“Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.” (Matt. 5:4)
In this essay I am going out on a limb by comparing the inner feelings of man as opposed to the feelings of God in regard to the wayward children of Israel. Although, I am sure that the subject that I will be talking on is maybe familiar to some readers, it is mostly a personal experience of this writer. “In the beginning God created the heaven and earth…And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” (Gen. 1:1,3-4). As a child and growing into manhood, unbeknownst to me at the time, I lived in the darkness, for until the time that I met the girl that was to become my wife, I had never darkened the door of any church, even though I had friends who went to church every Sunday, sometimes twice. That girl that I met came from one of those families.
Raised in a staunch Reformed Protestant environment, she persuaded me to come to church with her, where for the first time in my life I started to learn about this wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ, who had suffered and died to save even me. That was in the beginning and I was lifted out of the darkness into His glorious light. Things were good and God was pleased! “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” (Luke 15:10). After I married that girl we were blessed with four children from the Lord, whom we raised in a Christian environment, had them baptized and dedicated to the Lord and instructed them to the best of our ability in the way of God as laid out in the Bible. Things were not always perfect and the children had to be corrected and chastised in order to steer them in the right direction on their way to maturity.
Likewise, God married Israel at Sinai and through several generations from Moses and Joshua and through Judges God had to correct and chastise Israel until the nation matured under David and Solomon, their Kings, under whose reign there was peace, tranquility and good relationship and attitude toward God. That God was pleased with the children of Israel at that time is born out in the fact that His blessings poured out abundantly during that period in time.
During the sixties and seventies of the last century North America especially witnessed the flower children and hippie movement, with its free sex, booze and drugs, which forever changed the moral and spiritual landscape of the West. It set the tone for the permissive, immoral, decadent lifestyle and attitude that is all prevalent today. It was the time of the Dr. Spock attitude to let a child express itself and not being chastised, for that would hurt the child’s feelings. This attitude would soon find its way into the classrooms and curriculum of the schools, with the result that today’s society has no respect for authorities, whether in the home or outside of it, and it has done away with all moral standards. Those of us raising children during that time were deeply saddened and frustrated with these turns of events. Even though the children of those days, including my own, were not directly involved in this evolution of our society, the aftermath of it soon became apparent in the generation that followed. Even church attendance dwindled and the populace became more and more apostate. Those of us who stuck to our Biblical principals cried to the Lord in frustration, but found no relief in this matter. God was surely not pleased for the blessings on the nations diminished drastically, for we had become like it says in Hosea 1:9, Lo-am-mi, not His people.
After the death of Solomon the Israel nation was divided into two Kingdoms, the nation of Judah to the south and the nation of Israel to the north. Judah by and large retained the Temple worship to the true God for a good number of years but the nation of Israel fell into idolatry right from the beginning. In order to prevent the people of Israel of going to Jerusalem to worship, Jeroboam made the golden calf for the people to worship and told them that those were now their gods. (Kings 12:22). That Northern Kingdom became so corrupt in about two hundred years that God banished them from the land and from before His face. By the time of their captivity their idolatry and immorality had reached such an extreme that even a loving and caring God could take it no longer, even though He corrected and chastised them repeatedly. God gave them every chance to return unto Him but they would not, much like the mindset of today.
In Proverbs 17:6, we read that “Children’s children are a crown to the aged:” (NIV), in other words grandchildren are a crowning achievement, which is a blessing from God our Father, which in turn places on us the responsibility to help rear these grandchildren with all the spiritual guidance we can possibly give. And this brings me to the crux of the matter. Two of my grandsons were raised by their mother alone, since the father walked out on them when the children were still quite young. My wife and I supported our daughter to the best of our ability with the raising of her family, but when these boys reached their teens it became apparent that the outside peer pressure was stronger that what we had to offer. They hung out with the wrong friends, got into trouble with the local authorities more than once such as driving without a license, disorderly conduct, drunkenness, possession, etc. But like it says in Hosea 8:7, “They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind”. And so about a year ago both brothers were persuaded to participate in something that has gotten them into serious trouble, and they won’t be free men for some time to come. Just like Israel of old who would not listen to the warnings of God’s prophets, neither did these two young men listen to the admonitions, the preaching, the advice and the pleading of their elders. We often read about crime in our newspapers and wonder what our world is coming to, and then, smack, it hits you right in the face. This affair has devastated our whole family, the hurt and despair are sometimes too much to bear and so many tears have been shed, and all because they had all the answers and would not listen to reason.
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.” (Ex. 20: 3,4,5). These admonitions are quite plain and explicit, but Israel did just that which they had been warned about not to do. They started to worship the golden calf, they paid tribute to Baal and Molech and in general served all the other Canaanite gods and thus totally and willingly ignored the one true God. God on the other hand sent them prophet after prophet in order to show them the error of their way, but all to no avail. “Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant; I have formed thee; thou art my servant, O Israel; thou shalt not be forgotten by me. I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins; return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.” (Isa. 44: 21,22). “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you:” (Jer. 4:14). “A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping, and supplications of the children of Israel; for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the Lord their God. Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.” (Jer.3:21,22). “O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.” (Hos. 14:1). I could go on quoting text after text, but these four will be enough to show the deep unfailing and unwavering love the Father bears toward us, His children, and in these verses we can hear the agony, we feel the hurt, we can taste the tears. For He said that us only had He known, yet we had forsaken Him.
But in His great love God the Father sent us a Redeemer and made a New Covenant written in blood, the blood of the only begotten Son of God, the blood shed at Calvary so that whosoever believeth on the Son should not perish, but have everlasting life, for there is no other name under Heaven by which we can be saved. And that name is Jesus, the Christ our Lord and Savior.
Since their incarceration both my grandsons have returned to studying the Bible and by the Grace of God, may they persevere in establishing a close relationship with their Lord and Saviour. For like it says in Luke 15:10, there shall be rejoicing in Heaven for every sinner that repents and thus may also the harmony of the family be restored. We pray to God that this may be so. For we serve a gracious God, who will remember our sins no more. Amen.