KEY TEXT: Ps 80:1-3 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth. Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up your might and come to save us! Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
KEY THOT: The northern kingdom of Israel (comprising the ten tribes, inclusive of the two tribes of Joseph--Ephraim and Manasseh)—is in danger of imminent destruction by the invading Assyrian army. In the midst of such calamity, the psalmist cries out to God as the Shepherd of Israel to restore His flock by shining his face upon Israel and saving them. But the northern kingdom has gone far too down the road of rebellion and idolatry for repentance and restoration to be possible. Soon, the ten tribes would be invaded and deported to the foreign land of Assyrian, never to return to the holy land.
God’s patience has a limit. He is long-suffering but he does not restore without repentance. Israel was far too down the road of spiritual decline and backsliding into sin where restoration has become impossible. The only thing that remains is divine judgment. And we should not presume on the long-suffering of God and act contrary and willfully against God’s will as revealed in His Word. Otherwise, we may reach a point of no repentance and no restoration. While we can still repent to be restored and saved, we should do so.God’s mercy is extended to everyone who repents, but his judgment remains on those who have chosen to ignore his laws and live in willful rebellion against God’s will.
While restoration is always possible, it is contingent on our repentance—viz., to change our thinking about our sinful lifestyle and acknowledge that God is right about His judgment against sin. God is holy, and sin and holiness cannot coexist. But thank God that no sin cannot be forgiven and cleansed when we confess (homologeo—agree with God) that we are living in rebellion against his truth. Restoration is always possible—so long as repentance is present. But for some, the thinking has become warped and beyond renewal. For such, only judgment remains.
Whenever we take our spiritual and moral bearing and mooring away from God’s truth in His word, we are danger of not recognizing sin when we have fallen into it. Only regular reflection of ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word will show our sins as sins. The discipline of daily bible meditation will keep us from being deceived by Satan to lure us into a sinful lifestyle: “Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:13-15).
Father, deliver us from spiritual blindness so that we can know the truth about our own spiritual condition to repent and be restored to You. Amen.