Did you know Adam and Eve weren't the first ones to ask forgiveness from God?
I’m so conditioned to the story of Adam and Eve from my Sunday school days that I might have missed this little nugget if it weren’t for my husband, Marc. We were in our weekly small group Bible Study when he humbly pointed out this fact found in Genesis 3 about Adam and Eve.
I was floored.
Yes, Adam and Eve were the first ones to eat the apple, sin, and forced out of the garden for good--yet instead of telling God they had sinned and/or asking for His forgiveness, Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent (Genesis 3:12-13). The Bible does not record them repenting of their sin.
I couldn’t believe all my thirty years of learning about sin, forgiveness, and the story of Adam and Eve that I had missed a significant biblical truth. At the time, my pastor was going through the book of Genesis. So I emailed him, asking, who, then, was the first person to ask God for His forgiveness? Before I hit “Send” I guessed if it was King David.
The first person recorded in the Bible who admitted his sin and asked for forgiveness was Pharaoh.
Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. “This time I have sinned,” he said to them. “The Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. Pray to the Lord, for we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go; you don’t have to stay any longer” (Exodus 9:27-28, NIV).
I had assumed it was David because the story of he and Bathsheba is so well known (see 2 Samuel 11) . He not only received God’s forgiveness after his affair with her and the murder of her husband, Uriah, but he also didn’t die because of his sin. He was the first person to show the fruit of repentance, not simply giving lip service to God.
So, what significance is there in Pharaoh’s story? God had hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that He could show His glory through each plague. God sent the plague of blood, frogs, gnats, flies, livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and the plague on the firstborn. Though Pharaoh asked for forgiveness, he was not truly repentant and therefore God punished him and the rest of the Egyptians.
There were actually a few others ahead of David who also asked God for His forgiveness, but, like Pharaoh, their repentance was not true. The first was Balaam (Numbers 22:34), then Achan (Joshua 7:20), and finally Saul (1 Samuel 15:24-26). My pastor pointed out that Balaam later went back on his word, Achan and his family were stoned to death, and God rejected Saul as king over Israel.
Yikes! What about David?
Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die” (2 Samuel 12:13-14, NIV).
Maybe the reason why I jumped from Adam and Eve right to David is because David didn’t try to deny or blame others.
God forgave David.
Not only did God pardon David’s sin--and boy was it a dozy--he didn’t not go back on his word like Pharaoh, Balaam, Achan, and Saul. My pastor said in his email it was David who demonstrated the fruit of repentance, and therefore is called a man after God’s own heart.
Maybe forgiveness isn’t as mind blowing as you think.
God doesn’t need to use in a million and one plagues (like Pharaoh), turn us into a talking donkey (like Balaam), or even send a prophet to confront us (like Saul).
Repentance and forgiveness start in ourselves.
- Do you choose to personally acknowledge your sin instead of blaming someone else (even if they had a part in it)?
- Do you choose to shoulder the responsibility instead of fearing what others may think (even if you are someone important)?
- Are you truly sorry instead of just saying that you are (and acting a different way)?
I believe this passage is the key:
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it” (Isaiah 30:15, NIV).
What’s interesting is that each and every person listed above: Adam and Eve, Pharaoh, Balaam, Achan, Saul, and David had to be confronted of their sin.
I don’t know about you, but that thought is even more mind blowing than knowing Adam and Eve didn’t ask God for His forgiveness. Maybe it’s because we, like Adam and Eve, are initially afraid of what others will think, say, or do. Maybe that’s why we hide in our sin instead of embracing grace we fear His judgment.
The Lord disciplines and rebukes the one he loves (Proverbs 3:12; 12:1; 13:24, Hebrews 12:6, Revelation 3:19).
- Today if you fear God’s judgment more than His rich love and unending mercy--don’t fear.
- Today if you fear others may or may not forgive you for the wrong you have caused--don’t delay.
- Today if you can’t forgive yourself for the hurt you’ve caused--let it go!
Friends, do you how much God loves you, and because He loves you He wants to make you and I aware of our sin. Today, choose to stop hiding your sin and shame.
Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.” Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:8b-11, NIV).
Renee Fisher, the Devotional Diva®, is the spirited speaker and author of Faithbook of Jesus, Not Another Dating Book, Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me, and Loves Me Not. A graduate of Biola University, Renee’s mission in life is to “spur others forward” (Hebrews 10:24) using the lessons learned from her own trials to encourage others in their walk with God. She and her husband, Marc, live in California with their dog, Star. Learn more about Renee at www.devotionaldiva.com.