Does God Leave His People? Answered by Jon Moffitt
Hi, this is Jon. Today on ask Theocast, I’m answering Connor’s question. He asks, “How do we reconcile passages that speak of God leaving his people with the assurance of the gospel?” In his question, he references multiple passages in the Old Testament where the children of Israel disobeyed God and then God punishes them, abandons them, or even at times, kills them, and he mentioned how sometimes when we sin, we may wonder, is God going to abandon and leave us, and how does this relate to the gospel?
I think it’s really important to understand what’s called covenant theology here. Understanding how God interacts with people in the Old Testament is very important. In the Old Testament, the children of Israel were in a covenant with God where if they obeyed the covenant, the mosaic covenant, they would receive blessings and protections, but if they disobeyed the covenant, then God would discipline them in various forms, turning them over to their own enemies, even at times he left them out in the wilderness to die, a whole entire generation, but that was not related to their salvation. Salvation is always in Christ and it is always by faith. We are told that the gospel was preached to Abraham and he believed. They were justified by faith, but in relationship to the land promises, in relationship to God’s presence and protection and blessing as related to the old covenant, then yes, they could violate that covenant and they would incur upon themselves that discipline that comes from God.
The promise of the new covenant is that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, meaning that those who have faith in Christ to be his, to be our representative, to be our replacement, we will never receive punishment for our sins. This is why we can confess our sins and he is always going to forgive us of our sins and we will never be condemned for our sins. This is First John one, nine, and also, Paul says this in Romans five, that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
In the mosaic covenant, the punishment for their sin is not in relationship to their standing before God, as far as their salvation, but in the blessings of the old covenant and the protections of the old covenant. It’s very helpful to understand this relationship. I encourage you to listen to our series that we did on covenant theology. You can find it on our website where we go through and explain how it is that God interacts with humanity and how the plan of redemption unfolds through covenants. On the side of the gospel, I think it is very important to understand that when you sin, all sin, whether past, present, or future, all sin is covered by the blood of Christ. There isn’t some sin that is covered. It’s not that only past sins are covered. Christ’s blood covers all of the Old Testament saints’ sins and it covers all of those going forward. Those of us who weren’t even born at the point, all of that sin is covered by the blood of Christ. It is sufficient, and on the cross, he says that it’s finished.
We have to rest in the fact that even though we have ongoing sin – as Paul said in Romans seven, the things I don’t want to do, I keep doing them – we rely on the gospel, the good news, that Christ’s blood covers all of our sins and that we have been cleansed by faith alone. There’s no works that are required, and as we continue to struggle against the flesh and at times may give in to the flesh, we confess those sins and receive ongoing forgiveness (First John 1:9).
The sacrificial system, by the way, was pointing to this final sacrifice. In the old covenant, they needed to daily, weekly, even yearly go to receive atonement for their sins. That pointed to the final sacrifice – the old covenant pointing us to the new covenant – which is Christ as the final sacrifice. As John says, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
So find your rest and hope there. God is not going to abandon you. God is not going to kill you. God is not going to forsake you. He has made a provision for this ongoing struggle with sin. It is prayer and confession. Christ’s blood covers it all. I hope you find rest.