"I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord," and You forgave the iniquity of my sin." Psalm 32:5

Five-hundred-and-nine million dollars is a lot of dollars.

That's the amount of gold experts estimate is illegally being mined each year in South Africa. Lured by the opportunity of making it rich and keeping everything which is found has proven to be a mighty big temptation for many of the uneducated laborers of that country.

Of course, there are certain risks to illegal mining. For example, what happens if something goes wrong, and you find yourself trapped underground?

That is exactly what happened to a few hundred miners who were stealing from a mine near Johannesburg, South Africa. Realizing their situation, the miners called for help and a few of them were rescued. They were rescued, and then they were arrested.

When the remaining miners found out what had happened to their comrades in crime, they broke off communication with their rescuers. That means they have placed themselves in an untenable situation. Sooner or later these guys are going to have to give in and go topside. Sooner or later they must come out, be arrested, and face some sort of punishment.

The miners must be brought out, or they must be willing to let that mine become their cemetery.

There are no other options for those miners -- just like there are no other options for sinners.

You see, like those miners, humanity concluded we could do much better for ourselves by operating alone. Like those miners, we rejected the Lord's claims on us and, having decided we would be in complete control of our lives, we moved forward. It would have been a great plan if we had been able to pull it off.

May I tell you that in the history of humankind nobody has ever been able to pull it off? Sooner or later our sins will trap us. At that moment there are two directions we can go. We can either decide to stay where we are and die or we can let the Lord save us. Yes, there are many similarities between those miners and the sinners of the world.

Many similarities and one, big difference.

That difference is this: those saved South African miners will be arrested and punished for their sins, but we who repent and are saved by God's grace will find no such penalty awaits us. That's not because there is no penalty, but because that penalty has already been taken care of by our Savior.

Unbelievable! Can you imagine the son of a South African mine owner taking the punishment for these men who had been stealing from his father? Of course not! Still, that is what God's Son has done for us. He has carried our sins and died our death. Now, because of what Jesus has done, our rescue is made without any penalty to us.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, I give thanks You have done the unthinkable: You have carried my punishment so I might be forgiven, free and saved. Now I pray for all those who are still captured by sin and living in the dark. Send Your Holy Spirit so they may be brought up and into Your Light. In Your Name. Amen.

Pastor Ken Klaus

Lutheran Hour Ministries All rights reserved; not to be duplicated without permission.

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