Covenant + Law

What happened to Israel when they failed to keep God’s Law?

But the LORD, the God of their ancestors sent word against them by the hand of his messengers, sending them time and time again, for he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. But they kept ridiculing God’s messengers, despising his words, and scoffing at his prophets, until the LORD’s wrath was so stirred up against his people that there was no remedy. So he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their fit young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary. He had no pity on young men or young women, elderly or aged; he handed them all over to him. He took everything to Babylon — all the articles of God’s temple, large and small, the treasures of the LORD’s temple, and the treasures of the king and his officials. Then the Chaldeans burned God’s temple. They tore down Jerusalem’s wall, burned all its palaces, and destroyed all its valuable articles.
He deported those who escaped from the sword to Babylon, and they became servants to him and his sons until the rise of the Persian kingdom. 2 Chronicles 36:15-20

Therefore say, ‘This is what the Lord GOD says: Though I sent them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countries, yet for a little while I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.’ Ezekiel 11:16

Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a strong hand and made your name renowned as it is this day, we have sinned, we have acted wickedly. Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, may your anger and wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become an object of ridicule to all those around us. Daniel 9:15-16

God sent Israel out of the land He gave them and into exile. Then He removed His presence from the temple.

The greatest consequence of sin is separation from God. Because God is holy—that is, because God is so good and pure—He can’t be in the presence of evil and sin. These are the opposite of what is holy. 

The authors of the Bible understood exile to be a curse that God had put on them, one that required repentance in order to have the curses lifted and to be restored to their homeland (Deuteronomy 28-30 and Daniel 9:4-19). When we are separated from God, the proper response is to repent.  

It works like this. Because God is holy, His nature and presence makes war on what is corrupt and unholy—even when it is within us, the people He loves. Not because God isn’t love, but because He is! His holiness and love will fight against everything that is trying to destroy us, even when it is within us.

But when we’re unholy, there’s a danger in us being close to the holy presence of God. God’s holiness is at war with the sin within us.  

This is why Adam and Eve were banned from the garden. This is why it was dangerous for the Israelites to approach Mount Sinai where God appeared. And this is why God sent the people of Israel into exile when they broke the covenant, failed to keep the law, and became sinful. As a punishment, God expelled them from the Promised Land so that they would experience the loss of their relationship with Him.

Have you ever experienced feeling separated from God? We want to be close to Him and to be in a vibrant relationship with Him. But that requires that we be holy, so we’re left wondering how we can become holy. 

It is simple as well as life-changing. We turn from sin and turn to Him. We ask His forgiveness and trust His mercy for us in Jesus. As we commit ourselves to prayer, to Scripture-reading, to fellowship in a local church, and to serving others like Jesus did, we begin to see His mercy at work in us.

Spend some time today thinking about how you can turn from what separates you from God so you can be closer to God and to His people.

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