Elohay Selichot – God of Forgiveness
When someone is urged to forgive another who has hurt them in some way, they are often urged to be “the bigger person.” One of the ways God shows His majesty and love is by willingly forgiving us.
In Nehemiah 9:17, after listing the many grievances of the Hebrew children as they made their way to the Promised Land, the scripture records, “But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore, you did not desert them.”
God had a plan to rescue the Israelites from slavery and He carried out His plan and promise even though they gave Him every reason to turn His back and let them march back into Egypt as they threatened to do every time they faced a new challenge.
When I consider where I would be if God decided my list of transgressions was too long to forgive, I am very grateful that He is not only willing, but eager to forgive and restore me.
My favorite Bible story about His enormous generosity is the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-24). In this story, the son decides that he wants to take his inheritance early and leave home to live a life of fun rather than serve his father. Christianity.com describes the situation this way, “He had a loving father, a good home, provision, a future, and an inheritance, but he traded it all in for temporal pleasures.” After squandering every cent of the money on wild living, he ended up with a job feeding the hogs of a man so wicked, the only pay he received was the right to eat the same slop as the hogs. Thinking it over, he remembered the good treatment received by the servants at his dad’s place and made up his mind to crawl home, beg forgiveness, and accept a meager position as a hired hand.
Allowing him to return under those conditions would seem generous given the selfish, cruel way he left, but his father did so much more. He was out on the road watching and waiting for his son to return. Dad was eager for him to come to his senses and return home. When he saw him, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. While the boy was still mumbling his apology, servants were ordered to deck him out in royal robes and fine jewelry and to prepare a massive party.
God is like that. He gave us free will and allows us to go it alone if that’s what we choose, all while we use His generosity to fund our ventures. When we finally come to our senses, He is right there, ready to forgive and forget. Psalm 103:12 states that he forgets our sins so completely that it’s as if they are as far removed as the east is from the west. Verses 13 and 14 go on to say, “The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.”
We never have to be afraid to come home to Him. He is always ready to receive us.
What do these verses show you about the nature of God?