Monday, June 8, 2009

The Crying Savior.

I’ve been reading through the Bible and there is something startling that happens when you read the scriptures all together. I’ve always said that the Old Testament shows us the heart of God and it has proven true again. There, in the words of the prophets, you hear God’s desperate plea. His constant war with his justice and his mercy and in the midst of them, his cry of pain. And there, in the pages, you can find- our broken hearted Savior. One so desperate for the salvation of His people, that he was willing to come to earth and bear their sin upon himself.

All of Jeremiah, I think, could be condensed to three words, “Return to me.” Except that, even then, perhaps you wouldn’t hear the anguished cry that comes pouring out of the pages… He wavers between saying, “You are unfaithful. You must be destroyed.” and saying, “You are my loved ones! You were made for me! Come back!” As I read through chapter upon chapter, I could see why Jeremiah is called the “weeping prophet”, it is simply because he prophesied the words of a weeping God. In my mind I could see the King of all kneeling before the blood stained Israel saying, “Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me; I cannot keep silent.” (ch. 4:19) “Why? Why have you left me? Why have you done this? Why won’t you turn back to me? I have to destroy you but if you would just come back then I could redeem you! I would forgive everything. But you keep on going, you keep searching for other gods. Why?”

Yet, even there, amidst his crying and declaration of judgment- he proclaims that he will still save them. At the end of every tyrant of anger and frustration the tone changes. His words soften and a promise to bring them back screams the name of Jesus through the dripping of his tears.

The mighty nation that God built up from one man, falls into a heap. Yet, still, he loves them. In fact, if you listen through the anger, through the tears, through the pain- you can hear the song of love that reigns supreme through all of scripture. “I love you. I chose you. You turned from me. You mocked me. You hated me. You became everything that I can never be. But I love you. I love you still. I want you. Return to me.”

In the past I have heard people judge the Old Testament severely. They can’t understand the wars and the battles; the fierce God that you find leading the Israelites to “totally destroy” towns and villages, women and children, every living thing. But I somehow doubt that they’ve read the words while looking for the heart of God. If we just had the New Testament- there would be so much that we wouldn’t understand! The beauty of Jesus is magnified by the Old Testament. The relief of a new covenant is only there because of the pressing burden of the old. And the Justice of God is just as present in his heart as the Mercy of God. In fact, without the justice- the mercy isn’t nearly as breathtakingly beautiful.

God knows each of us. He sees into our hearts. He understands the incredible pain that life can bring. If you are dealing with heart-wrenching pain, then I hope you’ll go search out the God of the Old Testament… the one that battled horrifying rejection and came out saying, “I have to punish you because I am just but because I love you, I will bear your punishment.”

And when there is nothing you can do but cry, go read the book of Jeremiah and let God cry with you. For all the pain on this earth is here because of our rejection of Him and he too has wept at the pain we will face because of it. And then, when you’re finished crying together- go read the story of the crucifixion and then as Jesus conquers death to bring us life- allow your heart to bury the death that caused your pain and look with joy into the face of the Savior who brings you new life.

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