THE BENEFITS OF GOD'S COMPASSIONATE FEELINGS
"THE QUEEN SAID NOTHING!"
Queen Victoria expressed sympathy when she heard that the wife of a common laborer had unexpectedly lost her baby. Having experienced deep sorrow herself, she called on the bereaved woman and stayed with her for some time. After she left, the neighbors asked what the royal visitor had said. "The queen said nothing," replied the grieving mother. "She simply put her hands on mine, and we silently wept together."
Compassion is an understanding of and a deep feeling for the misery of another, with an accompanying desire to relieve that misery. Compassion is not always demonstrated through saying the right words. It is sometimes demonstrated through sharing an experience!
This is study number four in our series on the biblical doctrine of compassion. We are presently studying the magnificent compassion of God. Three messages ago we embarked on a long expedition through the uses of various Hebrew and Greek words translated "compassion," "compassions," and "compassionate." We are presently looking at all the Scriptures where the Hebrew word racham (raw-kham'), 7355, is translated "compassion" in relationship to God. After observation and interpretation, I drew from these Scriptures various propositional statements or principles. The particular principle that we are still working on is
Principle #1: Jehovah God, as to His nature, is love. He consistently demonstrates His love by being compassionate.
(As we look at how each of these principles concerning God's compassion is represented in the Scripture, we have been making specific observations in each individual passage of Scripture. Although these observations will, in many cases, include an observation, an interpretation and an application, for the sake of brevity we have been calling these statements "observations". We have been numbering them with a double number. The first number indicates the principle that is being applied and the second number indicates the particular observation with respect to that principle. Let's continue our present study with:)
Isaiah 49:15, "Can a woman forget her nursing child, And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you."
Observation 1.14: The truth that is taught by this particular Scripture is very, very deep! God is speaking to the Children of Israel through the prophet Isaiah. He begins by asking them a question, "Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb?" The answer to the question, from my perspective, is: it is highly unlikely, though possible! Last summer we studied the phenomenon of bonding. During that series of messages we studied the tremendous bonding that occurs between a mother and her child when that mother chooses to breast-feed the child. We studied the fact that the bonding of mother to child is equal to or greater than the bonding of child to mother. In the light of that information, we can say that a mother who nurses or breast-feeds her children will have a tremendous attachment to them and will certainly have compassion upon them!!!
But we must admit that we are human beings with a plethora of problems and it is possible for a mother to breast-feed her children and still have no compassion on them. God helps us out by stating, "Even these may forget!" To not have compassion on a person is likened to forgetting him/her.
Well, God likens himself to this nursing mother and says, "But I will not forget you!" What a promise!!! A mother has internal, God-given, compassionate instincts. These instincts should be energized by the inception, carrying and nursing of the fruit of her body, but God's very nature is love and He will not forget us or withhold compassion from us. Perhaps God uses this illustration and comparison, because He wants to highlight His own motherly nature. Where does the concept of motherhood come from? From God!!!
The illustration of a nursing mother is very interesting in the light of the fact that in the Old Testament one of the names of God is El Shaddai. It is translated: The Almighty, but the literal meaning is much more instructive. The Hebrew word shad is literally the nursing breast of a mother. Shaddai is the plural of shad. The Hebrew word El stands for God and is seen in the important name of God Elohim. Therefore, this name of God, El Shaddai, is literally God, the double-breasted One! What a tender picture of the Almighty God!
We serve a God who loves us and has compassion on us like a perfect mother!
(Let's move on to the next occurrence of this Hebrew word.)
Isaiah 54:10, "For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken," Says the Lord who has compassion on you."
Observation 1.15: In this particular passage of Scripture, God reveals Himself to Israel as the One who has compassion on her.
We should know God as the One who has compassion upon us. He is the Lover of our souls!!! And He displays that love through His tender, merciful, gracious, compassion. Therefore, God is revealing Himself to Israel as the One who has a deep feeling for their suffering; as The One who has an understanding of their suffering; and as the One who will ultimately relieve their suffering!
I can hear somebody say, "But how can God understand the suffering of the human Israelites?" The answer is, "In the timeless event of the crucifixion! The crucifixion has always been a fact of eternity. The Bible implies that God and Jesus made a contract in eternity past. Jesus promised to die for the world and God promised to save the world through His death. The Bible explicitly states that Jesus was the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. The Bible also explicitly states that God was in Jesus reconciling the world unto Himself. So, God has always felt and understood human suffering through the timeless death of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, upon the cross!
Once again we see the unconditional, eternal lovingkindness of God. His lovingkindness is described as being more steadfast than material creation. God contrasts His compassion with the mountains being moved and the hills being shaken.
When this was written, some 3,000 years ago, who could conceive of the mountains being removed? The mountains were considered steadfast. Who could consider the hills being shaken except in an earthquake? God says even though the mountains may be removed, He would not remove His lovingkindness from His people. He says even though the hills may be shaken, His covenant of peace with His people could not be shaken. Here is perhaps indirect evidence of the inspiration of Scriptures. God says that the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake and today mountains are removed for highway construction and the hills shake in a number of instances (nuclear explosions, at the lifting off of rockets around Cape Kennedy, etc.). But He assures the Israelites that even though these tremendous phenomena may take place, His lovingkindness and His compassion cannot be ultimately removed or shaken!!!
Praise God because His promise is just as sure to us!
Hebrews 13:5, "Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, `I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.'"
Hebrews 13:28-29, "Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire."
(Let's move on to the next Scripture.)
Isaiah 55:7, "Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the Lord, And He will have compassion on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon."
Observation 1.16: We have observed in our study so far that there are temporal conditions for retaining God's temporal compassion. The one summary condition that we have discussed is repentance from sin. Here we find additional, important information on the temporal condition of repentance for the restoration of God's compassion, after sin. This repentance is seen in its various elements:
(1) the sinning Israelite was to forsake His way of living;
(2) forsake His way of thinking; and
(3) return to Jehovah.
We actually see the two sides of genuine faith or conversion: repentance and faith, i.e. turning from sin and turning to God.
Turning from sin and to God are also put in juxtaposition, i.e comparison, to forgiveness.
One reason to turn from sin to God was that He would have compassion upon the guilty person.
The second reason was that He would pardon or forgive the guilty person.
Therefore, we could say that another effect of God's temporal compassion, when the conditions are met, is forgiveness of sin! This will help us understand Scriptures that condition God's forgiveness upon our demonstration of forgiveness. These Scriptures refer, no doubt, to temporal forgiveness. We know that God's eternal forgiveness is built upon grace, faith and repentance, not works!!!
We should rejoice in the fact that the immutable God still forgives sin today.
1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
We have already studied the fact that confession is one of the fruits of repentance. So, when we repent today we receive the same gracious forgiveness that has always been extended to God's children because of His lovingkindness and the timeless, justifying death of His Son, Jesus Christ!
(Alright, next Scripture.)
Hosea 1:7, "But I will have compassion on the house of Judah and deliver them by the Lord their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses, or horsemen."
Observation 1.2: No man can lay any just claim to the grace and compassion of Jehovah God. His grace and compassion are unconditional and they originate within Himself. God in His unconditional compassion will ultimately deliver Israel from her captivity through supernatural, as opposed to temporal, means.
God has demonstrated His unconditional compassion towards us who believe by delivering us from the captivity of sin through the supernatural means of the blood of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit.
(Let's move on to the next Scripture.)
Hosea 2:23, "And I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, And I will say to those who were not My people, `You are My people!' And they will say, `Thou art my God!'"
Micah 7:19, "He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea."
Observation 1.17: Micah, the prophet of God, understood and was assured of God's renewed compassion in the face of their rebellion and sin. He was assured that God would have compassion upon rebellious Israel again, in time. In the stating of His assurance, He gives two effects or results of God's compassion. These two effects or results of compassion can be viewed as two additional descriptions of the forgiveness that God will bestow upon Israel:
(1) He will tread their sins under His foot; and
(2) He will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
Think about it metaphorically for a moment! The God of the universe is immense. He fills the heavens and the earth. What size shoe does God wear? Size one million? And how much does God weigh? One billion pounds? Whatever His shoe size and whatever His weight, He is going to walk on our sins. He is going to stamp out our sins!!! I am not trying to be sacrilegious by asking these questions. On the contrary, I am trying to bring out the biblical imagery that is used in this context.
Secondarily, forgiveness is described as God casting all of Israel's sins into the depths of the sea. The bottom of the deepest seas and oceans of the world were black and unfathomable. If God cast their sins in the depths of the deep blue sea, who could go down and bring them up again? Not until recently have the deepest parts of the seas and oceans of the world even been charted. They have since been charted, but not explored yet because the equipment that would allow men to descend to such great depths is still being designed.
I praise God that He has trampled my sin into the dust of the earth and cast my sin into the depth of the sea. I shall never see them again all because of His compassion!!!
A preacher on an evangelistic tour of West Germany was invited to spend the night with some members of a local congregation. The family consisted of a father, a mother, and a 12-year-old boy. As they all sat around the fire, the father began to tell of the circumstances surrounding the adoption of their only son, a youngster they had aided during the war years. "The child was just a poor orphan when we first saw him," said the man. "He was in rags and very dirty, but his shoes were the worst of all. The upper parts were in tatters, and the soles had huge holes in them. We immediately gave him new clothes, but decided to keep those battered shoes as a reminder of how bad off he really had been. I put them in a closet nearby; and whenever our son complains or becomes unruly, I merely take them out to help him remember how much we've done for him." The preacher noticed that the lad looked hurt and ashamed and, in fact, a bit unwanted. Careful to avoid offending his host, and realizing he perhaps had a good motive in trying to make the youngster appreciate his blessings, the evangelist said nothing. Yet he recognized that always bringing up the grim past was disheartening to the boy. He thought to himself, what a blessing it is that God has cast our sins into the sea of everlasting forgetfulness.
(Let's move on to the final Scripture for today.)
Zechariah 10:6, "And I shall strengthen the house of Judah, And I shall save the house of Joseph, And I shall bring them back, Because I have had compassion on them; And they will be as though I had not rejected them, For I am the Lord their God, and I will answer them."
Observation 1.18: The theme of the immanent, absolute, intransitive, compassion of God should be familiar to us by now. It is being constantly repeated as we study the usage of the Hebrew word racham (raw-kham'), 7355, with respect to God. Here we see it again, but this time we see some additional effects or results of the manifestation of God's compassion towards His children. Because of His compassion upon Israel and because He is the "Lord Their God," one day He will:
(1) Strengthen the house of Judah;
(2) Save the house of Joseph;
(3) Bring them back to Himself and to their own land;
(4) Deal with them as though He had never rejected them; and
(5) Answer their prayers.
Five is the number of grace! These are five gracious effects or results of the compassion of God towards Israel.
Praise God that He strengthens us, preserves us, reconciles us to Himself and to His inheritance, deals with us as though we had never been rejected and answers our prayers!
I want to highlight, for one moment, effect number four for us, i.e. New Testament children of God. This effect is called justification. God declares those of us who place our faith in Jesus Christ, "Not guilty!" just as if we had never sinned! We have heard that enough times to begin to develop an appreciation for it, but the Scripture before us points out another aspect of justification that is seldom brought out. In Jesus Christ we are justified. We are just as if we had never sinned. But we are even more than! We are just as if we had never done anything wrong. What a mighty God we serve!
We have observed once again in the Scriptures, that God, by nature is a loving and compassionate God. We have observed the steadfastness and eternality of His divine love and compassion. We have also again seen that repentance is necessary to restore God's temporal compassion. In addition, we have seen numerous effects, results, or benefits of God's compassion in time: forgiveness, justification, strength, preservation, reconciliation, and answered prayers. What can we do in the glorious light of these Scriptures but magnify God for who He is and what He does!
(Now is the day of Salvation. Come to Jesus, now!)
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