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Riddles

The teacher writes four words on the blackboard, one over the other— defeat, deduct, defense, and detail.

“Class”, she says, “Let’s see if we can spend the next hour using these four words in a sentence.” Little Johnny says, “That’s easy,” walks up to the board and adds four more,

Defeat of Deduct went over Defense before Detail.

Johnny is a bright boy… :-) But what will he someday make of another word problem—a riddle that has far greater implications than to show how clever he is? “How, by adding any number of words, can he make sense out of all that follows when God describes himself to Moses as:

“Compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin—Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; [punishing] the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation” (Exodus 34;6-7)?

Imagine we are little Jonie. What do we see in those words? How can the God of Scripture expect us to make sense and a meaningful sentence out of words that seem to signal a God who promises to forgive parents while punishing their children and grandchildren?

Clue:? What if we added four words— As Genesis 3 shows

Imagine what would have happened if our first parents and their children had been allowed to live forever without any evidence that something had gone terribly wrong? Would anyone ever look back— without the pain of consequence— either our own choices— or of someone else in the gene pool of our humanity?

Would anyone look back in regret, or forward in hope?

Would any of us look up long enough to stake our life, and spend our love on a God who is “Compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin?

 


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