The following article is an excerpt from "A Book of Bible Study"
by Joseph F. Harwood.
To download the entire book in PDF format, visit our home page at https://www.abookofbiblestudy.net/
God’s warnings about the consequences of sin are clearly stated in the Bible, and His will that believers live a life separated from sin is also clearly taught. But what if we have participated in sin, bringing the painful discipline of God’s judgment into our lives? For such times, believers have not only God’s promise of His forgiveness, but we also His promises of restoration when we return to Him in obedience.
In Joel 2:18-19 we read of the Lord’s promise to restore His blessings to His people after His judgment had been realized in their lives, and after their repentance. Later in this same chapter we again read of God’s promise of mercy and restoration for His people who have forsaken their sin and returned to Him. God spoke through the prophet, saying:
“Then I will make up to you for the
That the swarming locust has eaten,
The creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust,
My great army which I sent among you.
“You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied
And praise the name of the Lord your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
Then My people will never be put to shame.” (Joel 2:25-26)
After we have heeded God’s call to return to Him, having forsaken our sin and having resolved to move forward living our lives in obedience to His word, let us not dwell on the failings of the past. Instead, let us have the same mindset as the Apostle Paul had in his own life: “…forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14).
In the book of Micah we again read of God’s forgiveness, mercy and restoration for His people. Micah wrote:
Who is a God like You, who pardons
And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in unchanging love.
He will again have compassion on us;
He will tread our iniquities under foot.
Yes, You will cast all their sins
Into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:18-19)
Surely God will tread our sins underfoot. He will not allow sin to continue or have dominion in the life of one of His children. With sin in the life of one of God’s people comes the rod of correction. If anyone can continue in his sin without being disciplined by God, then he is illegitimate and not a true son of God (Hebrews 12:5-8).
In Zephaniah 3:14-20, we see that God promised restoration to His people after the consequences of their sins had come upon them. In these verses Zephaniah encouraged Israel, telling them to rejoice and be glad. He said that God would take away their punishment and the harm that they feared. He also told them that God would take delight in them and once again quiet them with His love. Speaking through the prophet, God promised His people that He would deal with those who had oppressed them, He would restore their lost dignity and honor, and He would restore the fortunes they had lost because of their sins.
In the book of Zechariah, we find more of God’s promises of restoration as He calls His people to return to Him. God spoke through the prophet saying:
“Return to the stronghold, O prisoners who have the hope;
This very day I am declaring that I will restore double to you.” (Zechariah 9:12).
In the book of Jeremiah there are more promises of restoration for God’s people. In Jeremiah 31:3-5 God spoke to His people, saying that He has drawn them to Himself with an everlasting love. He promised that He would restore them and build them up again. He said that they would again be joyful and plant vineyards, enjoying the fruit from them. Later in the same chapter, God spoke through the prophet again saying:
“I have surely heard Ephraim
‘You have chastised me, and I was chastised,
Like an untrained calf;
Bring me back that I may be restored,
For You are the Lord my God.
‘For after I turned back, I repented;
And after I was instructed, I smote on my thigh;
I was ashamed and also humiliated
Because I bore the reproach of my youth.’
“Is Ephraim My dear son?
Is he a delightful child?
Indeed, as often as I have spoken against him,
I certainly still remember him;
Therefore My heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:18-20)
God also spoke through the prophet Isaiah of His forgiveness, and He called for His sinning people to return to Him as we read in the following passages:
“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your
transgressions for My own sake,
And I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25)
“Remember these things, O
And Israel, for you are My servant;
I have formed you, you are My servant,
O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me.
“I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud
And your sins like a heavy mist.
Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” (Isaiah 44:21-22)
Speaking through the prophet Joel, God called to His sinning people to return to Him “even now”, even after all of the sins they had committed. And He called to them to return “with fasting, weeping and mourning”. Joel said that the Lord “is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in loving kindness”, and that He relents from sending the calamity of His judgments into the lives of His people (Joel 2:12-13).
As those who have been called to faith in Jesus Christ, we have received God’s mercy in that we have been forgiven our sins and reconciled to Him through the blood of His Son. Even though we may sin at times after we have been saved, we can take comfort in God’s promise that no power in all of creation will be able to separate us from His love, which is ours in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:35-39).
Despite our failings, God will continue the good work of salvation, which He began in us when He called us to faith in His Son, and He will carry that work through to completion (Philippians 1:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). As recipients of His mercy and grace let us give thanks to God for His love, which endures forever (Psalm 136), and for the restoration that He provides for His people when we forsake our disobedience and return to Him.