I would have expected the Lord to have given a stronger denunciation, to have issued a more horrible threat to those who would dare disobey His divine commands. Wouldn’t it have been more in keeping with our common view of God for Him to say, “If you do not do so, then take note, you’ve sinned against the LORD; and I’m going to strike you with lightening bolts from heaven?” Doesn’t it seem a bit soft, and not a little silly, to tell men that if they break His law that the result of their sin will soon overtake them, and that the seed they sow will one day bloom into bitterness?” Is this kind of language what we would have expected from the omnipotent, majestic, holy God of Heaven? No, because we have never before thought worthily of His might and majesty. We have considered Him to be One who would simply destroy us if we failed to obey Him. However, the scripture tells us that it is not He who will destroy us, but rather it is we who will destroy ourselves. That’s why He wants to save us from, well, us.
This verse isn’t a threat, but rather a warning. It is a warning to keep us from doing to ourselves something that He hates even more than what we do to Him. Why did He say to Adam and Eve, “In the day that you eat of the forbidden fruit you will surely die?” Did He issue that warning because He is some sadistic deity who revels in retribution? No, He gave that warning because He knows that sin is, at its heart, mortal. Your sin carries its sting in its own bosom, and because He loves us, the Father desires to find it and destroy it before it finds and destroys you.
Contrary to what you may think, the God of heaven is not out to destroy you. He desperately wants to save you from yourself. I know that in my own life, my past relentlessly pursues me. Days I thought long dead live on, and deeds I thought deeply buried rise up to meet me every morning. That’s why I so desperately need the Lord’s protection and provision. I need Him to perfect that in my life which I have left incomplete, and undo those things that I have wrongly done. I need Him to repair the places I have ruined, heal the hearts I have hurt, and dry the eyes I have flooded. I long to have Him turn my evil into good so that I would recognize it when seen. I need Him to overrule those things I’ve done in anger and weave them into a divine tapestry so that even my wrath would be turned into praise for Him. May He take my yesterdays into His glorious light and transform them; that I may be surprised to learn how when I didn’t even realize it I was in fact working with Him. Then will it be that my former self will never find me again.