The sons of Israel said to the LORD, “We have sinned, do to us whatever seems good to You; only please deliver us this day.” So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD; and He could bear the misery of Israel no longer. — Judges 10:15-16, NASB
Jews around the world are observing a time of intense reflection, repentance, and seeking forgiveness known as the Days of Awe, or Ten Days of Repentance. Our devotions during this time relate to this most holy time on the Jewish calendar, which culminates on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. To learn more about the Jewish perspective on atonement and its connection to atonement in the Christian faith, download our complimentary Bible study.
The ancient rabbis, in a landmark work called Seder Eliyahu Zuta, commented that this passage is so astounding that, had it not been written clearly in the book of Judges, no one would have believed it!
So what, in fact, is so astonishing about these verses? The rabbis point to the fact that contained within these two short verses is a testament to one of the most precious gifts given by God to humanity: the gift of a second chance.
The Jews of the time had forgotten God. Even after all the kindnesses that the Almighty had done for them, the people turned to false deities for spiritual edification. After a transgression of such magnitude, how could God ever forgive them? We might have thought that after committing such a grievous sin, they would have lost God’s love forever.
And yet, as soon as the Israelites offered a sincere repentance, the verse in Judges 10:15-16 immediately tells us: “And he could bear the misery of Israel no longer.” What an unbelievable reaction!
In fact, think about this in the context of our everyday relationships. If a friend or a loved one betrays our trust in a fundamental way, do we – upon receiving an apology – turn around and immediately forgive all the wrongs that have been done to us? On the contrary, most of us take time to get over such hurtful treatment. In fact, some of us never even get over it at all!
Thankfully, God is different. God’s love for humanity is so powerful that as soon as we truly and sincerely commit ourselves to Him, we are instantly granted a second chance. Indeed, God cherishes us with such potency that as soon as we demonstrate our desire to serve Him faithfully, He cannot bear another moment of our suffering and anguish.
Of course, once He grants us this second chance, it is up to us to use it wisely.
How will you use your second chance?