If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me — I also was acting with hostility against them, to bring them into the land of their enemies — or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land.
In the 26th chapter of Leviticus, God takes time to remind the Israelites of the benefits of obedience (vv 1-12) and the costs of disobedience (vv 13-39) and cap the section off with a reminder of the importance of confession.
The benefit of confession is stated as a conditional: If they confess their iniquity … then I will remember My covenant. God entered into a covenant; an agreement; a contract with the men listed — Jacob and Isaac and Abraham. Thing is, those men did not have The Law. Those men entered into an agreement of trusting in God.
Abraham was told to look up at the stars and what he saw in the heavens prompted him to believe. Later in his life, he would take his son up to a mountainside in obedience to God and tell Isaac that God would provide Himself an offering. Somewhere along the line, Isaac believed, too. Jacob had a vision and wrestled with a messenger of God and, somewhere in the midst of these things, Jacob believed.
According to the concordance, the word that is translated confess comes from a root that means “to use (hold out) the hands.” The image I get from such a root is that I do not hide my wrongs or clutch them close to me, but put them out away from me where God can see them and take them away. The word rendered iniquity indicates any perversity; any place in me where the straight has been made crooked. I am to present my crookedness openly to God and He will make it straight again.
There is another if mentioned that is a step beyond confession. In verse 41, God mentions the heart becoming humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity. Sometimes, the best that I can do is to confess my wrongs; to hold out all my crookedness openly to God. Other times, I can do something to make the situation right. If I have stolen from someone, then it is possible that I might be able to pay it back. If I have lied to someone, then I may be able to speak truth and set the record straight. Sometimes, I can make amends for the wrongs that I have done. But not always.
The application is straightforward. I need to confess my wrongs to God and make amends wherever possible. The benefit of this is that God follows through on the promises He has made, because many of His promises are predicated on my obedience, which includes confession.
Thank You, Father, that confession is such a simple thing. There are no fancy hoops to jump through or rituals to observe, just me holding out my crookedness to You and asking You to make it straight again.