Monday, February 2, 2009

Assuming (and Forgiving) Sin

So I've been working through my Bible reading plan (which I've been enjoying, by the way) and just got through 2 Chronicles 6 today.

2 Chr. 6 is Solomon's prayer of dedication for the newly-built temple. What stands out is the way that throughout the prayer, rather than saying, "Lord, if we sin, please forgive us," the language is, "Lord, when we sin, please forgive us."

Sin is an assumed reality, and Solomon asks in advance for forgiveness apparently for as many different kinds of sin as he can think of. I was tempted to read on this morning to see God's answer in ch. 7. I know what it is, of course, but the story has me a bit on the edge of my seat.

This is one of those rare times when someone in Israel has it figured out. The Chronicler is obviously writing well after this event, probably during the exile, and as such includes at the end of the chapter Solomon's long section pleading for forgiveness even if the people should be exiled. There is thus a sense in which the text preaches to the people: look guys, even way out here in Babylon, God may well still forgive us.

Of course, we have to wait to find out if He says that He will.

In any case, the Chronicler understands: Israel's history is a history of failure. They're the Chicago Cubs of divine revelation. He can look back and see that at every point along the way, Israel has failed. And it won't even take long: the very next king after Solomon will split the kingdom.

And it is remarkable that the temple represents the forgiveness of sin, because it is the temple that still does. That is, it is Jesus, the living temple, who still does. Jesus comes and redirects temple imagery into himself, and we go to him for forgiveness.

We should still assume sin in an inaugurated but not consummated kingdom. We should also still repent of it and go to the Temple for our forgiveness.

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