"I have loved you," says the LORD. But you say, "How have You loved us?" "Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" declares the LORD. "Yet I have loved Jacob;
Insights: These Israelites did not understand true love. God is declaring to them that He has always loved them. But in the words of E. Ray Clendenen, “[They] like self-centered children had begun taking love for granted, Judah became blind to it and responded to the Lord’s discipline with, ‘You don’t love me.’” Before the Babylonians came and exiled the people of Judah they were very prosperous; and in their wealth, they failed to acknowledge God and show gratitude to Him for His provision. Now, after the return from exile the people of Judah are dirt poor; and in their poverty, they failed to acknowledge God and show gratitude to Him for His deliverance. Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a great visual image of the children of Israel’s attitude toward God. Give me, give me, and give me more is the cry of Israel. Just as Veruca wanted an Oompa Loompa NOW and she wanted the golden goose NOW and when all the children got one everlasting gobstopper, she wanted two. For Veruca discipline was not associated with love and the same is true of Israel. They are asking God, “How have You loved us?” In other words, they are saying “We are suffering, but You say You love us, how is this possible?” They were incapable of recognizing it was because God did love them that they were experience all of these difficulties. In fact the Hebrew word God used for love literally means, “a passionate desire to be intimately united with a person.” In other words, God is saying, “I want such an intimate relationship with you that I am allowing you to experience My hand of discipline in order to bring you back to Me.” Unfortunately, I believe this sorry expression of misunderstanding, as it pertains to love, is one of the problems of the church in America. We want everyone happy; and therefore, no longer practice church discipline. We coddle and cradle the squeaky wheels that cause murmurings and dissention and do not turn our hearts back to the Lord who is revealing His love to us through His hand of discipline. We have turned love into niceties and friendliness and have forgotten longsuffering and faithfulness. Just like these Israelites, if we are not getting our way, then it must not be love. What a tragic commentary of the people of God. Beloved, we need to repent and cry out to God asking Him to restore us back to Love.
- Are you who does not associate love with discipline?
- Are you presently experiencing God’s hand of love through discipline?
Prayer: Father, thank You that You do love me enough to discipline me. Help my wandering heart to receive Your love in a proper response of gratitude. Amen.