Less Than our Sins Deserve -- By Lyn Chaffart

"What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins have deserved and have given us a remnant like this." (Ezra 9:13-14 -- emphasis mine)

The setting is Jerusalem.  The people of Jerusalem have been robbed of their homeland, many of them have been slaughtered with the sword or have died of famine or pestilence.  And now, though a remnant has been allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple, the Jewish nation is still under the authority of pagan kings.  They are still suffering from fierce opposition from the peoples around them.  And in the midst of all of this, even while looking back on years and years of horrible atrocities suffered by his own people, Ezra the priest has the audacity to say, "and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins have deserved . . ."
 
Wow.  When you look at the extent of the punishment that has been dished out, how on Earth could Ezra say that they had been punished less than they deserved? 
 
But let's look at it from a different perspective.  The punishment given to the Jewish people was the result of hundreds of years of defying God, worshiping other gods, persecuting those who stood up for the Living God, committing all kinds of atrocities directly against the God of Heaven, "spitting in God's face" so to speak for the mighty blessings He do longed to pour out upon the people.  The people of Israel had been given chance after chance after chance.  But still they persist in defying God through idolatry.   
 
Yes, perhaps if we look at it from this perspective, the punishment does look a little more just, doesn't it?  And the fact that God preserved a remnant people out of the Babylonian exile does seem a bit more generous -- like perhaps they people had indeed received less punishment than their sins deserved! 
 
So where is the lesson in this for us?  Some of us might be tempted to point a finger at ancient Israel, but those who do are merely picking at specks out of the eyes of the ancient civilization, while ignoring the logs in their own eyes (Matt. 7:3-5)!  We, too, have committed atrocities against the Lord, and and sometimes we are forced to suffer the consequences of those atrocities!  When this happens, do we look at our circumstance and say, "Lord, how can you be allowing all of this terrible stuff to happen to me!  I thought you were a God of love!"  Or, like Ezra of old, do you look to your own actions, the same ones that caused the consequences you now suffer, and say, "and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins have deserved"?  The Bible tells us that the wages of any sin is death.  Death is what we all deserve.  That is the just punishment.  But by the grace of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, we do not have to suffer the punishment for our sin!  Any consequence of our own actions that we suffer is indeed, "less than our sings have deserved"
 
The next time you find yourselves in the middle of bad circumstances, why not try praising God from within the midst of them?  Praise God for His mercy and grace.  Praising God that you are NOT suffering the punishment you deserve.  Thank Him for the "break" He has given you in not forcing you to suffer the rightful punishment for your sin!  Remember, nothing that we suffer here on Earth is equal to the eternal punishment that is our just due!
 
"What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins have deserved and have given us a remnant like this."
(Ezra 9:13-14)
 
Love in Christ,

Lyn

Lyn Chaffart, Moderator, The Nugget, Scriptural Nuggets ( www.scripturalnuggets.org  ), Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org