GOD GETS EMOTIONAL ABOUT HIS RELATIONSHIPS
"I WAS THERE"
A mother once told of an incident which occurred shortly after she received the news that one of her sons had been killed in Germany. She said that while shopping, she saw a friend who had also lost a son in the war. When the two ladies met, they embraced without speaking. But in their silence each was eloquently communicating comfort to the other. They were saying in their heart, "I know how you feel, for I too have gone through the deep waters of sorrow."
Likewise, God feels deeply for and understands our sorrow because He too has gone through the deep waters of sorrow in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jehovah God is a compassionate God!!!
This is study fourteen in our series on the biblical doctrine of compassion. We are presently studying the magnificent compassion of God. Thirteen 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 most common Hebrew word, racham (raw-kham'), 7355, and the second most common Hebrew word, racham (rakh'-am), 7356, and the third most common word, rachuwm (rakh-oom'), 7349, the fourth most common Hebrew word, chamal (khaw-mal'), 2550, the fifth most common Hebrew word, chemlah (kham-law'), 2551, and the sixth most common Hebrew word, chus (khoos), 2347, are translated "compassion," "compassions," or "compassionate."
(Let's move on to the next Hebrew word.)
The next Hebrew word in our study of compassion is nacham (naw-kham') 5162. This is the word that was translated "relent" in the NASB. This word and its cognates, "relented," "relenting," and "relents," are used only in the Old Testament of the NASB and they occur 14 times. Thirteen times the Hebrew word is nacham (naw-kham') 5162. The picture that is painted by use of this word is God being so moved over His children that He is moved to sighing in sorrow and pity. So this is another Hebrew word that could be translated "pity."
Although the words "relent" and "compassion" were shown to be synonyms in message number 12, it is not within the context of our study to study these thirteen occurrences. We have already formulated Principle #4 with respect to this particular usage.
Principle #4: Jehovah God as to His nature is love. He consistently demonstrates His love by being compassionate. In certain instances, His compassion is depicted as pity. He has sympathetic, heartfelt sorrow for our suffering. He pities us!
The word nacham (naw-kham') 5162 is translated "have compassion" two times. Once in
Deuteronomy 32:36, "For the Lord will vindicate His people, And will have compassion on His servants; When He sees that their strength is gone, And there is none remaining, bond or free."
And once in
Psalm 135:14, "For the Lord will judge His people, And will have compassion on His servants."
Observation 4.2: Although the principle in effect here is still #4, we pick up a couple of specific situations where the principle is applied. God will pity His people when they are weak and when He judges them.
I don't know about you, but these are two specific times when I need the pity of the Lord God. There are times when I am weak, my strength is gone, I am barely holding on, but Jesus pities me and gives me strength.
Isaiah 40:29-31, "He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary."
Not only that, but I know that in me, i.e. in my flesh dwells no good thing. I know that all my righteousnesses are nothing more than filthy rags in the sight of God. I know that I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Therefore, I know that I need pity and compassion from Jehovah God when He judges me. But He stated in
Malachi 4:17, "`And they will be mine,' says the Lord of hosts, `on the day that I prepare My own possessions (i.e. the day of judgment), and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.'"
(Let's move on to the next word.)
The Hebrew word nichum (nee-khoom'), 5150 is used one time and translated `compassions' in
Hosea 11:8, "How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned over within Me, All My compassions are kindled."
The literal meaning of the word is "consoled." It comes from the primary Hebrew word nacham (naw-kham'), 5162. All of Jehovah's compassions, i.e. feelings of pity and consolation are kindled when He considers giving His people, Israel, up to the destruction of punishment for their rebellion and sins. Before we state the observation here, we need to identify Admah and Zeboiim. Admah and Zeboiim were two cities in the valley of Siddim, which were destroyed by fire from heaven along with Sodom and Gomorrah.
This can be seen in:
Deuteronomy 29:22-23, "Now the generation to come, your sons who rise up after you and the foreigner who comes from a distant land, when they see the plagues of the land, the diseases with which the Lord has afflicted it, will say, `All its land is brimstone and salt, a burning waste, un-sown and unproductive, and no grass grows in it, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah Admah and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in His anger and in His wrath.'"
Although this is in keeping with Principle #4, we need to make a special observation:
Observation 4.3: I praise God that our God is an emotional God who gets emotional about His relationships!!! All of His emotions are stirred up at time when He thinks about giving any of His children over to chastening!
Certainly, He can understand and pity me when I get emotional about my relationships!!! All my emotions get stirred up when I think about losing or conflicting within my relationships. I get emotionally sick! But Jesus knows just how I feel!!!
I have gotten the impression from people around me that I love too much. That has bothered me for the past three or four years. I have been examining myself and asking God, "Do I love too much?" Well, in my study and experience He has recently answered me: "No, you cannot love too much!!! Did I love too much when I loved the world?" Then it began to make perfect sense to me. God so loved the world that He gave all that He had: His only-begotten Son. The Son so loved the world that He gave His very life. The Holy Spirit so loved the world that He gave His constant love, nurture and comfort to those who believe in Jesus. And He commands us to love the world enough to lay down our very lives for the brethren. So, God didn't love too much, and we certainly do not love too much. Then what is the problem? God has love and limits. He offers bonding and sets He boundaries. God says, "I love you with an everlasting love; I will never leave you nor forsake you; but do not sin against me in certain ways or I will withdraw from you!" That has been my problem. It was not that I loved to much, but that I didn't know how to set boundaries. I didn't know where I ended and the other person began. But praise God now I am learning!!! I am learning to stop becoming unhealthily enmeshed with people that I love.
I am also learning to limit the impact that loved ones have on me who want to invade my boundary and make me do things. I have learned that there can be no love without freedom. If you make me love you, then what you have is not love: but slavery. And there can be no freedom without responsibility. If you give me freedom to love you, I must take responsibility for the way I choose to love you.
Let me illustrate. You cannot make your wife love you. Being extremely jealous and following her everywhere she goes will not make her love you. The only way to get her love is to love her and grant her the freedom to give to you as she seems fit. If you do this, you can give up the responsibility of trying to live her life for her. Yet, there can be no freedom without responsibility. You will not be able to extend gracious freedom to your wife, if you sense that she will not take responsibility for certain things in your relationship.
(Let's move on the next Hebrew word.)
The next Hebrew word is nocham (no'-kham), 5164 and is translated `compassion' in
Hosea 13:14, "Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight."
Here Jehovah God is speaking to Ephraim, the northern kingdom of Israel. He is a compassionate God, but His compassion does have a limit. But let's try to understand what kind of compassion this is that God was going to limit. The Hebrew word means literally
"sorrow, repentance" (The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-Aramaic Lexicon).
Like nichum (nee-khoom'), 5150, nocham (no'-kham), 5164, is derived from nacham (naw-kham'), 5162, which speaks of pity. The idea is that God will no longer be sorrowful or repentant over the discipline that must come upon Ephraim, i.e. He will no longer spare the perpetrators. The converse of this kind of compassion would mean that God is normally sorrowful or repentant about the misfortune that His people must experience. That was just stated in the last principle. We studied God's limits back in Principle #2.
Principle #2: Jehovah God, as to His nature, is love. He consistently demonstrates His love by being compassionate. But God does have self-imposed limits and boundaries. These limits and boundaries have to do with how we handle sin in our lives. His compassion can run out due to high-handed and unrepented of sin. This running out of His compassion seems to be temporal, with respect to Israel, and not eternal. He sets conditions for restoration to His temporal compassion, but seems to state that in the final analysis His immanent lovingkindness and transitive compassion will be eternally bestowed upon Israel.
Therefore, this is actually Principle #2 considered from its emotional aspect. God is a living soul. All souls have intellect, emotion, and will. Yes God wills, at certain times, that we be chastened because of His knowledge of our sins, but He has feelings about that!
(The next Hebrew word.)
The Hebrew word chanan (khaw-nan'), 2603, is used one time in the Old Testament and translated compassion. It was used by Bildad in his speech to Job in
Job 8:5, "If you would seek God And implore the compassion of the Almighty."
Job is believed to be one of, if not the, earliest written books of the Bible. The Hebrew word chanan (khaw-nan'), 2603, is a primary root, which means it not derived from any other Hebrew word. The word literally means to bend, to favor, to implore. Another definition is to
"be shown favor, consideration" (The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-Aramaic Lexicon).
The word has the idea of a superior bending down to an inferior. It reminds me of the word "grace." God, the Superior, bent or stooped down to man, the inferior, that He might help him. God showed man grace, i.e. the unmerited favor of a Superior bending down to help an inferior. Grace is the Superior giving something to the inferior that he does not deserve.
Even though by the end of the book of Job, Bildad was shown to be wrong in his estimation of Job and his life, he did have a correct understanding of the compassionate nature of God. This leads us to synthesize a new principle: Principle #6.
Principle #6: Jehovah God, as to His nature, is love. He consistently demonstrates His love by being compassionate. In certain instances, His compassion is depicted as grace. He is the Superior bending down to help us, the inferior; He is a gracious God.
Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.'
(Let's move on to the next Hebrew word.)
The Hebrew word rachamani (rakh-maw-nee'), 7362, is used one time and translated `compassionate' in
Lamentations 4:10, "The hands of compassionate women Boiled their own children; They became food for them Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people."
Although this particular Hebrew word is not used of God directly, there is something to learn here about the nature of God. This particular Hebrew word is derived from racham (raw-kham'), 7355, the most frequently used word translated "compassion, compassions or compassionate," and the word most frequently used of God. It speaks of fondling or loving and its usage in this context points out that even the tender women of Jerusalem would boil their own children when Jerusalem is under siege. So, this particular usage of the word points out the tenderness that the word includes. We touched on this tenderness back in principle Number 3, when we stated that in certain instances God's compassion is depicted as a Motherly feeling towards His children. But now let's further highlight this Motherly feeling in
Principle #7: Jehovah God, as to His nature, is love. He consistently demonstrates His love by being compassionate. In certain instances, His compassion is depicted as a motherly feeling toward His children. Two specific manifestations of that Motherly feeling are tenderness and kindness. He is a tender and kind God.
(Let's move on the last Hebrew word.)
The Hebrew word rechem (rekh-ame'), 7359, is used one time and translated `compassions' in
Daniel 2:17-18, "Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends, Hananiah, Mishel and Azariah, about the matter, in order that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon."
This word also comes from the second most used Hebrew word that is translated "compassion, compassions and compassionate," racham (rakh'-am), 7356. It's usage should likewise be cataloged under:
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.
Observation 3.20: Daniel requested Motherly compassion from God evidently on the basis of their sanctification to God. They set themselves apart to God early in the book of Daniel.
We have already observed and learned that God's relative, transitive, temporal compassion is a demonstration of His absolute, intransitive, eternal lovingkindness. We have already observed that both His absolute lovingkindness and compassion are unconditional and cannot be affected by man. But we have also observed that the temporal, transitive, relative, compassion of God is conditional and can be affected by man. One condition that we have already observed is how man deals with sin. That condition is highlighted again here.
We have come to the end of our study of compassion in the Old Testament. We will feast on what we have learned for the rest of our lives. We will take two messages to do nothing more than recap the definitions and nuances of compassion, but for now let us praise Jehovah God for His wonderful demonstration of compassion towards us!
(Now is the day of salvation. Come to Jesus, now!)
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