The Good News of Jesus Christ

Month: July 2021 Page 2 of 4

The God of Joshua

God forgives people when their life shows they really want to live how God wants them to live. So God’s forgiveness is conditional.

Since we know God forgives who he wants, we know he does not forgive who he does not want to forgive. Again, God’s forgiveness depends on his will. And as stated before, forgiveness is not a given. Yet even when someone asks for God to forgive her or him, forgiveness is not a given. This means a person can ask God to forgive her or him and not get forgiveness from God. Asking God to forgive us is not the only condition for forgiveness. We can see this when the leader of the Israelites, Joshua, advises the Israelites how they should live. Joshua tells the Israelites “God will not forgive their sins” (Joshua 24:19). But this claim is not a broad statement about forgiveness. It relates to something specific. For Joshua later states the condition of forgiveness. He says, “If you abandon the LORD and serve other gods, he will turn against you and destroy you, even though he has been so good to you” (Joshua 24:20). In other words, God’s forgiveness depends on a sincere walk with God. That means it is futile to ask for God to forgive us while living an evil life. In that case, God does not listen to a request for forgiveness. So God does not forgive sin by request only. A person’s life must be in line with such a request of forgiveness.

God Forgives a Vow

God forgives people without a request. And this forgiveness can be a law and partially dependent on men.

Now “forgive” does not always mean to carry, lift, or take away. It also means to pardon or spare. We see this kind of meaning when we look at how God forgives women of their vows. When women made vows and were daughters or married, they were subject to their fathers’ or husbands’ authority. Hence, the Bible says, “…if her father refuses to let her fulfill the vow” and “…if her husband refuses to let her fulfill the vow which she vowed, the Lord will forgive her” (Numbers 30:5, 8). So if a daughter or wife made a vow and their fathers or husbands forbade them, God would forgive them. This act of forgiveness differs from the act of forgiveness Moses requested for the Israelites. For here, no one asks God to forgive. God forgives automatically upon the refusal of the father or husband. Still, we cannot say God’s will is absent in this action. He is the one who gave this law to the Israelites to follow. So God still wants, by his will, to forgive. Only here, forgiveness does not happen upon request. It happens because of a law of God. It is interesting that forgiveness, here, partially depends on the will of a man. In fact, if the father or husband did not refuse the daughter’s or wife’s vow, the daughter or wife would be bound to the vow. And if the daughter or wife did not fulfil her vow, she would be guilty of the sin of breaking a vow to God.

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