One of my favorite sections of the Bible to read is the Old Testament prophets. That's because it's here that, verse after verse, the prophets declare God's love for his people. They share time and time again that God will restore them inspite of their disobedience and hardened hearts. Over and over again, God speaks up and promises us his heart, his love, his forgiveness, his redemption. I know that if I'm having a hard day or just want a good reminder for my heart, I can flip to these chapters (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekial and the like) and not have to flip long before I rediscover these truths, beautiful sentiments like:
"The LORD your God is with you; the mighty One will save you. He will rejoice over you. You will rest in his love; he will sing and be joyful about you." (Zephaniah 3:17)One thing I especially love that you find in these books is that God showers these affections on his people most often when they've betrayed him, left him, turned their backs on him and brought destruction upon themselves. Even in those moments, he shares his deep devotion to them and his desire to restore them, heal them, lavish them:
"...I will not forget you. See, I have written your name on my hand. Jerusalem, I always think about your walls." (Isaiah 49:15-16)
"Israel, how can I give you up? How can I give you away, Israel? .... My heart beats for you, and my love for you stirs up my pity." (Hosea 11:8)
"So, I [the Lord] am going to attract her [the people of Israel, who are worshiping other gods and idols]; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and I will make the Valley of Trouble a door of hope...." (Hosea 2:14-15)How beautiful are those words? And he still is whispering them to us, today.
"'I have seen what they have done, but I will heal them. I will guide them and comfort them and those who felt sad for them. They will all praise me. I will give peace, real peace, to those far and near, and I will heal them,' says the LORD." (Isaiah 57:18-19)
1 John 3:1 says, "Consider this: The Father has given us his love. He loves us so much that we are actually called God's dear children. And that's what we are." We can rest assured that we too stir his heart, that our names are written on the palm of his hand.
A lesson from the Garden of Eden: How God prepares for us
Unexpected insights from a boring Old Testament list