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My Prophet Hat: Stumble Under the Load of Guilt

This series of articles is taken from one book of prophecy named Hosea after its author.

Have you seen the videos where some Asian woman who could not weigh more than 110 lbs. has two eight ft logs, at least 30 inches in circumference strapped to her back? She carries this huge weight up and down hills. Once she stumbled and was pinned under the logs and could not get up, until a friend arrived. I thought the friend would carry one of the logs. This is not what happened. She helped her friend up with the logs still on her back.

Hosea says, “The arrogance of Israel testifies against her; she will stumble under her load of guilt. Judah too, will fall with her.” (Hosea 5:5) The picture is perfect. Guilt weighs one down and causes them to stumble. There is nothing as heavy as unresolved guilt. Guilt’s brother is condemnation and guilt’s sister is doom. The verdict is in. The foreman reads the decision. GUILTY as charged! Usually, the defendant’s head bows low, and the tears begin to flow. The weight is being put on their shoulders. Guilt is there long before the realization of guilt is there. It often hits you later when reality sets in. We scream out “What have I done?” Jesus said, “Their judgment is based on this fact: The light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.” (John 3:19) This guilt-filled verse is only three verses later than John 3:16.

I have three illustrations of the weight of guilt. The first is King David who committed adultery and murdered Bathsheba’s husband Uriah the Hittite. The story is found in 2 Samuel 11-12. The load of guilt did not settle on David’s shoulders until the prophet Nathan told him the story of the lamb. “There were two men in a certain town. One was rich and one was poor. The rich man owned many sheep and cattle. The poor man owned nothing but a little lamb he had worked hard to buy. He raised that little lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man’s own plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter. One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing a lamb from his own flocks for food, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it and served it to his guest.” (2 Samuel 12:1-4) David was livid. He was ready to kill this rich man, until Nathan said, “You are that man!” (12:7) Guilt hit David like a ton of bricks.

The second story is found in Luke 15. We called it the Prodigal Son. The younger son wants his inheritance which is given to him by the father. He goes and spends it all in riotous living and ends up in the pig pen, starving to death. His guilt is all over him. This is when he decides to humble himself before his father. The third story is from a movie called The Mission, a 1986 film about an 18th century Jesuit priest in South America, starring Jeremy Irons and Robert De Niro. De Niro’s character Rodrigo Mendoza, a reformed slave trader, confesses sin and is assigned penance in the form of a net filled with all manner of heavy burdens to be carried until he reaches his mission point far into the jungle. To get to his destination, he must climb a cliff with the netted burden on his back. The scene of the struggle he endures is excruciating to watch. The weight of guilt is vivid and unforgettable.

What do you carry? What is your burden of guilt? What unrepentant or unforgiven sin do you lug around with you? After your you-are-the-man moment, where do you find relief? Jesus calls out amid your pain and struggle with sin: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) We were only meant to carry our guilt so far. When we arrive at the foot of the cross, we are to lay it down and leave it there.

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