Friday, September 13, 2019

God is Our God and We are His People

My time with God began with the encouraging affirmation that God is the most love-based person we know since God IS love.[1] It can’t get better than that. However, our enjoyment of God certainly can stand for some improvement!

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.[2]

As I looked at this verse again, it stood out to me how continuous it is. God has loved us, but with a love that is everlasting. He has continued his faithfulness, but his faithfulness is everlasting because the love from which it flows is everlasting. I hope we can see how terrible it is that Satan can convince us that God doesn’t love us. The wounds need healing, and as soon as possible!

Then it became clear that God is not faithful in loving us because he made a covenant with us, but he is faithful to his covenants because of his everlasting love towards his people.

What we see in all the prophets is a God who keeps pursuing his adulterous and idolatrous people because he has loved them with an everlasting love and so continues his faithfulness to them. However, in that faithfulness he can’t bless them contrary to the covenants. In his faithfulness he must win them back in order to bless them as much as his love desires to do so!

As I read Jeremiah 30 for context, this phrase stood out: “And you shall be my people, and I will be your God.”[3] I realized that this is a repeated phrase throughout Scripture, but I have never added it up to see how often God expressed it. Suffice it to say that it spoke to me wonderfully when I looked this up:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. 
He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, 
and God himself will be with them as their God. 
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, 
and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, 
for the former things have passed away.”[4]

In the early chapters of Exodus, God assures Moses, “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”[5] Moses had already gone to Pharaoh, Pharaoh responded by doubling the oppressive slavery, the people were despondent, and God assures Moses that he will not only deliver them, but in an intimate love-relationship that is the very reason he created human beings in the first place.

From this point, all the way through both covenants, the golden thread of fellowship between God and his people continues, but always with God telling his people how he will overcome everything wrong with them in order to have them back. The expressions in Revelation simply show that the new heavens and the new earth will be the perfection of this relationship where our heavenly Father personally wipes away the tears and grief of “the former things”.

In exploring these things, I only got as far as the book of Leviticus where I was thoroughly surprised by the message of conviction and hope. First it was the golden theme of, “And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.”[6] This is what God promised his people if they would walk in the requirements of their covenant with him. They would have the personal relationship with God that is revealed all throughout the Bible.

What about when his people broke the covenant? That would make it null and void, which would mean God was free to walk away, flood the earth, start over if he felt like it, or just cast everyone into the lake of fire that was made for the devil and his angels.

However, what we see God doing is pursuing his people in discipline in order to get them back. This is what is so phenomenal, that God’s love for his people makes him pursue them. In fact, that is the second “reality” Henry Blackaby teaches in the Experiencing God course (the first is that God is always at work around us), that, “God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.”[7] Even after first hearing that thought back in 1992, God still ministers this truth deeper into my heart every day, that HE pursues ME, and all so that I can be among his people, and he can be our God in the most real and personal of ways.

With that aside, I was deeply convicted by God’s description of how he would relate to his people if they turned away from their covenant with him. Look at the repeated message to his people:

  • “And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins,
  • “Then if you walk contrary to me and will not listen to me, I will continue striking you, sevenfold for your sins.
  • “And if by this discipline you are not turned to me but walk contrary to me, then I also will walk contrary to you, and I myself will strike you sevenfold for your sins.
  • “But if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to me, then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins.”[8]

The question is, why would God bother?!

The answer is:

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.[9]
Which is why we end up here:

Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them, for I am the LORD their God.[10]

Once we get this, that God continues his faithfulness to his covenant because he has loved his people with an everlasting love, we find the safety to address all our sins, all our disobedience, all our unbelief in his love, all the lies we have believed about him not loving us, and take hold of the wonders of his love in genuine repentance and faith.

What God told his people there in Leviticus was this:

“But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.[11]

What God tells us people under the new covenant is this:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.[12]

Why does God continue in his faithfulness to his people? Because God is love, and he has loved his people with an everlasting love.[13]
The only question is, are you his child.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.[14]

© 2019 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] I John 4:8
[2] Jeremiah 31:3
[3] Jeremiah 30:22
[4] Revelation 21:3-4
[5] Exodus 6:7
[6] Leviticus 26:12
[7] The “Seven Realities of Experiencing God” are taught in a resource by Henry Blackaby entitle, “Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God.” For those who have read the negative reviews of Henry Blackaby’s teaching, I will simply say this: when I went through the Experiencing God course, I kept finding that the teachings came out of Scripture and showed the ways that God has always worked with his people. When I read the negative reviews, I found that they did not address the consistency of teaching that expected God to work among his people today just as he taught in his word. I also saw that the negative reviews seemed to come from the camp that denies the teachings of how the Holy Spirit works among his people, hence coming to conclusions about that work that are contrary to God’s word. One other note of my own discernment on the matter is that it seems like someone today who teaches God’s people to keep in step with the Spirit are treated as suspect, while, at the same time, Hudson Taylor is respected for following what he believed God was leading him to do in China, and William Carey is respected for following what he considered to be the Lord’s leading to India, and Martin Luther is respected for his stand based on what he believed God wanted him to do. I could go on. It simply ought to be factored in to our examination of these things that the opponents of an Experiencing God lifestyle don’t seem to talk about our brothers who, in the past, lived the way Henry Blackaby describes. It only seems that someone is suspect if they think God still that works today and are alive to tell about it. Just sayin’, as they say. Oh yes, I have a wonderful testimony of how Henry Blackaby and the Experiencing God course discipled me starting in 1992, and led me into the relationship with God that enabled me to walk by faith through the most painful things I have ever gone through in my whole life. I am not “endorsing” either Henry Blackaby or his Experiencing God course. I simply have not found anything in the man or the method that is against Scripture, while the claims against him and his ministry are.
[8] Leviticus 26:18, 21, 23-24, 27-28
[9] Jeremiah 31:3
[10] Leviticus 26:44
[11] Leviticus 26:40-42
[12] I John 1:9
[13] I John 4:8 with Jeremiah 31:3
[14] John 1:12-13

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