In the Old Testament, God's people forsook him again and again, yet each
time he restored them and blessed them incredibly. The Lord had every
right to give up on Israel, but he remained ever faithful to them.
Nehemiah sums up this wonderful truth about God's nature:
"After they had rest, they again did evil before You. . . . Yet when they
returned and cried out to You, You heard from heaven; and many times You
delivered them according to Your mercies. . . . Nevertheless in Your great
mercy You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them; for You are God,
gracious and merciful" (Nehemiah 9:28, 31).
The prophet Isaiah knew this aspect of God's nature. Like Moses before
him, Isaiah preached about God's judgment against sin. He spoke of dark
days of despair to come upon those living in continual rebellion. Yet amid
one of his most direct messages, Isaiah stopped to make this statement:
"I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord and the praises of the
Lord, according to all that the Lord has bestowed on us, and the great
goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has bestowed on them
according to His mercies, according to the multitude of His
lovingkindnesses" (Isaiah 63:7).
Everywhere Isaiah turned he saw backsliding and apostasy in Israel. Yet,
despite this, Isaiah looked into his heart and recalled a revelation of
what God was truly like. And he began praising God for his faithfulness:
"Oh, Lord, we have rebelled against you and turned from your Holy Spirit.
Save us again by your great mercy. Stir up your compassion toward us. You
are full of lovingkindness."
Later the prophet Joel gave dire warnings, but even as he prophesied about
massive earthquakes and the darkening of the sun and moon, he suddenly
began speaking of God's loving nature:
"Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to
anger, and of great kindness" (Joel 2:13).
Beloved, there are times when we need to remember this revelation of the
Lord's mercy for ourselves.
/I love you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3 GW)/
"I/ /have borne with you all this time because I love you; anything
could have happened to you, but I have not let it, I have shown you
infinite longsuffering and patience, and earnest solicitude for your
eternal well-being: because I love you, I have kept you alive, and
have brought you to this time and to this place; I have not let you
go." Oh, that this might come home to us! We may, all unconsciously,
be hearing this message now simply because of this infinite love of
God which has been preserving us unto this hour to let us know it. You
may think it is quite fortuitous that you are hearing it - just one of
the chance happenings of life; but if you knew the truth it is this
infinite love of God which has held you to this time in relation to
the infinite purposes of that love to let you know it.
nothing casual about it, there is sovereign love here. "Because I have
so loved, because, self-sufficient as I am, I cannot do without you" -
oh, mystery of Divine love! - "because I so much wanted you I created
you, and now at this moment I am drawing you." We cannot take that in,
but that is the teaching of the Word of God... God does not want that
kind of love that is not love at all because it gets everything that
it wants to satiate its own lusts. That is not love. This love of God
must make us like itself, it must be after its own kind. And so,
strangely enough, many have come to find the love of God through the
dark way of suffering - to discover that God was not their enemy but
their friend, when they thought that He was pursuing with the object
of destroying them....
Listen again, whoever you may be. If you know yourself only a little
you must be amazed at this statement, but if it does not come to you
as the most wonderful thing that ever was or could be, there is
something grievously the matter with you; that such a One should say
to such as /WE, "I have loved THEE, with an everlasting love." /May
God Himself bring that home to us with something of its implication,
something of its meaning and value, its glory, its wonder.
should graciously do that, we shall be worshipers for the rest of our
lives; there will be something about us that is in the nature of awe
and wonder and we shall go softly. The realization of it will smite
all our pride to the dust. There is no room for pride here. This will
remove all those horrible things - pride, avarice, covetousness,
self-interest, worldly ambition - and we shall be very humble, very
grateful people, full of a great longing somehow to requite that love,
somehow to win for that One His rights.
By T. Austin-Sparks from: "His Great Love" - Chapter 5