When you see or hear this phrase I'm sure many of us automatically think of the statement in the Psalms.
Psalm 103 as a matter of fact.
Or maybe we think of the song by Casting Crowns.
Or maybe we think of a compass.
Or maybe we think of trying to measure that distance... good luck by the way.
Or maybe we think of........................................... Genesis.
Genesis, particularly one story in Genesis. The story of Cain and Abel.
Adam and Eve had two sons... Cain and then Abel.
Needless to say this very first family... was very dysfunctional.
We know the story.
Cain kills Abel out of jealousy, because God favors Abel's sacrifices more than Cain's.
As a result Cain leaves with his wife.
God tells Him to go.
Cain goes East. He lives East of Eden. East of Paradise.
Genesis 3:24 states that after God had made Adam and Eve leave the Garden, "...He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
They were guarding the east exit.
Not allowing anyone to come back in.
Adam and Eve settled east of the garden.
Cain settled even more east.
He built a city.
He settled east.
Genesis 11:2 states, "As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there"
People are STILL moving east... away from where they ought to be.
Away from where God began this whole journey called creation.
Yes creation is a journey.
A journey of reconciling what we broke all back to perfection... through Christ.
And what happens when we continue moving eastward?
We begin to go West.
God was beginning something when he told Abraham to leave his country... to move westward... back to where God had first intentioned.
And he had Isaac.
And Isaac had Jacob.
And Jacob had... lots of children. Including Joseph... you know that whole Egypt escapade.
How did it happen?
His brothers sold him westward.
Eastward... Westward... Eastward... Westward...
Do we begin to see this cycle... this journey?
We are always missing the mark... going past... going beyond...
It's like sending astronauts into Space.
The journey up isn't as hard as the journey back.
There is a window that the spacecraft has to hit... they can't enter the Earth's atmosphere to shallow... or they'll miss the mark... skip off.
They can't enter too deep of an angle... there will be too much friction and they'll burn up.
We skip off all the time.
We burn up all the time.
Which brings us to Egypt.
Leading God's people back.
Back to what God was doing.
Back to the promised land.
But what happened?
And they were sent too far east again.
All this begs the question? Do we still do this?
Jesus came to settle this. To stop this east and west process.
He came so we could come to one place... the cross.
And at this place there would be something so captivating that we could not miss it.
Just as God blocked the tree of life from the east entrance.
God is showing us a new tree of life... a tree in which a bloody man hangs... a tree that has tasted, seen, engulfed death.
And through the sacrifice upon it... we have life.
Which brings us back to Psalm 103.
Verse 11: "As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us."
As many times as we miss the mark. As many times as we go east... As many times as we go west... He has removed our transgressions from us.
It's not about distance.
It's about total forgiveness.
It's about forgiving... removing. As many times as necessary.
Welcome to the story of Scripture, the story of God, and the story of us.
Christ's Kingdom is bigger than our causes.