When God RESTORES
In my last sermon – April 2015—about becoming a forgiving person like Christ – I ended by saying that when God forgives, he adds a blessing to the forgiven person. I gave a few quick examples but I was out of time and had to hurry. I hope you’ll hear that sermon. Our Creator God loves restoring relationships and loves making things new. Today’s blog is about “When God restores”. I hope you find some little kernels of truth that encourage you.
Think for just a second: when people restore something, we’re usually trying to get “it” back to its original condition – whether an old dresser, a house, a car. Sometimes we make it even better than it ever was, but most of the time we think of a “restored” item as “being almost as good as new”.
When God restores, He doesn’t just restore to the original condition – oh no. That’s not the way God is. He makes it better than it ever was! When He restores a relationship and forgives someone, he blesses the person – as he did Job, and as he promises to do for Israel at the end of Joel 2. God makes the quality and quantity bigger and better. For example, the greater our offense was against God, the greater his grace abounds even way beyond the sin. That’s certainly not the way humans would normally react to serious sins against us. So for example:
Romans 5:20 KJV
“Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did MUCH MORE abound…”
The Greek words used here are interesting. The Greek – in terms of grace – uses the term for SUPER-abounded. There are two totally different words being used here, though in English the same word (abound) is used. We offend God, and when forgiven and restored, his grace is greater than our sin. Grace super-abounds.
Click on “Continue reading” – to the right – to read examples of how God’s laws of restoration are for much, much more than just making something the same as it was. We’ll also discuss briefly what this means in our daily life as well.
There are so many examples about restoration being for more than what the starting point was, even in the laws God gave us through Moses. God’s laws tell us, for example, that when someone stole an ox or sheep, they were not to restore just one ox or one sheep, but much more. Let’s read it. And remember, God’s words are not just about oxen and sheep, but to teach us lessons we can apply in our daily lives.
Exodus 22:1, 4, 9 (2 Samuel 12:6)
"If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep.” Verse 4 says if the animal is found in the thief’s hand, he must restore DOUBLE in that case – 2 oxen or 2 sheep, in other words. Also verse 9.
So restoring the stolen ox means giving back at least two, and maybe five, depending on the circumstances. Zacchaeus spoke of restoring fourfold (Luke 19:8).
But the lesson is far greater than just oxen and sheep. So when we restore a relationship, remember to give blessings and gifts with the restoration as you want to be clear, that you are back to a relationship that is better than it was before. I know, that’s hard to do. But forgiving and restoring from the heart is all about this level, as revealed by our God. And when God gives us His spirit, which is largely what Pentecost is all about, yes – we can increasingly function in our relationships as God does, through and by His Spirit in us.
So knowing this, when we read that we’re waiting for “the restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21), go back and read the verses before and after that. It’s all about forgiveness of sin and restoring our relationship with our Maker. It’s about forgiving sin--our sin. Our trespasses. Our offences. Read all the way to verse 26, where we’re told that this restoration is about us turning from our iniquities.
When God restores, He takes it to a better condition than it started out at. I’ve heard sermons that say God wants to restore us to the conditions in the Garden of Eden, for example. I used to think the same way. But I’ve come to see that the restorations in the new covenant go WAY beyond what was available in the Garden of Eden! But that’s not my point in this blog – except to say that when God restores, it goes way beyond what something started out at.
When we turn to our Savior and follow him as our leader and Shepherd, we are told in that most famous Psalm 23 – “He restoreth my soul…” Now can you imagine what that means? Scripture is so clear in other passages that when our Maker sets about restoring us, we are made stronger, healthier, more righteous, more blessed than ever before! Believe it! Look for it. Ask for it. Accept it.
Remember again in Psalm 23:5-6, we read “my cup runneth over”. We can’t contain all that God wants to do for us. But first, we have to turn to Him with all our hearts and then learn to ASK and learn to RECEIVE from God. (Be sure to hear my sermon on “How well do we actively RECEIVE?” – given June 24, 2014). So many of us could have so much more – including me! - - if we would just learn to ask in faith and then praise Him even before we have received what we hope for. I have a sermon on that too: “Praising God BEFORE we see his answers”, given March 2014.
David saw His Maker in this light: “Surely GOODNESS and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
Is that how you see your life with God? That surely goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life?
You can also ask for restoration of your health. In Jeremiah 30:17, after God speaks of the correction he dishes out nationally to our peoples for our sins, when we repent and turn to him, he says,
“I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds”, says YHVH…”
You can ask for restoration of your finances. God speaks of “restoring the years the locust has eaten”. When God blesses, it comes heaped to the brim, pressed down and running over. So ASK. And RECEIVE. Ask for God to restore first of all your relationship with HIM, then gratefully get ready to receive as he will, if you believe and receive in faith, restore your marriage, your health, your finances, your relationships with your children and friends – and on and on. Ask, and you shall receive, pressed down, brimming over. It doesn’t always happen all at once, of course, but believe and start praising even before you see his answers moving in your life.
I want to also remind us that there are even lessons of restoration given in the sacrifices one would bring when they were repentant and wanted their sins covered. In the trespass offering, for example, a person would bring a lamb from the flock or kid of the goats and a priest would examine the animal to be sacrificed to be sure it was without blemish. (See Leviticus 5)
But here’s the point: the priest was not examining the person who brought the offering. No. He examined the sheep, or later in Leviticus 5:18 – a ram without blemish! Now Who did the ram represent? Of course – Yeshua, Jesus our Messiah! Of course. So God examines His SON when we come to repent, and upon examination of His Son – pictured by the ram -- He accepts the blameless sacrifice of Yeshua for us -- and restores our relationship, stronger than it was before! As it says at the end of Lev 5:18 –“and it shall be forgiven him”. The sinner who had brought the ram, lamb or kid can now walk away in the favor of the Almighty, restored in his/her relationship with God.
Let me say again: the priest did NOT examine the person bringing the ram. No, he examined the RAM. When we come repentant before God and plead to be restored in our relationship and tell our heavenly Father that we accept the substitutionary sacrifice of His Son in our stead, our Father sees a perfect sacrifice: His own eternal companion – Yeshua, who was the Word, who was with God and was God from the beginning (John 1:1-3).
Of course justice was done against our sins – on the cross at Calvary. God’s intense anger at the sin, at the way we treated Him and his law – all that anger was poured out on to Christ in our behalf. When we accept that, and repent, and are baptized in water and receive then the baptism of the Holy Spirit – we are now IN Christ. It is baptism of the Spirit that makes us a part of the body of Christ and “in HIM” (1 Cor. 12:13).
And so now there’s no more condemnation for those in Christ. Just restoration – God’s way. Where sin abounded, grace super-abounds. Christ took on himself on the cross or tree of Calvary all the condemnation of our sins. So God cannot and will not condemn us again for sins whose penalty – death – have been paid. No, He is eager instead to restore us to a higher and better condition than before – when we accept His love, his grace and his forgiveness and turn from our evil way. We must turn. We must not walk after the flesh any longer as a way of life. Now we walk “in him”, after the spirit – as Christ empowers us by His spirit. Now we walk seeking our God and His way.
“There is therefore now NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
God wants us applying this level of forgiveness and acceptance in our own relationships with one another: restoring one another to something greater than we ever had before. No more condemnation. We don’t keep record of any wrong. We don’t talk about someone’s sins with anyone else…. No, we just want restoration. That’s Yah’s way. It brings healing to all parties and our heavenly Father sees it and smiles down on us, His children.
Have a wonderful day, year and life as we learn to accept our wonderful Father’s bountiful and beautiful restorations in our Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus) our Lord and Master.