In God’s Face
In a world where people have a hard time grasping the concept of sin, we struggle even more with the truth that our sins are offensive to God. Isn’t it His job to forgive? Isn’t He big enough to get over it?
God says to Jonah, “their wickedness has come up before Me.” (Jonah 1:2 NAS95S) The phrase could be translated literally, “their wickedness has come right up in My face.”
We have a hard time facing up to our sins against God. Perhaps this illustration will help (in part, gleaned from Colin S. Smith, “The Ambassador's Job Description: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21” in Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns, D.A. Carson, general editor, 2000, p.185). If I dig a hole in the garden with a shovel and cut an earthworm in half, I’m not bothered at all. If I hit a squirrel with my car, I go, “eww,” but don’t lose any sleep. If I back over the neighbor’s child, the lives of several people, including my own are shattered. But when I sin against God - and all sin is against God - it affects my relationship with God eternally, unless that sin is dealt with in a satisfactory way. The gravity of an offense is measured by the value of the being that is offended. Cut a worm in half. Two worms. Hit a squirrel. Nuts. But human beings created in the image of God, devastating. And offending God. Damning.
So Nineveh’s sin is serious. So is your’s. So is mine.
When King David fornicated with Bathsheba, conceiving a child while her husband was on the battlefield fighting for David’s kingdom and David’s honor, David sinned. When Uriah refused to come home and sleep with his wife (so as to cover up David’s earlier sin) while his comrades were still fighting, and so David had him placed on the front lines in order to be killed, David sinned. And finally, when David confessed his sin, he said, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,” (Psalms 51:4 ESV). Strange. Seems to me David sinned against more people than just God. But David got something right. Because of the value of the Person offended, his sin was mostly, primarily against God.
When I sin, it has consequences for me and for those around me. But the magnitude of my sin is right up there “in God’s face.”