“All My Sins Behind Your Back” ( Isaiah 39: 17, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


In a poem addressed to the Lord God Almighty, Hezekiah praises Him, writing: “Your Love has delivered me from the Pit of destruction, for You have thrown all my sins behind Your back.”

This same king, perhaps only a few days later, has a visit from the son of Baladan, the king of Babylon. Merodach-baladan brings letters and a gift because Baladan has heard that Hezekiah was sick but is recovered from his illness. Hezekiah is so happy with the gift he shows off his entire treasure house. “There is nothing in his palace and in all his realm that Hezekiah does not show them.”

When Isaiah tells Hezekiah, “Hear the Word of the Lord of Hosts: The time will come when everything in your palace and all that your fathers have stored up until this day will be carried off to Babylon; nothing will be left” and warns that even some “descendants who come from you will be taken away”; Hezekiah is pleased because this isn’t to happen during his lifetime.

Here’s a man who is deathly ill, recovers by God’s grace, praises God for “throwing all [his] sins” where they are not seen or thought of any longer — who, only awhile later, is foolish and cowardly, quickly forgetting the nature of his God.

Isaiah writes, “Comfort My people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and announce to her that her time of forced labor is over, her iniquity has been pardoned, and she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” “See, the Lord God comes with strength, and His power establishes His rule. His reward is with Him, and His gifts accompany Him. He protects His flock like a shepherd; He gathers His lambs in His arms and carries them in the fold of His garment. He gently leads those who are nursing.” (Isaiah 40:1-2, 10-11)

For whatever flaws and faults Hezekiah carries with him, he is nevertheless carried gently by His Savior in the folds of His garment. His iniquity is pardoned, and he receives double from the Lord’s hand. His labor is ended. Most importantly, the reward of the Lord is with Him, and His gifts accompany Him. Without Jesus Christ the Shepherd, the lambs only wander.

Let us be grateful our God has “thrown all [our] sins behind [His] back!”

Advertisements

“Which Way To Good?” ( Jeremiah 6: 16, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


The Lord God says, “Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths: Which is the way to good? Then take it and find rest for yourselves. But they protest, ‘We won’t!’ I appoint watchmen over you and say, ‘Listen for the sound of the ram’s horn.’ But they protest, ‘We won’t listen!’ ” (Jeremiah 6:16-17)

John the Baptist, in a camel-hair garment and leather belt around his waist, comes to the Wilderness of Judea and says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near!” John, who eats locusts and honey, is the “voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord; make His paths straight!” (Matthew 3:2-3) People listen, flocking to him to confess their sins and be baptized in the Jordan River.

Among these people are Sadducees and Pharisees. John calls out to them, “Brood of vipers!” The religious leaders of his day; and John calls them ‘vipers.’ He asks them, “Who warns you to flee the coming wrath?” essentially agreeing they own the knowledge needed to escape destruction. He goes on, however, to accuse them of not acting on that knowledge. “Therefore,” John says, “produce fruit consistent with repentance.” John warns them with the ram’s horn not to presume that because Abraham is their father, they are safe. God is able to make His children “from these stones!” declares John. The Baptist is almost saying, these stones are better children of God than you are! (Matthew 3:7-10) 

John baptizes with water, but tells of “the One who is coming after me.” (Matthew 3:11) John knows Jesus is more powerful and will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. The Holy Spirit will seal the repentant; and “the chaff He will burn up with fire that never goes out.” (Matthew 3:12) 

Which is the way to good? Jesus says, “I Am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

“Guarded From The Evil One” ( 2 Thessalonians 3: 3, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


A bodyguard forms a living shield between assailant and target, whether the assailant is armed and highly dangerous or unarmed and highly annoying. The bodyguard is willing to take a bullet or a verbal barb as the protector.

Jesus is our bodyguard. He stands between us and our adversary, who prowls around like a hungry lion, seeking anyone he may devour. Jesus “directs [our] hearts to God’s love” and to His own endurance. (2 Thessalonians 3:5) In this, Jesus gives us His protection, His perseverance, and God’s awesome love. In Him, we are strengthened.

Jesus is the ultimate shield from the evil one. After all, “from the beginning, God [chooses] [us] for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He calls [us] to this through [the] gospel, so that [we] might obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)

Therefore, “may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loves us and gives us eternal encouragement and good hope by grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

“For You Alone Know Every Human Heart” ( 1 Kings 8:39, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


Solomon prays “before the altar of the Lord in front of the entire congregation of Israel” (1 Kings 8:22) He asks, rhetorically, “Will God indeed live on earth? Even heaven, the highest heaven, cannot contain You, much less this temple I have built.”

Solomon asks God for mercy when the people of Israel “sin against You, and they return to You and praise Your Name, and they pray and plead with You.” (1 Kings 8:33) Solomon asks God to “hear in heaven and forgive the sin of Your people Israel.” (1 Kings 8:34) He begs God to “teach them the good way they should walk in.” (1 Kings 8:36) “May You hear in heaven, Your dwelling place, and may You forgive, act, and repay the man, according to all his ways, since You know his heart, for You alone know every human heart.”

Solomon adds, “When they sin against You — for there is no one who does not sin — and You are angry with them and hand them over to the enemy, and when they come to their senses and repent and petition You: ‘We have sinned and done wrong; we have been wicked,’ and when they return to You with their whole mind and heart and when they pray to You, may You hear in heaven, Your dwelling place, their prayer and petition and uphold their cause. May You forgive Your people who sinned against You, and may You give them compassion. For they are Your people and Your inheritance. For You, Lord God, have set them apart as Your inheritance.” (1 Kings 8:46-53 selected)

God alone knows every human heart. And every human heart has sinned.

Thank You, heavenly Father, for Your willingness to show mercy. Thank You that the Lord Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to approach the throne of grace, despite our sinfulness and unworthiness. Thank You that You give us Your own holiness through the shedding of Your Son’s blood and the gift of Your Holy Spirit. Let us forever be grateful, showing our love for You in praise. In Jesus’ Name, amen.