Truth Matters #79
NO FISHING ALLOWED
In her book Tramp for the Lord, Holocaust survivor, Corrie ten Boon, tells of revisiting Germany in 1947 to share the gospel of God’s forgiveness through faith in Christ. She recounts: “I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and so I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander's mind, I like to think that that's where forgiven sins are thrown. 'When we confess our sins,' I said, 'God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever ... Then God places a sign out there that says No Fishing Allowed!'"
What a wonderful picture indeed! God casting our every sin to the bottom of the sea of His forgetfulness, and above them swells the waves of His everlasting mercy. This is a picture inspired by the prophet Micah (Micah 7:18-19). Micah ends his 8th century prophecy with a remarkable note of triumph. Despite Israel’s and Judah’s impending judgment and exile, God would not forget or fail to show mercy. God’s covenant love for His people would not be deterred or defeated by their sin. The prophet Micah reminds them and us that God is without peer in terms of His protecting and pardoning of His people (Micah 7:18; Ex. 15:11). God’s anger would not continue forever, and so the believing remnant is given the promise of future forgiveness. Just as God delivered Israel, and cast Pharaoh and his armies into the sea, so God will again deliver Israel from her enemies, and cast Israel’s sins into the sea (Micah 7:18-19; Ex. 14:13; 15:4).
By the way, this is only one of many beautiful metaphors and images that God employs in Scripture to describe His amazing and abundant forgiveness towards us. There is the image of snow in Isaiah 1:18. There is the image of a sealed bag in Job 14:17. There is the image of a thick cloud in Isaiah 44:22. And, lastly, there is the image of a canceled debt in Colossians 2:14.
In returning to Micah’s image, we must learn to live in the good of this wonderful promise. Satan is an accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10; cp. Job 1-2). He likes to discourage us by throwing old sins, and past failures in our face. He wants to impede our forward progress in Christ, by causing us to needlessly look back. We must forget those things which are behind, because God has (Phil. 3:13-14). We need to stop allowing Satan or an overly sensitive conscience to cause us to remember what God has clearly forgotten (Heb. 10:17). We need to stop dredging up sins that have been previously confessed, and forgiven (1 John 1:7-9). Remember, God has cast our sins into the depths of the sea and has placed a sign above them, NO FISHING ALLOWED!