To Err is Human – To Forgive Divine

The theme of this post is to exhort and encourage those who may be feeling regret, guilt, and/or disappointments in life. The thought came as I was reminiscing about one of my favourite authors, Alexander Pope (1688-1744), regarded as one of the greatest English poets of the eighteenth century. In his writing An Essay on Criticism Part II, is Pope’s famous line- “Good-Nature and Good-Sense must ever join; To err is Humane; to Forgive, Divine”. Pope was suggesting that all people make mistakes and God forgives them; and so we are acting in a godlike (divine) way when we forgive. 

My longing to write this post is that it reminded me of other powerful words- “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3: 23-25).  Oh, the beautiful and strengthening words, so universal for all who believe!

I have purposely chosen for this post just three men straight from the Old Testament: Abraham, Jacob and Moses. I must also admit a certain degree of hesitation having to suggest few of their  mistakes or shortcomings in their own lives, which may have contributed to my delay in posting. 

Abraham  was a man of God.  Nevertheless a question crops up in the non-chivalric way he dealt with his meeting Abimelech king of Gerar (Genesis 20:1-16). Almighty God never give up his beloved ! Instead God made Abraham  the Father of faith. No wonder  he is rightfully called “Father Abraham”. His very name strikes a bell of praise in the hearts of many: e.g. Christians, Islam, Jews, etc.

As for Sarah his wife, she had her own mind-set for “speeding up the process”  bringing Hagar the maid into her scheme. God intervened and blessed both Abraham, Sarah and Hagar. By the way, Abraham also kept up the production line since the death of Sarah by taking another wife Keturah. She bore him six children (Genesis 25:1-18).   

Here comes the main thrust of Mr. Pope’s quote; the Grace of God and the loving and complete restoration!  Yes, our Loving Heavenly Father kept His promise and turned the negative situations and blessed Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Jacob et al. The depth of this real story is not the personal chagrin or discomfiture but rather how God Almighty once again deftly turned the cloudy affairs to mammoth blessings.   

Jacob was the grandson of Abraham and the son of Isaac. He was his mother Rebeka’s favourite son. It might be worthwhile reading his intriguing life (Genesis Chapter 27) including details of the mother and son’s plot. I still cannot fathom what prompted the parents to give Jacob a name with a meaning “sub planter”! Yes, he did live up to his name alright! 

Again, the Almighty God mercifully intervened. Look at the sub-planter’s  humble prayer and God’s response. God Almighty not only pardoned Jacob but blessed him! He even changed his name. Genesis 32: 27-29; And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, “and have prevailed”(Genesis 32:28); from then on, Jacob would be called Israel (Yisra`el, meaning “one that struggled with the divine angel” (Josephus), “one who has prevailed with God” (Rashi), “a man seeing God” (Whiston), “he will rule as God” (Strong).”

 Almighty God was gracious to Jacob and to his future generations and made him a Patriarch. Oh the mercies of God! Reminds me of that beautiful chorus, which I am singing to myself, as I am writing this post: 

 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,    

His mercies never come to an end

They are new every morning                             

New every morning

Great is Thy faithfulness,O Lord,  Great is Thy faithfulness.” 

God changed Jacob and God is still miraculously changing all who trust Him!

Moses-  a Hebrew by birth, brought up by Pharaoh’s daughter as a prince but selected by God as an emancipator of the entire Jewish nation”. Some of my “senior readers” may recall watching the famous 1956 movie directed by Cecil B. Demille’s – “The Ten Commandments”.

God, not only saved Moses from the river Nile but also landed him as the son of Pharaoh’s own daughter-  a member of the Egyptian royal family. After killing an Egyptian slave-master who was mistreating a Hebrew, Moses fled across the Red Sea to Midian, where he encountered the Angel of the Lord speaking to him his prophetic call from a burning bush on Mount Horeb. Can any even imagine the holy task of leading a difficult nation from slavery through deserts and hostile countries to the promised land?

There is a tinge of sadness in my heart when I read that God did not permit Moses to enter the Promised land for one error – hitting the rock twice instead of simply talking for life sustaining water. (Numbers 20:8-12).

My favourite verse on Moses is “There arose not a prophet since like unto Moses whom the Lord spake face to face”(Deut. 34:10). WOW! Moses died within sight of the Promised Land on Mount Nebo.

In closing, allow me to go beyond Mr. Pope’s quotation to the very words of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, perhaps the most well known Scripture verse; “God so loved the World, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Be encouraged, He never lets you down. We serve humbly the same God of Abraham, Jacob and Moses. He is the same yesterday, today and forever, Hallelujah!  

God bless,  Danny Paul

* Ps. God willing, I hope to continue this theme with the life of David at a later date.

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