While reading through a passage in the Old Testament recently, I was reminded of the compassion of our God.
In 1 Chronicles 21 David, the man after God’s own heart, and the king of Israel, sinned. He had the people numbered and it displeased God. As a result, God struck the Israelites. David cried out to God and Gad, the seer, is sent to him and he is given a choice of three things occurring. Notice David’s reply in verse 13, "I am in great distress; please let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great. But do not let me fall into the hand of men." (NASB)
David realizes that God is merciful whereas, men may not be. That is still true today. We sin. We do things that are offensive to God. And yet, we have a God who is merciful to forgive us our sins when we confess them. Does that mean He will overlook the sin and everything will be okay? Not in the least. For in this very passage, God sent a pestilence that destroyed 70,000 men of Israel (14).
Sometimes when we sin we think we can pray, ask God’s forgiveness, and everything will be okay with no consequences. However, we know that we must pay the consequences. When a man is in jail and while there has the good news of Jesus presented to him and he is immersed into his Lord and forgiven, does he get to walk out of the prison and not have to pay the consequences of his crime? No.
Sometimes people suffer because of what others have done. When a certain decision is made it may affect the whole family (consider Achan, Joshua 7) at other times a whole nation as this passage tells us. We must be diligent to make sure that we are walking with God and not behaving in a manner that will harm us and those around us.
Sometimes people suffer because of their own sin. Two people from the New Testament come to mind, a husband and wife. Ananias and Sapphira lied about a piece of property they had sold. Ananias came first and because he lied to the Holy Spirit, he fell dead. Three hours later his wife came and told the same story. She too fell dead.
God is merciful, but just. That’s the God I want to serve, don’t you?