of God’s lovingkindness, I will restore, I will regather, I will protect, I will forgive, I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me…these are the sounds of grace and they are inserted within the rebellion and idolatry of the nation!!!!!

This theme is the fabric of all the prophets, but no book of the Bible gives us a more vivid picture of this “cycle” than the book of Judges. It is spelled out most succinctly in Judges 2:16-19 and then lived out over the pages of the next 400 years of history! The sequence goes like this:

  1. Sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord – rebellion.
  2. And the anger of the Lord burned against Israel – retribution.
  3. The sons of Israel cried to the Lord – repentance.
  4. The Lord was moved to pity (raised up judges) – restoration.
  5. REPEAT!!! Go back to #1. 😖

For nearly 400 years the nation provoked and endured this “cycle”! In some cases, even the Judges were corrupted by their success and the idolatrous culture around them. The sin got increasingly evil until complete apostasy and anarchy ruled the land. The final “R” rated pages of the book declare “In those days there was no king in Israel, everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

The story betrays the human condition. We are incapable of goodness, of righteousness and obedience! But for the grace of God we are inescapably lost, confused, and broken. Into this hopeless trauma God speaks of his willingness to intervene and one day make a way for his people to follow him and do it with a pure heart. Stay tuned.

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