Monday, December 21, 2015

The Heart of God

Does God ever seem remote and distant?  At times we may even think thoughts like these—“He is high and exalted but far removed from our lives.  He takes care of the big things and only interacts with my life when I do something wrong.”  I fear that for many of us we often see our heavenly Father this way.  Recently in reading some of the prophets I noticed some striking imagery about God’s love and care for his people.

In Jeremiah 30-33 there are promises made to Israel concerning the release from exile.  Israel’s sin had brought them to a place of exile but God would again have mercy.  Here are some words which speak of God’s “heart” in the matter.

Is Ephraim my dear son?  Is he a delightful child?  Indeed, as often as I have spoken against him, I certainly still remember him; therefore my heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him,” declares the Lord.  Jeremiah 31.20

God’s heart “yearns” for his people—this is no passive or disinterested deity!  Consider these words which speak of an “everlasting covenant” to be made with God’s people:

I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from me.  I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all my heart and with all my soul.  Jeremiah 32.40-41

That last phrase—“with all my heart and with all my soul”—captured my attention.  That language is used of our requirement to love God (Deuteronomy 6.5; Mark 12.30).  But here the language of heart and soul is spoken of as God’s commitment to us—his desire to do good to his people!  This is a portrait of God’s gracious and tenacious commitment to the good of his people.  Our God is not “half-hearted” in his commitment to love us.  He demonstrates his whole-hearted commitment to love us in sending his only unique Son, Jesus Christ to die for our sins.  The New Testament speaks of these realities in this way:

But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5.8

Look to Christ and his cross—see the great full-hearted love of God for his people.  In this rejoice and trust—for our God is a God of whole-hearted love!