Friday, May 29, 2009

Remembering Sin

Amos 8: The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob, "Surely I will never forget any of their works."
Jeremiah 31: "For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

So the one prophet says God will never forget their sin. The other prophet says God will never remember their sin.

In class today, Pastor was explaining how both are true. The first is true according to the Law. The second is true according to the Gospel. But isn't that rather paradoxical?

Amos goes on in chapter 8 to talk about the earth quaking and about the sky being darkened at noon. He talks about feasts being turned to mourning, and songs being turned to lamentation -- like mourning for an only son. This sounds to me like Amos is prophesying about Jesus' crucifixion.

How can it be true that God will never forget their sin? Because every single sin ever committed was laid upon His Son. He didn't forget one of them. Not a single sin remains. They were all placed upon Him, and they were all punished. God did not forget those sins, but made sure He remembered to gather them all into one place to make atonement for them.

But for us who are in Christ, God will not remember our sin. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. There is nothing left for Him to remember because the punishment was fully meted out.

It's so cool how both God's remembering and God's forgetting come to pass in that one place on that one Friday afternoon of darkness and earthquake and lamentation.


  1. and to this i say

    Amen and Amen again
    you always do seem to have the ability to distill properly!!
    Thanks be to our Father
    Who remembered every one of our sins, imputed them to His only Son and then proceeded to FORGET them!!

  2. nathan fischer5/30/2009 11:40 PM

    I think there's also a sense in which, for the verses you quoted from Amos, God means what He says about those people. The language there reminds me very strongly of the parable between the rich man and Lazarus, or the Beatitudes even. The wicked swallow up the poor, they cause them to die. They also want the Sabbath to end so that they can sell their wheat (ie., forget the Bread of Christ, we want our own bread and money).

    It sounds like God is talking about those who have rejected His only Son that is later mentioned. They have persecuted the faithful. I don't think the work mentioned is simply that they did "bad things" - the work that the Lord will not forget is also that they rejected Jesus.

    I guess I don't really see the paradox. In Amos, the people cling to themselves and suppress the believers and reject the Lord - so the Lord (finally, in the end) rejects them. In Jeremiah, the prophet is praising the the grace and mercy of the Lord - the very grace and mercy that those in Amos 8 have completely and utterly rejected.

    While the beginning of Amos 8 doesn't say this, I kind of get that impression with the "basket of summer fruit" talk, too. Here the Lord has provided. He has given His gifts. That sounds good, like the forgiveness that Jeremiah is talking about.

    But the people have rejected that forgiveness.

    And I think there is comfort in Amos' words, especially for persecuted Christians. Certainly, as Christians, we pray for the salvation of all and that all would be turned to Christ! But here Amos seems to also be saying, in effect, "See, in Christ, you the poor of spirit will be oppressed, abused, etc. But those who reject Christ and who treat His Body in this way, the Lord has not forgotten them and He has not forgotten you. Though you suffer now, the Lord gives you the basket of summer fruit, His great gifts. Those who reject Him, though, to them He hands over to despair. This is your reward in Christ. This is their reward in themselves. They got what they wanted."

    And they really do get what they want! In the beginning of the passage, they want the Sabbath to be over so that they can sell their wheat. By the end of the passage, the Lord says that a famine will come, NOT of bread or water (that they will have in plenty), but rather a famine of His Word. They don't want the Sabbath, then fine, they don't get it.

    Of course, I'm not trying to say that we've done something that those wicked people haven't that makes us holier than them. Not at all. Faith is not our work. And, you know, I even agree with your interpretation to some extent...

    But I think there's something very important in that the Lord does not forget the works of man that Amos is talking about, and I don't think that does (in this case) contradict or set up a paradox for what Jeremiah is saying. And I think there's something very, very comforting (for the Christian) about both of them.

    Sorry for the long-windedness and "lecturing" tone. :-) I don't mean to sound so much like I'm disagreeing with you or anything. Because I don't think I am. At least, I definitely agree with everything you said. I just think that the other "dimension" of Amos' words are really important, too...

  3. nathan fischer5/30/2009 11:45 PM

    Hmm, and I contradicted myself. At first, I thought I disagreed with your interpretation, but then after thinking about it, I decided that I didn't, I just thought there was another dimension to it, as well. But I accidentally left in my comment that I kind of, sort of disagreed with it. And then in my last paragraph I said I didn't.

    The last paragraph is right (after I thought about it more). Sorry! I'm tired. It's late. I'm trying to prepare for mom coming and preaching and all of that, and I probably shouldn't go trying to post on blogs at this time of night. :-)

  4. What if I make it more succinct, Nathan?
    The Law is true.
    The Gospel is true.
    Some people would say they can't both be true.
    The paradox is resolved only in the Cross.

    Your paragraph about "finally they get what they asked for" (that the Sabbath be over and out of their way) is why the oppressors reap God's wrath and judgment, even though the place God remembered sin was when it was imputed to Jesus and paid for on the cross.