THE GOD OF SECOND CHANCES
by Wayne S. Walker
“When the LORD brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream” (Psalm 126:1). The general assumption is that this Psalm was written after the Israelites were allowed to return to Jerusalem from Babylonian captivity. The children of Israel were God’s chosen people under the old covenant. The descendants of Abraham were to become a great nation (Genesis 12:1-2). By accepting God’s covenant, He said they were “a special treasure to Me above all people….a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6). Today, all who become Christians under the new covenant are also “His own special people” (Titus 2:14).
However, Israel rebelled. During the days of the Judges “a generation arose after then who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). While there were times that were better than others, they continued to go downhill spiritually. “But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy” (2 Chronicles 36:16). We also rebel against God from time to time. Even though Christians are God’s chosen people, we are told that “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).
Therefore, Israel was punished. Moses had prophesied that if they disobeyed one of the curses would be that “the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other…and among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place” (Deuteronomy 28:64-65). And that is exactly what happened as God sent the Chaldeans to take His people into captivity (2 Chronicles 36:17-20). When we sin, God punishes us too. We may not always understand exactly how, but we know that “whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:6).
Yet, Israel was restored. God raised up Cyrus who allowed the Israelites to return from captivity to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple of God (Ezra 1:1-4). Of course, this involved the people’s repentance. On one occasion, they confessed their national sins, saying, “However, You are just in all that has befallen us; for You have dealt faithfully, but we have done wickedly” (Nehemiah 9:33). God enables Christians who sin to be restored too, telling us to repent of our sins and pray that the thoughts of our hearts might be forgiven us (Acts 8:22).
God offered Israel a second chance. Even though my aim is to live a righteous life, as I look back over my life I realize that I too have sinned many times. Yet, because He loves me, through the blood of Jesus Christ He always offers me a second chance as well. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Eternal praise and thanks be to the God of second chances!