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Numbers 13-14 – Prayer for the Rebellious – Part 4

While reading through God’s response to Moses’s prayer in Numbers 14:20-38, I thought of a few things. First, God is sometimes willing to pardon sin. One of our favorite characteristics of God is His willingness to forgive our sins (Isa. 1:18; 1 John 1:9). So when we pray for a rebellious person, we have great confidence in God’s ability to forgive because of what He has said and done in the past.

Second, God is sometimes unwilling to pardon anymore. This is part of another characteristic of God—His holiness and justice. As evidenced in Genesis 6, Genesis 15:16, and Jonah 3, God does give people time to repent. But there comes a time where He is no longer willing to hold back judgment (ex. Sodom and Gomorrah). We must remember this about God as well.

When praying for a rebellious person, we should remember both sides. On one hand we see a person’s egregious wickedness against God. They are flaunting their sinful lifestyle in God’s face and do deserve the judgment that will surely come (Rom. 1:18-32). God’s judgment on that person would be a good reminder to others that sin has its consequences and that God does not allow people to get away with sin. This is good and is part of God’s plan. This also gives Him glory for being holy when many are not.

On the other hand, God’s mercy toward such rebellious people can also give Him glory. When a sinner (like each one of us) repents of his sin and turns to God for forgiveness this, too, brings God glory when He pardons their sin. Others will see what God has done and praise Him for His patience. But we must never forget that God’s mercy toward sinners came at a great cost. He can pardon and still be just because Jesus paid for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2) with His own blood.