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        This article is addressed to lonely people.  Are you among those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, had an accident and been temporarily laid aside, or recently encountered a great disappointment?  At the time of these experiences you had many friends who called on you to express their sympathy.  The letters of comfort and compassion were so helpful and strengthening.  But the days and weeks have slipped by, the calls have become less and less, and the letters and cards have dwindled.  And now, after the interest of others had faded, you are beginning to feel the real sting of loneliness.  How soon our friends forget our misfortunes.  They are concerned with their own duties and responsibilities, and in spite of their original good intentions you are now neglected.  Thank God for those few who do remember - but even they may not be able to continue, for new emergencies arise in their own lives and in the lives of others which must now occupy their attention.  There is One, however, who never forgets, whose interest never fails.  Instead of His sympathetic attention waning, it increases as time slips by.  He is the only One who could say, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee", and "lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age."

        This is study number eight in our series on the biblical doctrine of compassion.  We are presently studying the magnificent compassion of God.  Seven messages ago we embarked on a long expedition through the uses of various Hebrew and Greek words translated "compassion," "compassions," and  "compassionate."  We have surveyed all the Scriptures where the Hebrew word racham (raw-kham'), 7355, is translated "compassion," "compassions," or "compassionate," in relationship to God.

        We are now working on the second most commonly used Hebrew word that is translated "compassion," "compassions," and "compassionate."  That word is racham (rakh'-am), 7356.  After reviewing the Scriptures where the word racham (rakh'-am), 7356, is used, I could see:

Principle #3:  Jehovah God, as to His nature is love, He demonstrates His love by consistently being compassionate.  In certain instances His compassion is depicted as a Motherly feeling towards His children.

(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:)

Nehemiah 9:19, "Thou, in Thy great compassion, Didst not forsake them in the wilderness; The pillar of cloud did not leave them by day, To guide them on their way, Nor the pillar of fire by night, to light for them the way in which they were to go."

Observation 3.9:  Let us observe, first of all, that God's compassion is great!!!  God has chosen to give us a number of adjectives to describe the various characteristics of His nature.  We need these adjectives to begin to take in the magnitude of God's being and person.  Remember this particular Hebrew word speaks of Motherly compassion.  God's compassion is great.  It is infinitely greater than a mother's compassion is great towards her children.

        Here we see a specific display of the Motherly compassion of God toward His children.  The children of Israel were wandering through the wilderness because of their sin, stubbornness and rebellion.  The children of Israel were at most 40 days away from the promised land.  But the Israelites doubted God's word and sent spies to spy out the land.  Because of this faithless act, God condemned them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years, i.e. one year for every day that they spied out the land.  That is why I said that the promised land was 40 days away at most.

        Yet, even though they were wandering through the wilderness because of their sin and rebellion, God would not forsake His children.  He guided them through the wilderness with great power and care!  God refused to leave the children of Israel, but guided them as a mother would guide her own children with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  He would not leave them, nor forsake them, but remained in their presence to gently lead them!

        Thank God that He is the same yesterday, today and forever!  He told the Israelites in

Malachi 3:6, "For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed."

The Israelites were not destroyed because of the immutability of God's steadfast covenant love.  Their existence had nothing to do with their conduct or their attitude.

        Praise God for His immutability.  He not only still loves Israel with tender, Motherly care, but also loves us with the same kind of love.  He has promised us, as He promised the Israelites,

"I will never leave you nor forsake you!"

What a promise!  He promised to be with us in good times and bad, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, in prosperity and in adversity, when the sun is shining and when the rain clouds are filling the sky.

        But not only is He ever present with us, He continually guides us with His indwelling presence of the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire through the instrumentality of word of God and the agency of the Holy Spirit.  David expressed it beautifully in:

Psalm 119:105, "They word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

I wonder if that's the same light that was in the pillar of fire that led the children of Israel!  Whether it is or not, it is the same guidance of Jehovah God.

        John expressed it strongly in:

John 10:4, "When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice."

You can't get lost when you are following Jesus!!!  Sheep are so dumb that they don't understand direction.  In order for them to get where they need to go they must follow one another, as they follow the shepherd.

        Sometimes, the path may seem long, but it is sure!

(Let's move on to the next Scripture.)

Nehemiah 9:27 "Therefore Thou didst deliver them into the hand of their oppressors who oppressed them, But when they cried to Thee in the time of their distress, Thou didst hear from heaven, and according to Thy great compassion Thou didst give them deliverers who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors.

Observation 3.10:  We have already noted that God's compassion does run out in Principle #2.  We have already observed and resolved that highhanded, unconfessed sin inhibits and prohibits God's compassion and that the condition for restoring His temporal compassion is repentance.  This is seen repeatedly in the history of God's people, particularly during the book of Numbers and during the time of the judges.  The children of Israel rebelled against God at least 10 times during the book of Numbers, but He always turned His face towards them when they repented.  The book of Judges, is the book of cycles.  The people fall into sin; God disciplines them with foreign oppression; the people cry out in repentance; God raises up a deliverer; peace is restored.  This five-step cycle - sin, servitude, supplication, salvation, silence - is repeated a total of seven times in the Judges.  But God, ever faithful to His covenant people, extends His grace and compassion to them again and again.

        The particular nuance that I would like to bring to your attention in this passage of Scripture is captured in the phrase, "But when they cried to Thee in time of their distress."  Doesn't this powerfully and passionately highlight the Motherly nature of Jehovah God?  For He cannot turn a deaf ear to the painful, distressful cries of His own children!!!

        The Son knew this, when He was on earth, and approached His Mother-Father in this manner!

Hebrews 5:7, "In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety."

I know that you have never thought of Jesus Christ doing anything like this!!!

        Not only is this the nature of Jehovah God, but it is the nature of His Son, Jesus Christ, the exact representation of God's nature, the image of the invisible God, the only begotten God, God manifest in the flesh, Emmanuel, i.e. God with us.  On several occasions in the gospels, Jesus Christ turned to grant to one of His followers their impassioned, importuned plea.  One such case is with the woman who had the demon possessed daughter in

Matthew 15:21-28.

The parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge.

        So, if you knew the nature of God you would offer up prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears, because He is Mother who cannot turn a deaf ear to His children!

(Let's move on the next Scripture.)

Nehemiah 9:28 "But as soon as they had rest, they did evil again before Thee; Therefore Thou didst abandon them to the hand of their enemies, so that they ruled over them.  When they cried again to Thee, Thou didst hear from heaven, And many times Thou didst rescue them according to Thy compassion.

Observation 3.11:  When God's compassion had run out and He had abandoned His children to the hands of their enemies, we know that they cried to God.  He heard them and rescued them many times and the basis of those rescues was strictly His compassion.  Observation 1.1.

        I have often heard discussion over whether any one will have a second chance to be saved during the tribulation period, if they have rejected Jesus during the age of grace.  Although I don't believe that many, if any, will accept Jesus under the threat of decapitation, when they would not accept Him in the age of grace, yet it would not be at all inconsistent with the nature of God.  For even though the forgiveness and compassion of God can run out, our God is a God of the second chance, the third chance, the fourth chance, etc.  And because you are His child, He will ultimately save you in spite of the number of chances that He has given you to rectify your temporal situation.

        This should be of great comfort to all Christians, but we must also keep in mind that the proof of our Christianity is in how we live!

(Let's move on to the next Scripture.)

Nehemiah 9:31 "Nevertheless, in Thy great compassion Thou didst not make an end of them or forsake them, For Thou art a gracious and compassionate God.

Observation 3.12:  This fact that God does not finally destroy His children is due to His Motherly compassion.  This principle is repeated and demonstrated throughout the Scriptures.

        The reason that we are not destroyed is because of the magnificent compassion of God.

Psalm 103:14, "For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust."

Jesus know!

(Let's move on to our final Scripture for today.)

Psalm 25:6, "Remember, O Lord, Thy compassion and Thy lovingkindnesses, For they have been from of old."

Observation 3.13:  David calls upon God to remember His compassion and lovingkindnesses.  Then He reminds God of how long He has been displaying His compassion and lovingkindnesses.  His Motherly compassion, which is immanent and absolute in one sense, and a transitive, relative or temporal attribute of God, a demonstration of His love, in another sense, has been resident inside of God as long as God has been in existence.  His lovingkindnesses are the acts which display His lovingkindness.  These acts began before the foundation of the world, because Jesus was slain before the foundation of the world.  Therefore, indeed His compassion and lovingkindnesses have been from of old, i.e. everlasting.  So, David appeals to God for compassion and lovingkindnesses on the basis of God's own immutable nature.

        We would do well to remember that God's demonstration of His love is everlasting.  Then when we feel a need to experience His compassion, we would appeal to God on the only legitimate basis that we have:  His own immutable, gracious nature.

        Praise Jehovah God for His compassion which is great, sensitive, knowledgeable, immutable, sovereign, covenantal and everlasting.  He will never leave us nor forsake us!!!

(Now is the day of Salvation.  Come to Jesus, now!)


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