“and I will cut him off from among My people. So you will know that I am YHWH.” Ezekiel 14:8
Cut Off – The Hebrew phrase that describes acknowledging my sin as the first step in repentance is ha-karat ha-chet. Literally, this is “the sin that cuts off.” These words tell us that unless and until a man realizes that God cuts off relationship over sin, that man will never have the motivation or the discipline to repent. Doesn’t that seem obvious? It should, but for some reason we have entertain a theological seduction that teaches us that God overlooks our sins because He is so filled with grace and forgiveness. We really don’t believe sin is such a serious issue, especially after we have been “saved.” We think that Yeshua covered it all, and now all we need to do is try as best we can while grace smoothes over the rough spots.
Let’s look at Ezekiel again. “Anyone of the house of Israel . . who separates himself from Me, sets up idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling blocks of his iniquity, and then comes to . . inquire of Me . . . I will cut him off.” Wait! This verse is for us, not those poor wretched pagans. We are the house of Israel. Have we set up idols in our hearts? Forget the usual stuff – power, fame and fortune. How about the day of the week? Have we made an idol (something that opposes and deposes God) of a particular day – a day God didn’t endorse? How about honor? Do we honor parents? Do we truly believe that those who have walked longer with God have something important to teach us? Or are we the Disney generation where only children are able to save the world? Have we made idols of the schedule, the day-timer? Is shopping more important than being or television the solution to relationship struggles?
And what about the iniquity shoved in God’s face? Are we immune to the Spirit’s prompting because we have established a pattern of disobedience and expect God to understand? Are we caught in a repeated sinful pattern that we can’t break because we really don’t want to? Have we rationalized our actions, transforming us from perpetrators to victims? Do we play the blame game? Are we stumbling over the same blocks because we refuse to move them out of the way?
God says He will cut that man off from His people. This is the same word used to establish a covenant. It’s about as serious as you can get. If blood is shed to cut the covenant, blood will be shed to remove someone from the covenant. Why would God do such a terrible thing? He tells us. “So you will know that I am YHWH.” Sometimes we don’t know God until we see that He will not be compromised, diminished or toyed with. God says He will set His face against such a man. Go ask Cain what that means. It is living hell – to be alive without God is to starve the soul to death. It’s wandering without home or direction.
We will not repent until we confront the hideousness of our sins. Sometimes God is gracious and He does not allow us to see the full scope of our iniquity. Sometimes He isn’t quite so gentle. Sometimes it takes blood before we can truly say, “My sin is every before me” (Psalm 51:3).
I don’t want to be cut off. But I know that I throw stumbling blocks before the Lord and call them excuses. I know immediately when I am playing the game. I do all that I can to avoid acknowledging my sin. But that behavior is a fool’s errand. Without ha-karat ha-chet I am in terrible danger. God asks me to return to Him. The first step is admitting that I left.
Topical Index: ha-karat ha-chet, acknowledge, sin, cut off, Ezekiel 14:8, Psalm 51:3