The Scarlet Letter

John Plunkett

Part 1: April 12, 2017: First Day of Unleavened Bread

Part 2:  April 17, 2017: Last day of Unleavened Bread

Some time ago, Trish and I watched and enjoyed two movie versions of a very interesting and informative, nineteenth century novel called “The Scarlet Letter” which was written by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne. 

I read the novel quite a few years ago, and I would highly recommend it to virtually all age groups – from teenage up.

In the sermon today, and even more particularly on the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, I would like to link this Scarlet Letter story with the Feast of Unleavened Bread. I would like to focus on some of the good, strong lessons that I believe we can all learn from it.

But first, let me ask you to cast your minds forward to next week, to the seventh and last day of the Feast of unleavened Bread. 

Perhaps unfairly, the Last Day of Unleavened Bread seems to be somewhat overshadowed by the busy-ness of the pre-Passover season, the Passover itself, the Night to be Much Observed, and the First Day of Unleavened Bread. 

Many Church of God members think of the number seven in the Bible as being the number of spiritual perfection and completion. That may be true.

We are taught by God that, before and during this season, we are to think a lot about sin. And on the Last Day of Unleavened Bread, we have been traditionally – but quite rightly – led to think of:

• The children of Old Covenant Israel coming completely out of Egypt,

• The people of New Covenant Israel – God’s church – coming completely out of sin,

• Our coming completely out of Satan’s world,

• Our complete rejection of sin.

These are all very good topics to focus on as we celebrate this special day each year.  But there are two others which I would like to home in upon in this sermon today, on this First Day of Unleavened Bread, and which I'd like to continue with next week on the Last Day of Unleavened Bread.   Those two things are:

• The complete forgiveness of our sins by God,

• His complete forgetting of our sins.


The story of “The Scarlet Letter” is thought by many readers and critics to have been based upon real events, the details of which Hawthorne had unearthed in some dusty old records, which he describes in the forward of his book. 

For those of you who are not familiar with it, the story is set in seventeenth century Puritan New England, where a young woman (Hester Prynne) is publicly tried, pilloried, shamed and imprisoned by a Puritan court for her sin of adultery.  At that time and place adultery was also a civil crime.

But poor, fictional Hester had an additional penalty inflicted upon her, however, as she was condemned to wear a large, embroidered, red letter “A” on the front of her clothes whenever she ventured out in public. The letter “A,” of course, stands for “Adulteress.”  This additional, ongoing punishment was meant to perpetually shame her; and to frighten others into avoiding committing this same sin.

Nowhere in his book does Hawthorne condone the sin of adultery.  He does, however, effectively expose the equally sinful hypocrisy of Hester’s self-appointed, unofficial, self-righteous critics and gossips, as well as the lack of Christian mercy on behalf of her Puritan judges.

But how does this story apply to God’s church today?  I am not concentrating today on the sin of adultery; but we don’t live in "the good old days" of seventeenth century Puritan America. Thankfully!  We do live in the bustling, very immoral, twenty-first century North America, in which the people generally care very little about adultery. 

Despite its many potential dangers, adultery is fundamentally no worse than any other sin that any of us might commit.  It’s just that the potential results of adultery are usually more obvious than that of most other sins!  The results, or the built-in “signs” of that sin – an expanded waist-line and subsequent baby – should render unnecessary any requirement for the mother to have to endure the added shame of wearing a large, red letter “A” on the front of her clothes.

Again, the sins of an adulteress and the sins of her partner – the adulterer – are really no worse than any other sin; for example, the sins of hypocrisy, gossip or lack of mercy.  These are the ones that are brought out in the story.

You or I may not have committed adultery.  Or, as Jesus explained in His “sermon on the mount” (Matthew 5:27-28), we may not think we haven't.  But that's another story. 

But how would any of us like to be forced to wear a big letter “H” on our clothes for the sin of hypocrisy?  Or the letter “G” because we habitually gossip?  Or a big letter “M” because we lack true Christian mercy and are thus branded as “Merciless”?

Somebody might reason, "Yes, but such sins are small compared with those of adultery… aren’t they?" 

No, they are not!  To God there is no such thing as a “small sin” – in the same way as there is no such thing as a “white lie.” 

Sin is sin!  Sin is the transgression of God’s Holy Law (I John 3:4).  And every single sin has contributed to the death of Jesus Christ.   

Yes, every sin, whether it be extra-marital sexual activity, mass-murder, hypocrisy, lack of mercy or a seemingly-harmless gossip session.

If Jesus’ words are anything to go by (which, of course, they are!), if He had such a thing as a scale of the seriousness of sin (which I don't believe that He does), I'm sure that hypocrisy would rate much higher on that scale.  He condemns hypocrisy twenty-three times in the first three gospel accounts.

Sins Made Public?

Referring back to “The Scarlet Letter” story, it is possible – even probable – that the Puritans took their authority for their harsh stance on the public shaming of an adulteress from scriptures such as these:

Ecclesiastes 12:14:
For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Matthew 10:26:
Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. 

Mark 4:22:
For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was anything kept secret, but that it should come abroad
{NKJV: should come to light}.

Luke 12:
2:  For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.
3:  Therefore whatsoever you have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which you have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.

I Corinthians 4:5:
Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. 

These scriptures are all very true... in reference to unrepented-of sins!  And that is the important thing.  

Still, these very well-known scriptures bring more questions to mind.  And some of those questions can be quite disturbing. For example:

  1. Is it fair and right that any person’s sins be made public by fallible, human, ecclesiastical courts or church councils?
  2. Does any man – any fellow sinner – have the right to make another person’s sins public?
  3. Will God make our sins public at the return of Jesus Christ?

Although these five scriptures that we just read seem to imply this, the answer to the first two questions is quite definitely “No”!  And the answer to the third question, is both simple and comforting: 

God will not reveal what we have confessed to Him; He will not reveal what we have repented of; and He will not reveal what He has already forgiven.  And to add to all of this, He cannot reveal what He has forgotten! 

Yes, forgotten!  

Let us explore this concept a little more.  On at least two occasions, David, in a repentant attitude, begged God to forget his sins:

Psalms 25:7:
Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to your mercy remember you me for your goodness’ sake, O LORD.

Psalms 51:
1:  Have mercy upon me, O God, according to your loving-kindness: according unto the multitude of your tender mercies blot out my transgressions…
Verse 9:  Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

Were David’s earnest requests mere wishful thinking on his part? 

No, not at all!

Also, are God the Father and Jesus like those cruel Puritans?  Or are they like the Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus human lifetime? 

No.  Of course, we know that they are not.

David knew that they were (and still are) infinitely forgiving, loving and merciful.

Still, the Father and Jesus do require confession and repentance.  They do not just want these things from us; they demand a real, sincere change of direction.  Then, and only then, will they forgive us:

Isaiah 1:
16:  “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil;
17:  Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
18:  Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

In the same way as we human parents will happily forgive an errant child if he or she shows real fruits of remorse and promise of change, if we will truly repent, then our Father and Jesus will gladly forgive our sins.

And they will even forget them!

As Isaiah so graphically expressed here, though our former sins were glaring to God the Father and to Jesus, they were like letters and words boldly written in brilliant red ink on a stark, white page.  But upon our sincere repentance, the shed blood of Jesus blots out and completely covers them. 

What an astonishing miracle!  The red blood of Jesus – bleaching and neutralizing these scarlet letters. The words which detail our sins and our guilt were symbolically written in scarlet ink.  But when they are neutralized by the precious shed blood of the sinless Jesus, they become just as though they had been written invisible ink.  Invisible ink is designed to turn white on the page and to totally disappear:

Isaiah 43:25:
“I, even I, am He that blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and will not remember your sins.”

Jeremiah 31:34:
“And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD’: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them,” says the LORD: “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Hebrews 8:12:
“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”

Hebrews 10:17:
“And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”

Because of our sins, we are all guilty of the death of our Elder Brother – Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  But our loving Father tells us again and again that, if we will confess them (to Him! – not to some so-called "priest" in some little wooden closet!) and if we repent of them, He is so very willing to forgive them. 

But not only to forgive them; but as these scriptures that we have just read clearly tell us, even to forget them!  To totally blot them out of His perfect memory, just as though we had never committed them!

Back in the days of audio and video tape, did you ever mistakenly erase a favourite tape and wished that you hadn’t?  You fast-forwarded through the tape in the desperate hope that its contents are still somehow there.  But all you hear is total silence!  The tape is blank! 

Or in more recent times, have you ever mistakenly erased an important file from your computer and you haven’t been able to retrieve it?  You search and search in the vain hope that your file is still hiding somewhere on your hard disk.  But alas, no!  Not even ‘Norton Utilities’ will bring it back.  It is gone!... forever! 

These two common illustrations picture how totally and completely God is willing to forgive and forget the sins of His children – if and when we sincerely confess and repent.  Yes. When God decides to forgive and forget our sins they are completely gone out of His perfect memory.

But, unlike us with our tape recorders and computers, He didn’t lose them because of some mistake.  He purposely, voluntarily forced them out of His memory.  He erased them on purpose!

Can He do that?  Yes, He can!  He says that He can; so He can!

Leave it Behind!

To a certain degree, we are to emulate God in His forgetting of our sins.  If any of us have sincerely confessed a sin before God and repented of it, we shouldn’t keep dragging it back up and beating ourselves up over it.  When God has forgiven and forgotten it, so should we. 

But!... I say this with a certain qualification, which we will come to presently.

As mentioned earlier, one of the lessons of the Last Day of Unleavened Bread is that we must come out of sin completely. 

We believe that the ancient Israelites may have marched through the Red Sea on this very Feast day. 

When they were faced with this vast barrier of salt water and, even after God had miraculously taken them through that huge obstacle, every time they faced other difficulties, what did they do?  Did they go in faith before their great God?  After all, had they not seen the working of His mighty hand over and over again?  Did they humbly plead with Him for the help they needed?

No. They did not!  The response of so many of them to every trial and difficulty was a vocal, burning desire to go back to Egypt.  Our all-knowing God knew this Israelite proclivity and foresaw what they would try to do:

Exodus 13:17:
And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.”

We see here that God knew in advance of the tests He planned to put them through that they would react this way.  And the Israelites, of course, met His expectations:

Exodus 14:
11:  And they said unto Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness?  Wherefore
{why} have you dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?
12:  Is not this the word that we did tell you in Egypt, saying, “Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians?  For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.”

And yet again:  

Exodus 16:3:
And the children of Israel said unto them
{to Moses and Aaron}, “Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for you have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

As slaves in Egypt, had they really enjoyed such a fine diet?  And did they really believe that Moses, Aaron and the LORD had taken the time and effort to bring them out of Egypt just to kill them in the wilderness?  It appears that their memories and their logic may have been perverted by their apparent hunger! 

After this, God decided to give them another test – this time, a trial of thirst.  The result? The same ludicrous accusations and incomprehensible desire to return to Egypt:

Exodus 17:3:
And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, “Wherefore
{why} is this that you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?

I have often wondered about the mention of the Israelites' livestock in this and other similar verses.  If they owned cattle, sheep and goats, could they really have suffered from the level of hunger they complained of in other passages, such as this one:

Numbers 11:
4:  And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, “Who shall give us flesh to eat?
5:  We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic:
6:  But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes”…

Yet another example of those perverted Israelite memories!  Notice, as well, how they despised the miraculous manna, as well as the God who sent it and whom it symbolized (Deuteronomy 8:3; John 6:31-35).

Continuing in Numbers 11… the LORD speaking to Moses here:

Verse 18:  “And say you unto the people, ‘Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow, and you shall eat flesh: for you have wept in the ears of the LORD, saying, “Who shall give us flesh to eat?  For it was well with us in Egypt.”  Therefore, the LORD will give you flesh, and you shall eat.
19:  You shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days;
20:  But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that you have despised the LORD which is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, “Why came we forth out of Egypt?”’

Again, we see how the ungrateful Israelites proved to God how much they despised Him… to the point where, at the Wilderness of Paran – just on the verge of going in to conquer Canaan – they “chickened out” and were even ready – not just to talk about moving back to Egypt; but were actually ready take that rebellious action:

Numbers 14:
1:  And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.
2:  And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, “Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt!  Or would God we had died in this wilderness!
3:  And wherefore
{why} has the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey?  Were it not better for us to return into Egypt?”
4:  And they said one to another, “Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.”

Our short-sighted, logic-challenged forebears rejected their true Captain (Hebrews 2:10) and sought another who would lead them back to Egypt, to slavery and to probable death!

Numbers 20:
1:  Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there.
2:  And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.
3:  And the people chode with
{blamed; rebuked} Moses, and spoke, saying, “Would God that we had died when our brethren {Korah and his fellow rebels} died before the LORD!
4:  And why have you brought up the congregation of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there?
5:  And wherefore
{why} have you made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place?  It is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink.”

This “evil place” as the Israelites so foolishly and inaccurately described it was Kadesh-Barnea, which means “the Holy Place in the Desert” – the very opposite of Egypt which symbolizes the very opposite of holiness – i.e. sin!

Why was Kadesh-Barnea considered to be a holy place?  Because, through the power of the LORD God, it was the gathering place – the jumping-off point – for the Israelites' final, God-given entry into – and conquest of – the Promised Land. 

But because of their faithless attitudes, God turned this generation of Israelites back from completion of that goal – sentencing them to a forty-year forced march in the wilderness.

Is it not ironic, seeing that they desired Egypt so much, that, for the first stage of that march, God actually sent them back from Kadesh in that general direction – back towards Egypt?... 

Numbers 21:
4:  And they journeyed from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way…

Of course, to maintain His own good name, the LORD did not allow them to get all the way to Egypt; but caused them to wander in the wilderness for forty long years.

Did they accept their just punishment with repentant hearts?  Not on your Nelly!  They continued to yearn for Egypt!...

Verse 5:  And the people spoke against God, and against Moses, “Wherefore {why} have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?  For there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loathes this light bread.”

What depths of folly could these people sink to?  Did they not realize that it was their own murmuring that had caused them to remain in the wilderness?  And how could they so openly loathe the wonderful manna which God miraculously sent them each day – this “bread” that represented the LORD/YHVH Himself – the future Messiah?

Shortly before the LORD finally allowed them to go into the Promised Land, He reminded them of the former ludicrous accusations of their parents who were all dead by this time:

Deuteronomy 1:27:
And you
{your parents} murmured in your tents, and said, “Because the LORD hated us, He has brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.” 

The all-knowing LORD knew that the faithless Israelites would eventually demand a human king; but He reserved the right to set limits on their kings – including this stern warning: 

Deuteronomy 17:
15:  You shall in any wise set him king over you, whom the LORD your God shall choose: one from among your brethren shall you set king over you: you may not set a stranger over you, which is not your brother.
16:  But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD has said unto you, “You shall henceforth return no more that way.”

Even after their time of wandering was over, when they were settled in their new land, God, looking hundreds of years into the future to the time of the Israelites’ first human king, knew that that there would still be a strong inclination amongst the Israelites to want to go back to Egypt!  Like a huge electro-magnet, Egypt held such a very strong attraction to them.  Just as sin is to all humanity – not excluding the people of New Covenant Israel!

Those fickle Old Covenant Israelites expressed their desire over and over again to go back to their previous miserable lives of slavery.  As we have seen in these scriptures, both their memories and their logic were very faulty.  Their thinking – or lack of it – was similar to that of certain young girls of our modern era (e.g. Patty Hearst) who, after having been kidnapped, defend, support and say kind things about their former abusers.

It has been said before that God had no trouble getting the Israelites out of Egypt; but that He did have major trouble getting Egypt out of the Israelites! 

God wanted them to forget Egypt which, as we well know, symbolizes sin.  He wanted them to put Egypt completely behind them. 

In the same way, He wants His New Covenant children – the present-day Israel of God (Galatians 6:16) – to put our sins behind us – completely!  

But the Israelites insisted on remembering their lives in Egypt.  Or, rather, they remembered their own twisted, inaccurate versions of them.  They just would not let those perverted memories go!

Are we not the same as our Israelite forefathers in some respects? 

When we confess and repent, God is very desirous to forgive our sins and to completely forget them.  He forgets them and puts them completely in the past.  

But we keep dredging them up!  We might do this in two different ways:

First, we might recall the sin; perhaps allowing ourselves to be re-tempted; perhaps to like the idea of that particular sin again, and then perhaps even to foolishly re-commit it. 

Secondly, we might keep dragging up the memory of the sin, and keep beating ourselves up over it again and again; just as though our guilt still remained; and just as though God had not forgiven and forgotten it as He promised.

Preventative Remembering

All the things we have discussed so far do not mean that we can take lightly the seriousness of our sins – nor the greatness of God’s mercy.  We must beware of throwing the baby out with the bath-water! 

In this regard then, it is healthy for us to keep a basic memory of our former sins – but in the backs of our minds.

Many will remember the 1970 movie, “Love Story,” a tear-jerker of a film, unfortunately and unnecessarily laced with bad language.  Its famous sub-title which has survived these forty-seven years surprisingly well proclaims that, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” 

Although this sounds very nice and is so very poetically romantic, this saying is absolute, anti-God rubbish! 

Love and law go hand in hand. 

Every time God’s law is broken, a sin is committed and a penalty becomes necessary.  And in order to have that sin atoned for, it must be covered by Jesus’ blood.  And to set that process in motion, sincere remorse, confession and repentance become necessary.  True, sincere repentance is the key. 

But true, sincere repentance is more than just saying “I’m sorry.”  Being sorry is only one small part of the repentance process.  It is only the first necessary step.  

True and total repentance is a complete turning around and walking 180 degrees away from sin.  It is actively, purposefully, continuously walking in the opposite direction, just like the Israelites walking through the Red Sea and away from Egypt. 

No.  Not walking.  Running!  Running to get as far away as possible and as quickly as possible from that wretched Egypt of sin. 

Allow me to refer to just one more movie.  In Cecil B. De Mille’s 1956 epic, “The Ten Commandments,” there is a somewhat humorous scene as the Israelites are shown near the completion of their walk through the Red Sea, with the huge walls of water still towering on each side of them.  As they approach the distant shore, we are caused to focus on one woman who turns around to look back at where they had come from; and she sees that the whole Egyptian army has pursued the Israelites into dry bed of the Red Sea.  This woman does what we would all probably do, I am sure.  She screams, “Aaarrrgghh!” and she immediately stops walking, and starts running.  Running for her life!  In running from the Egyptians, this fictitious Israelite woman did not do anything wrong.  On the contrary, she did what was right.  Once she recognized the grave danger, she immediately took corrective action. 

We must do the same!  We must recognize the even more deadly danger of spiritual Egypt – and of its wicked leader.  We must not just walk away from them.  We must run! 

Also like young Joseph, when he “fled and ran” from the advances of Potiphar’s adulterous wife, we too must flee and run (Genesis 39:7-12; I Corinthians 6:18).  We too must run as fast as we possibly can – yes, from adultery and from all types of sin.

Emulate God!

As God is so very willing and eager to forgive and forget our sins when we repent; in the same way and under the same conditions, we too should emulate His great mercy by forgiving and forgetting the sins of our fellows against us. 

Actually, their sins against us are not primarily against us, are they?  Although we might be affected – seriously in some cases – sin is the transgression of God’s law, not ours!

Before the Passover, we were commanded to examine ourselves.  Self-examination is just that… self-examination!  That is such an obvious statement; but it is one that we should think carefully about.  Self-examination is not the examination or accusation of others. 

Although Jesus did give clear instructions of how His brothers and sisters are to deal with any sins that are committed against us (Matthew 18:15-17), still we must beware of making a practice of pointing our fingers of judgment against others.  Allow me to repeat the old, well-worn illustration that whenever a person points his finger of judgment at others, there are three other fingers pointing right back at him!  Also, if we self-righteously point the finger of accusation at our brethren, then we are not imitating our just and merciful God.  Instead, we are emulating Satan, who is the accuser of our brethren (Revelation 12:10).  Rather, let us heed this instruction from the One who was even willing to die for the sins of all of us:

Matthew 6:
12:  And forgive us our debts
{Greek 'opheilema'} as we forgive our debtors {'opheiletes' which can also mean 'sinners'}
Verse 14:  For if you forgive men their trespasses
{N.B. different English and Greek word 'paraptoma' which can also mean 'offence, sin, fall and fault'}, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15:  But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Not easy

But let’s face it; it is not always so very easy to forgive and forget the sins of a person who has done wrong or harm to us, is it?  Especially if that person has done it repeatedly.  And even more especially if the person is obviously unremorseful.  

In cases like this, for the sake of his (or her) self-preservation, the sufferer who is on the receiving end of a sin must not be passive.  He (or she) must take some common-sense, practical, corrective action.  And again, Jesus gave clear instructions of what this action should be – and exactly how His brothers and sisters are to deal with any sins that might be committed against us (Matthew 18:15-17).  

Depending on the specific case, this corrective action might have to be quite severe.  For example, what if a man had a wife like the one Potiphar had?  Now, we cannot know this for sure; but I would think there is a strong probability that young Joseph was likely not the first handsome, young underling Mrs. Potiphar had tried take immoral advantage of.

In a case like that one, imagine how difficult it would be for a man to forgive the repeated sins of an unrepentant wife like her.  And how could he forget those sins?  Even more so in our day and age with over thirty sexually transmissible diseases to be concerned about!  If he did not wish to divorce her, he would need to be always alert, keeping his eye on her constantly to make sure that she was never alone with any handsome young men.

Did God forget David’s sins?

Someone may ask, “OK.  Yes But what about David?  If God has forgotten his sins, why are they recorded forever in the scriptures?”

This is a very good question.  Does this mean that there are some scriptures which contradict each other?  Not at all.  Let us review the scriptures in question.  First of all, David’s pleas for God to forgive and forget his sins:

Psalms 25:7:
Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to your mercy remember you me for your goodness’ sake, O LORD.

Psalms 51:
1:  Have mercy upon me, O God, according to your loving-kindness: according unto the multitude of your tender mercies blot out my transgressions…
Verse 9:  Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

Would David even have wasted his time asking this favour of God, if what he asked were not possible? 

Asaph, another Psalmist, asks the same blessing, but upon on all Israel:

Psalms 79:8:
O remember not against us former iniquities: let your tender mercies speedily prevent
{come to meet} us: for we are brought very low.

David asks the converse on the wicked and deceitful enemies of God and His people:

Psalms 109:
2:  For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue…
Verse 4:  For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer…
Verse 14:  Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the LORD; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.

So what is the answer? 

God certainly does promise to forget all the sins of His faithful people; and yet David’s sins – and those of Paul, Abraham, Lot, Noah, Moses and many others – remain recorded in His holy written Word for every generation of mankind to read about. 

I believe that the answer is this:

For the majority of His people, God forgives and forgets our sins immediately upon our repentance.  But for now and for the positive purpose of good, powerful examples to His people, God has left some of the sins of David, Paul, etc. recorded in His Word.

But He will forget their sins at some future time – probably after their lessons have been fully learnt and are no longer necessary for mankind.  That time might be at the time of the end of the Great White Throne Judgment period when all sin has finally been purged from the earth and God the Father comes to dwell with His children:

Isaiah 65:17:
For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

It is my own conjecture that, at that time, God will cause Himself and all others to forget these things.  

Does God really have this kind of power?

Yes, He does!  It is logical that, if God really does have the power to force Himself to forget our sins, then it should be no problem for Him to oblige His children to do so.  God has ultimate, total power over our minds, memories, recognition and understanding.  This stupendous power is illustrated in the episode of the two disciples walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus:

Luke 24:
13:  And, behold, two of them
{disciples} went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
14:  And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
15:  And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them.
16:  But their eyes
{sight} were holden {restricted} that they should not know Him…
Verse 28:  And they drew nigh unto the village, where they went: and He made as though He would have gone further.
29:  But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.”  And He went in to tarry with them.
30:  And it came to pass, as He sat at meat with them, He took bread
{unleavened, of course}, and blessed it, and broke, and gave to them.
31:  And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and He vanished out of their sight.

First, their visual senses were restrained so that they did not know Him.  Later, their visual senses were unleashed so that they knew Him. 

Who was it that restrained then opened their eyes?  Who else but God Himself?

So, again: Did God forget David’s sins?  The probable answer is “No, not yet.”  But He did forgive them and He will totally forget them… in the future.

In Summary

So now, in conclusion, let me repeat the lessons to be learned from our comparison of “The Scarlet Letter” novel to the teaching of God’s Word about the Last Day of Unleavened Bread:
- God is our Judge; not men,

- We must examine ourselves, and we must do so continually,

- We must look at our own sins, and resist judging others,

- In God’s eyes, there are no small sins,

- Every sin is responsible for the death of our Saviour,

- If we will sincerely repent, God will totally forgive and forget our sins,

- God will not shame us or expose our repented-of sins at Christ’s return,

- We too must put our own sins behind us,

- We must forgive and forget any wrongs others have done us… if and when we see fruits of repentance.

As we leave the Feast of Unleavened Bread behind us and as we venture out into a new year of God’s sacred calendar, we can be encouraged by His boundless love, compassion and mercy.

But in addition, let every one of us, on an ongoing basis, apply to ourselves our Saviour’s loving dismissal and admonition: 

“Go, and sin no more.”