God’s ancient people Israel suffered much at the hands of wicked men. Too often it was because they weren’t acting like they were God’s people. They were stiff-necked people who always went after other gods and neglected the true God. So God would send a scourge. His goal was not to punish them. His goal was to call them back. They were to learn to turn to Him in every trouble and trust and believe in Him.
So He waited 120 years to send The Flood. He waited to send the northern tribes into Assyria. He waited to send Judah into Babylon, and only left them there 70 years. He was chastising them. He was teaching them that it is better to trust in Him than to trust in mortal men who cannot save or demons who only damn.
What was their problem? Unbelief. They didn’t trust Him. They decided they better go after other gods if they were going to be protected from their enemies. They married people God told them not to marry, precisely because He knew they might turn them against Him. They did this even though He had freed them from Egypt, led them through the Red Sea, Sinai, and across the Jordan River, and given them the Promised Land and defended them against the Philistines and Assyrians, no thanks to them, all thanks to Him.
The root of their problem is the same thing that’s wrong with us: sin. The Liturgy teaches us to confess that we are poor, miserable sinners worthy of nothing but God’s wrath and displeasure. Sin causes people to neglect God and go after other gods. It causes us to let others become more important to us than God is.
Then God’s Word says to us: “Repent! And believe the Gospel.” Though you deserve to be punished for your sins with all the ungodly, God wants you to be part of His remnant. He has made this remnant. He has shaped it through The Blood of The Lamb. This Blood cleanses us from all sin. This Blood leads us to trust Him and worship Him. It leads us to fear Him and glorify Him and worship Him Who made all things.
Why? Because the hour of God’s judgment came when He declared Himself guilty of all sin on The Cross. He therefore declares you not guilty. He declares you who believe in Him, Who have been baptized into His holy Name, His people, and He forgives all your sins. He promises to lead you to eternal glories. For He has declared you righteous, not by works you have done, but by The Blood of Jesus Christ.