Sometimes it seems curious to me that so much of my OT reading can be so easily compared to my NT reading, but then it shouldn’t be. All of the Scriptures are God’s Word, and of course Jesus is God’s Word. As God’s Word it should seem natural that any part of it should relate to any other part of it. Part of God’s Word relates God’s will for man, but another part of God’s Word relates the different responses of man to God’s Word. The following verses recount the situations in Jerusalem as it was under the judgment of God at the hands of the Babylonians.
2nd Chronicles 36:15 The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place; 16 but they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words, and scoffing at his prophets, till the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, till there was no remedy. (RSV)
God’s will means first of all loving God and then loving your fellow man, whom God created. At the same time, how do we show a love for a Creator whom we haven’t seen if we can’t love His creation which we have seen? So in many ways, we show a love for God in loving others. If you love someone, you wish to be there for them, to be supportive of them. That does not mean that in loving others, you should expect them to love you in return, or sometimes even to care if you should feel a need for someone to love you and be there for you. Your love for someone doesn’t depend on their feelings for you, but upon your feelings for them. Yet God’s will is for all of His creation to love. This is the message that is spoken of above that God kept sending through His prophets, but the people didn’t heed His message so they fell to His wrath.
Studying the prophets should have seemed much clearer to the people of their time as they spoke in a (how do you say this) a ‘comparative, figurative, literal’ way. They communicated their life and feelings as they understood the movings of nature and the world around them. It is often seen in the prophets (and the Song of Songs) that God expected His creation to be to Him as a bride is to her husband. The prophets see that as man rebelled against God, God looked upon the human race (choosing the descendants of Abraham as His example) as a cast out, abandoned naked daughter. Our Creator seeks to lifts up that filthy woman, described as lying in her own filth, and cleanse her and dress her and care for her. (Remember, this filthy woman represents me, you, and all else. Think I’m making this up? Study the prophets.) The Song of Songs describes how a husband would desire the breasts and intimate relations of his bride. This would be a human understanding of a love in marriage that God wishes to have with His creation. Yet, as the descendants of Abraham, to be a witness and example to the rest of the world of God’s will for us, turned to other ‘gods’ and put their trust in other nations, etc. This is why the prophets described the people as whores and prostitutes turning from the love of their Creator to false lovers.
John 15:17 This I command you, to love one another. 18 "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. (RSV)
God calls people to recognize Him as the Creator and recognize His love for us, in spite of our rebellion against Him. He calls for us to return to Him and love Him with all our hearts and one another as ourselves. He loves us and accepts those who turn to Him and His love. But too many do not accept Him or His love. Many seek to find ways to explain our Creator out of the world, as though there is no Creator. Many who believe in a Creator have a view of Him as being against us, when it is really the great deceiver who is against us and lying to us about our Creator. For all the different views of different people, God seeks for us to turn to Him, and calls on those who turn to Him to learn love without expecting love to be returned to us. Why should we expect others to love us, as this world doesn’t even love Him, our Creator Redeemer? Loving doesn’t mean remembering that we need the love of others, but that we are to love others whether that love is returned or not, because our Creator loves, though many reject and rebel against His love.
This is what can be seen as a great burden to Christians. Can we stand and love, even though that love is not returned. If you are caring, supportive, and striving to be there for someone else, do you often wander what it would be like for someone to be caring, supportive, and striving to be there for you? This is where we must learn to rely on the faith in the One Who said that He would never leave us or forsake us; the One who said that He would be with us always, even to the end of the ages. When you strive to love and you don’t feel loved in return, then it can be very disheartening, discouraging, and sometimes you can feel very nearly destroyed. But we must ever hold before us the Words of our Creator that as we may be hated in this world, remember that it hated Him before us, but that He is always there if we turn to Him.
Do we expect someone to love us, to be caring and supportive of us, to be there for us? Have we strived to love, be caring and supportive of, and to be there for others? In any case, people by and large choose to love the filth and trash of this world more than their Creator, so we should expect that if we seek to follow in our Master’s footsteps, there will be more who love the filth and trash of this world than of those who will love us. This is why we know that the way is narrow that leads to eternal life, and few find it, but broad is the way that leads to destruction, and we see that so many in this world are going to destruction. The more you realize how little real love there is in this world, the more it should demonstrate the need for our Creator’s love.
The words of the prophets from long ago speak just as real to this world today. The peoples are like whores chasing after the filthy trash of this world, and rejecting the true love offered by the Creator. Are there those who ‘love’ to go to church and sit on the pews and hear the ‘beautiful words’ of the preachers and say ‘praise the Lord’ and then go out and forget their worship during the week thinking only of ‘how much I need to go somewhere and party to escape the stress of this world’ rather than thinking of ‘how I need to search God’s Word to see His love for me to help me to escape the stress of this world’? If you need to love the trash of this world and party with the filth of this world to escape the stress of this world, then you are like a prostitute chasing after the wrong love, rather than the love of your Creator. Do you know how it feels to love someone who chases after someone else? Then how does God feel when He sees you sitting on your church pews praising Him, then going out into the filth of this world thinking that is how to escape the stress of this world.
Do not the Scriptures teach that He is a jealous God? Have you never felt that you’ve loved either men or women, but in return for your love, you were treated as though you didn’t deserve to be loved in return? It doesn’t feel good does it? But do we ever really think how God feels when He loves us so much, and we turn to the trash of this world rather than returning love for Him and trusting that He is able to deliver us from the trash of this world? The words of the prophets from long ago spoke of our Creator seeing us as uncared for, naked, and in need, and He lifted us to care for us. Will we turn away from such great love as prostitutes who turn to many lovers? To show His people by an object lesson, God called one prophet (Hosea, I believe) to love and marry a prostitute to demonstrate how God takes His children in. Then the prostitute left him, and God told him to go and take her back.
Many in this world have never truly accepted our Savior’s love. Those who have accepted it have found a lover who will never leave you; even the depths of Hell cannot separate you from His love; and even when you feel He is nowhere to be found, He is with you always. A sheep may stray from his sheep pen, but our Great Shepherd is a guard and protector that will never lose one of His sheep, even if we feel we have fallen to the lowest depths.