Sunday, January 24, 2016

What God Never Imagined

I have been reading in the book of Jeremiah, and I have found it to be an incredible book.  I am overwhelmed by the clarity and distinction between God's justice and wrath, and His mercy and restoration.  The two exist side by side throughout this book.  Through His prophet, Jeremiah, God outlines the sin that is detestable before Him and the punishment that that will come because of it.  But then He also proclaims His love and the restoration that will follow for His people.

In one of the many passages that details the sins of the people of Israel and Judah--those offenses that have stirred up God's wrath--God charges His people with offense for the crime of sacrificing their children to Molech, a false god of the time.  But in this passage, God not only declares this sin abominable, but He states that it never entered His mind that they would do that.  That truly blows me away!  

God is omniscient.  He knows all things--past, present, and future.  God knows every thought in my mind and every motive of my heart.  He knows my coming and my going.  Every day of my life was written in His book before any one of them came to be (Psalm 139).  He knows ALL things, and yet, it never entered God's mind that this kind of evil would exist.  That breaks my heart as much as it blows my mind.  It breaks my heart because clearly it breaks His.  God  knew there would be sin; He knew there would be evil in this world, but He did not want to imagine that we would be capable of that--killing our own children. And yet, we are.  We were then, and we are still today. 

We continue to sacrifice the lives of our children, our sons and our daughters, to detestable idols. They may no longer go my the name of Molech, but they do exist.  Now those idols are called women's rights, the right to choose, convenience, or "my life," which is deemed more valuable than the life that is being sacrificed.  It's no different today than when children were laid on the altar of Molech.  Oh, I know that there are some, even many, who would say that these are two very different things that I am talking about.  They would argue that sacrificing and killing a child who has already been born is a far cry from choosing to end a pregnancy.  Because in their minds, that is what they are doing, or at least what they convince themselves to believe.  

Abortion is not about killing, taking a life, or God-forbid, sacrificing a child to an idol!  The unborn is not a life, yet...and so there is no child to be considered.  This is about a pregnancy--one that is unplanned, unwanted, inconvenient, conceived in undesirable circumstances, or even unhealthy.  And so the objective is to end the pregnancy, to become "unpregnant."  That's my right, isn't it?  It is my body that has unwillingly subjected to this state of pregnancy, so I have a right to do whatever is necessary to change these circumstances, fix the situation, and take care of my body and myself, right?  If I have an unexpected growth on my any part of my body, I would go to the doctor to have it removed with no objection from the morality policy.  So why is this different?

It is different, completely different, from simply removing a growth or ending a pregnancy.  It is different because despite the efforts of those arguing to justify abortion to make it seem like anything but taking the life of a child, it is exactly that.  What is removed during an abortion is not a cyst, a tumor, a clump of tissue or cells.  It is, in fact, a baby--a developing human being; it is a child.  And so, not just a pregnancy is ended.  The life of a human child is ended, sacrificed on the altar of "my body, my life."  Yes, it is the same sin as the one God calls detestable and says that it "never entered His mind" that it would be done.  We, too, are sacrificing our children to Molech, at the alarming rate of 1.2 million each year in this nation, and near 57 million in the past four decades.  And we continue to thumb our noses at God, declaring it "our right" in the name of "choice."  What is to become of us?  What of this nation?

At the time of my reading in Jeremiah, it was not going well for the Isrealites and the people of Judah.  Through the prophet, God was letting them know, unequivocally, that judgement was coming.  They were going to be captured and taken away, and their land was going to be destroyed.  They were a stiff-necked people.  God had warned them time and time again.  God had wooed them to turn their hearts back to Him.  But they continued to turn their faces and their hearts from God and boast in their sin.  Sadly, our nation has done the same thing, and so judgement will come again.  The Bible is clear about that--God's wrath and His judgement.  But it is also clear about His mercy and the promise of restoration.

In those same passages that outline the coming judgement, the tide and the promise of God does turn.  God does not remove the judgement, but He does promise to follow it with mercy.  That is the beauty and awesomeness of who God is!  He is holy, righteous and just, and because of that, sin cannot continue without judgement.  But, He loves us too much to just stop there and leave us in that condition.  Judgement for sin comes so that He can restore us to a right a relationship with Him.  Just  like an earthly father disciplines his child to teach him what is right and to restore the brokenness of disobedience, God does the same for us.  But He also does so much more. 

Not only did God punish the people of Israel in the Old Testament and then restore them to their land, their prosperity and their relationship with Him, where "He will be their God, and they will be His people," but in the New Testament, He does it again, but this time for eternity, once and for all, through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus took the punishment for all--all sin, all rebellion, for every child sacrificed to Molech--He bore our sin and suffered our judgment so that we could be restored to a right relationship with God, now and forever!  Praise God!  What an indescribable gift! 

You see, all the way back in Jeremiah, long before Christ accomplished His work on the cross, God makes His heart clear in chapter 32, verses 40 and 41.  After judgement, God expresses His desire and intent to restore.  He says, "I will make an everlasting covenant with them; I will never stop doing good to them...," and then a little further down, "I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul."  Did you hear that??  God's covenant with us through Christ is everlasting. Restoration is coming, and it will last forever! And then the part that moves my heart so deeply--that God rejoices in doing good to us.  It makes His heart happy to love and bless His children.  It brings Him joy!  I think that is incredible.

Then there is the last part where God says that He will restore His people--He will "plant them in this land" with all His heart and soul.  Have you ever said that to someone?  "I feel this or that with all my heart and soul"? or "I did it with all my heart and soul"?  I have.  We say that to communicate that everything in us is in that something--what we think, do or feel.  Well, that is what God is saying to us in His word.  His heart and soul are in restoring us, and it brings Him joy to do us good--not our joy, but His!  

I am overwhelmed by this.  God's love is so amazing, and it is available to us all.  No matter how unimaginable our sin may be, God's mercy covers it.  When we turn our hearts to Him, He turns His heart to us.  He may never have imagined our sin, but we can never imagine His grace.  Praise be to God.