God’s Word for You
Psalm 103:11-12 As far as the east is from the west
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, December 25, 2019
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his mercy toward those who fear him.
12 As far as the east is from the west,
that is how far he removes our rebellious sins from us.
For man, the insurmountable heights of heaven are distances to be tested with rockets and other engines. The distances between our world and our moon is inconsequential, a mere matter of a long weekend’s travel compared with the months it would take—most of a year—to get to our closest planetary neighbor. To reach the outer planets of our solar system takes ten to twelve years or more. Yet this is not the true measure of the heavens. God has taken our sins and sent them beyond the farthest star and every further. When God forgives a sin, he actually, really and truly forgets it. It is gone forever (in the true sense of forever). He will never reach back and pull it out of a bag to say “Aha!” This is the blessing of the Lord’s Supper. We walk forward with our sins still on our consciences, but then we eat and we drink, and the words of the new covenant are spoken, and we return to our places with our spirits lifted, our consciences clear. “Given—for you,” Jesus says, through the pastor’s familiar voice, and the forgiveness is full and free and forever.
“As far as the east is from the west.” How far is far? David does not say, “coast to coast,” but “east from west.” From David’s Jerusalem, to the east was desert as far as travelers could say, until the sandy scrub grasses gave way to Babylon, Ur of the Chaldeans, and the mysterious lands of Persia and India beyond, all the way to the sunrise. To the west was the sea, a sea that stretched beyond knowledge, pyramids and islands and kept going toward the sunset without touching shore or stone. Augustine said: “You should look to the sunrise and turn away from the sunset. When your sins fall, you rise and benefit…” (Sermon on Psalm 103). Your forgiveness will never fall. Light changes places with dark every twelve hours, but your forgiveness is eternal and everlasting.
This is the reason Christ came into the world, an infant laid in the rough arms of a manger making do for a cradle. He came down to assume our flesh, something he has never let go of since, so that, having human flesh, he could take up the burden of sin, and being God at the same time, he could atone for all of that sin because of his nature’s infinite value and capacity. He suffered on our account, God and man pierced through to the rough arms of a cross and the wrath of God the Father. He sent our sins hurtling over the horizon, left behind forever as the world spins away, and we are brought into God’s loving arms in paradise.
Pastor Timothy Smith