Posted June 02, 2015
For the Lord will not cast off forever,but, though he cause grief, he will have compassionaccording to the abundance of his steadfast love;for he does not afflict from his heartor grieve the children of men.
As we saw a couple weeks ago, the writer of Lamentations had seen Jerusalem be destroyed at the hands of the Babylonians as a result of their unfaithfulness to God and His covenant. These 3 verses from this week pull back the curtains a bit to help us see what was behind the event, particularly God’s heart toward His own people as all this was happening. Had He forgotten them? Had He given up? Did He stop caring? Was He angry beyond repair? Here we discover that there was a casting off, but not indefinitely. There was causing of grief, but not out of revenge. There was afflicting and grieving, but for an intended purpose. It’s through these verses that we’re reminded of God’s posture and heart toward His people in the midst of His discipline.
Picture a parent watching their own kids acting out on certain impulses at home or at school that were ultimately killing them. What would a loving parent do? Unlike our earthly fathers and mothers, God’s discipline is a perfect discipline. Many parents can be passive in their roles, and never discipline their children to their children’s destruction. Other parents discipline out of rage or frustration. God is neither! Here we see a God disciplining His people out of love for them! He desires their good.
Now picture a husband watching his wife destroy herself with other lovers. What is this husband to do? Sit around and watch her do this indifferently or intervene in love? If we saw any husband do this, we’d say he ultimately didn’t care about his wife or their relationship. God’s covenantal (“hesed”) love is many things but it is most definitely not indifferent. It is faithful and steady and strong and perfectly jealous, a godly jealousy untainted by any sin. God loves His bride and will not let her destroy herself! In this case, He allowed Jerusalem’s invasion that ultimately they might be restored to Him. Their physical affliction was ultimately intended for their spiritual preservation.
We must learn to see that God neither interacts with us indifferently or out of fits of rage. Rather, out of His holy love, He disciplines His people for their good and His glory. There is great purpose, and it is precisely this discipline that reminds us we are His children (Hebrews 12:5-8)! We should be grateful that His love is not passive, but rather active in seeking us out! The Gospel Transformation Bible helps us see these verses in light of Jesus’ latter work on the cross for us: “Steadfast love” (vv. 22, 32) translates the Hebrew word hesed, which links God’s love to his covenant faithfulness. This covenant was never conditioned on human faithfulness, and it leads straight to the new covenant established solely by the sovereign mercy of God and ultimately sealed in Jesus’ blood (Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25). God will never cast his people off, because he did cast off his own Son in their place (Rom. 8:32).”
What beautiful and amazing news! God cast off His own Son that we might be drawn in. His Son was afflicted that we might healed. His covenantal love is trustworthy and true.
Song by Aaron Strumpel.
Artwork by KyLynn Richey.