The book of Proverbs, that nearly never-ending collection of wisdom sayings. It's in the Bible, so my brain tells me I should read it. And it would be hard to say that what is written there is not wise, but frankly sometimes the proverbs seem so isolated. They seem like one wise saying after another, with little connection to either the one before or after, and with little connection to God. But every once in a while God shows Himself clearly, and He knocks my socks off. Such was my reading of Proverbs 16:6 yesterday.
"By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
This proverb was written long before the coming of Jesus into the world, but it is a word from God that looks forward and finds it's fulfillment in Jesus.
A number of things are present in the work of Chris on the cross, one of them being the atonement for sin, or what the author of Proverbs calls "iniquity." Any sin, and all sin, the things we would all call serious sins and the things we try to minimize as being "not that bad," are grievous offenses against a holy God. Their presence demands payment, or "atonement," by anyone who would desire to come into the presence of God. Not being holy ourselves there is no way that we can wash the stain of sin away. There are no good deeds that we can do to balance the scales in our favor. We are left in a mess that has no possible solution, except for the one the proverb points to. Iniquity is atoned for "by steadfast love and faithfulness."
Try as we might, we cannot live lives of steadfast love and faithfulness. The only one who did that is Jesus. As God the Son, He lived a life of steadfast love and faithfulness towards God the Father, a life that was free from the stain of sin and filled with love for both His Father and for those He came to save. As we think of Good Friday we think of the atonement He made with His life, a life laid down for the sin of all who would have faith in Him. A life laid down for my sin. Laid down for yours.
He lay his life down, and two days later He took it back up again. This is the Easter moment, and this is where the second half of the proverb speaks just as powerfully as the first. I can live in "the fear of the Lord," understanding "fear" to be "great reverence," because I know that Jesus gave His life for me. For my salvation. I can live a life of great reverence for Him, having an understanding of those things that please God and those that don't, leaning on Him as I turn from evil and towards Him.
Proverbs, Good Friday and Easter come together. Iniquity is atoned for by the steadfast love and faithfulness of Jesus, so that I can live for His glory, today and every day.
God spoke to me through this proverb. As we move through Good Friday and to Easter may He also speak to you. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.