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NIV Job 11 God Forgets Our Sins…. really? December 9, 2013

Posted by michaelnjohns in Uncategorized.

Oh, how I wish that God would speak,
    that he would open his lips against you
and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom,
    for true wisdom has two sides.
    Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.

I read this and had red flags going off all over in my head.  But this is how the new NIV (2011, the older one isn’t online anywhere any more.)  “God has even forgotten some of your sin.”  OK, I ask the NIV editors, if that’s true, which ones does he forget?  What are the requirements for forgetfulness?  In the KJV and The Message, it’s a different story. 

It looks like the word ish’e or yash’eh “forget,” is being interpreted in the NIV translators’ minds as “granting oblivion” ish’kakh, which is interesting.

Then I started studying the word and the origins.  I looked Strongs concordance and I looked at the Hebrew Interlinear Bible, to see how they stacked up.  There are beautiful sermons on forgetting, and beautiful songs about how God forgives and forgets our sins.  And I realized Job’s detractor, and the NIV 2011 in this instance, are correct, in the case of Job.  After all, Job had been scrupulous about offering the correct sacrifices to God for his own sins, as well as for the sins of his family.  This meant he had asked God to receive his offerings, even against secret sins.  The New Testaments says “If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”  (I John 1:9).  I don’t know how to translate Hebrew.  But I was looking for the language to see if it was a straightforward error in the word-for-word translation, or if it was something more subtle.  What I found was something more subtle.

     Subtle differences can change the very nature of God.  Or not.  What I had been brought up to understand was that God knew we had sins, but if we asked for forgiveness they were covered over, and God saw the righteousness as a covering.  The way I had always read this verse was that Zophar was telling Job that God was more merciful than Job deserved.  The way this verse reads in the new NIV, pictures God like Harry Potter’s Dumbledore, pulling the memory out of his head to drop into the Pensieve.  But then instead of storing it in there, God blasts it out of existence. 


Pensieve is a great play on words- pensive:  thoughtful  + sieve:  a sifter removing unwanted things and leaving behind what is wanted.

If God really does forget a sin once we have committed and confessed it, then a lot of my life is going to be forgotten.  What matters is that he remembers me, that I remain, like King David, a man after God’s own heart, who continually confesses and then seeks God for future direction.  I can identify with the character of David. 

This isn’t a confession per se of adultery or murder, although I’ve read that Jesus said if you think it, it’s just as bad as doing it, in which case…  something like a thousand virtual corpses, and maybe even more virtual affairs, need to be confessed.  My eyes are overflowing with adultery; my heart is full of murder, and that’s just two commandments.  Someone tailgates, or cuts me off on the road, driving dangerously, and I’ve done it- they’re dead.  I look at a girl like Mariah Carey or Hayley Atwell and I’ve had it- and I mean “it” …and that’s just in the last 5 years.  What I identify with is that David is highly distractable.  “I’m bored with wars, I think I’ll just stay home this year… oh look!  It’s a naked woman.”  And then he goes off chasing her.  The identification is that I’m bored with working on everything in life, I want to escape, temporarily from it.  I get distracted from the task and 30 minutes later I haven’t finished the dishes because I flipped on the TV.  Life is full of work, things we should do, things we have to do, so full I want to just stop one thing and work on whatever until it’s done and then move on to the next.  But the tasks come in like spikes on an iron maiden! 

I made a list of all the things that needed to be done, or fixed, around the house, just walking around one day.  The list was more than 2 pages long.  And more things break every day.  Last week the fan on our computer started whining, the telltale sign that it is dying, and it has just been returned to us from the shop, a week before the whine started.  And today my car alerted me that it’s time to change the oil.  Great.  Just Gah-reat!  Two more things on the list that’s already more than 2 pages long.  Think of it:  a distraction from war!  I completely understand David.

“Life is a series of [storms and] tidal waves,” said a wise teacher of mine. 

What if Zophar was right about Job, and God had forgotten some of his sins?  Does it make any difference?  The holy standards of God, even if mis-interpreted by presumptuous Zophar, still stand.  Any imperfection, any behavioral dalliance, that doesn’t match God’s, makes us all the same before God.  We’re flawed by our very nature, we have chosen to be imperfect, and one person’s imperfection is no different than anyone elses, before God anyway.

Does the subtle difference change the nature of God, as it comes to our sins, as we stand before Him?  By no means.  Or, as my dad is fond of saying, depends who you listen to. 

There are those who say God doesn’t hold our sins against us any more, He’s changed because the world is under grace and we’re all forgiven and going to heaven.  That’d mean everyone who says anything is sin is wrong and we shouldn’t do it, is a crackpot religious nutcase.  There are televangelists and talkshow hosts heaped onto the world’s itching ears, making millions of dollars telling people this.  (II Timothy 4:3)  

There are those who say that only those who confess their sins, repent (turn away from sin), fall before God, and ask forgiveness are actually forgiven.  If those are the crackpot religious nutcases, I’m calling myself one.  Sure, Jesus wants to forgive our sins.  But the New Testament is full of stuff about confession, repentance (Even Jesus commanded people to turn from their sins), and throwing ourselves by faith on God’s mercy.

God does not change (Malachi 3:6).  We cast the god we like in our own image.  Sometimes we elect him President.  Sometimes we make her a multi-millonaire media mogul.  If our God changed, then whatever whim of social consciousness and selfishness overcame us would be fine, and moral “rightness” would be determined by popular vote.  And if eternal standards could be determined by popular vote, then why not by individual vote?

Someone recently asked me if I thought there was a difference between the sin of divorce, which God says he hates, and homosexuality, which God described as an abomination.  There is.  For one sin, God prescribed in the Old Testament, death by stoning.  Adultery, in any form, was punishable by death.  Witness the woman caught and thrown at Jesus’ feet (Leviticus 20:10, John 8).  The religious leaders correctly interpreted the letter of the law and awaited Jesus’ approval to throw the stones.  And witness, Leviticus 18:22 for the other adultery judgement.  But divorce, which God hates (Malachi 2:16), God wants us to put that one in writing.  If your heart is so hard that your spouse wants a divorce from you to be free enough to do what God wants, God wants you to sign a paper to get that one done (Deuteronomy 24:3).  It’s just my opinion, but if someone wants a divorce from someone else, somebody’s got a hard heart, and you should pray for God to soften it and discover your sin and turn away from it.  I don’t think it’s so much the divorce that God hates, as He hates our hard hearts that can’t learn to love one another.  And maybe it’s the hardness of hearts that cause us to reject God’s standards for our behavior and call our own standards right, as if that made any difference to God.  You say, what about shellfish and clothing requirements?  I say, if you can wear leather and silk in one garment more than once, go for it, but it’s going to look tacky, or fall apart fast.  I also say, those were God’s standards to make His chosen people stand out in a crowd and look different.  What are God’s standards for His people today?  To follow Christ.  To love one another.  If you call yourself a Christ follower, those are the important things, what Jesus said to do.  Love.  Serve.  Help.  Encourage.  Give.  It’s not about the outer wardrobe in the New Testament.  It’s about the inner attitude.  It’s as true today as it was in the Old Testament, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart” (I Sam 16:7)

And if you’re reading this and calling me a homophobe, consider:  I used to care, I used to argue, but I’m done.  I don’t care anymore.  I don’t care what your lifestyle and behavior choices are.  I don’t care what you choose to do.  I don’t care that you believe it’s what you are and not what you do, and it’s fair if you don’t care that I believe it’s what you do and not what you are.  I.  Don’t.  Care.  Do whatever you want.  Set your own standards for life.  Just don’t impinge upon my freedoms, and my beliefs, by saying I’m wrong for believing that God says what sin is, and God says that sin is sin.  Your sin is sin.  And more importantly, MY sin is sin.  I hope you accept God’s standards and turn away from your sin, before the day.  You say, “Don’t try to force your beliefs on me?”  I’m not.  But don’t try to force your beliefs and standards on me either.  I’m just reporting the message, so “please don’t shoot the messenger,” as they say.

C.S. Lewis said it pretty eloquently, that God doesn’t change His mind- He changes ours.  So I pray it for my reader, and more importantly, I pray it for myself:

Oh God, mold me and make me more like You.  Help me to see and understand how Your righteousness and Your holy standards for my life are right, and mine are more often wrong.  And when my heart turns and runs to sin, turn it back toward Your face, and give me strength and courage to run back to You.  I’m sorry.  I’m the prodigal son, sinning my own sins and wasting my time and money accomplishing nothing.  I need to turn and come back to You and be Your servant.  And I’m the older brother, casting judgement and my own selfish whims before You as if I could judge You.  I need to be humble before You and wait for blessings if blessings are granted.  Blot my sin out, and forget it, and then, when the sin is gone, remember me.



1. Cole - February 21, 2014

Job 11:6 NASB: And show you the secrets of wisdom! For sound wisdom has two sides. Know then that God forgets a part of your iniquity.

Job 11:6 KJV: And that he would shew thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is! Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth.

2. Cole - February 21, 2014

Zophar’s argument is flawed, but his observation is borne out elsewhere in Scripture: (a) For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more [Hebrews 8:12]. Also see Psalm 103:11-12 and Isaiah 43:22-25.

I care about other people, but if I worry or stress about the things they are doing wrong, I should admit that I have just judged them. That’s the rub. Don’t stop caring for people. But it is okay to set aside your concerns for what they do that may be sinful.

Prayers to you.

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