“For the Lord says to the house of Israel: Seek me and live! Do not seek Bethel or go to Gilgal or journey to Beer-sheba, for Gilgal will certainly go into exile, and Bethel will come to nothing.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever been really angry with someone you loved deeply? Maybe that’s something you’ve experienced recently. I have three elementary-age boys. Sometimes it feels like that’s an almost daily exercise in our house. But when love is the foundation of a relationship, a little anger—or even a lot of anger—poses no existential threat to it. In fact, even when the anger and frustration are at their peak point, there is a gnawing desire to move past the anger and restore the joy of the relationship. In His own amazing love for us, God feels the same way.
It was just one chapter ago that we saw God sarcastically telling the people of Israel to just go on and do their worship at Bethel and Gilgal. He said they should just make their sacrifices and bring their offerings since that’s what they like to do. He was like a father finally throwing his hands up and exclaiming, “Whatever!” to his kids when he’s tired of trying to stop them from doing something they shouldn’t be doing.
Here though, He’s practically begging them not to again. What gives? Why can’t He make up His mind?
It’s not about making up His mind. What we are seeing here is the passion God has for His people. God’s love for us is so great, so deep, so fierce, that He just can’t turn His back on us. He can’t simply tell us to go away and good luck with our lives.
He created us to be in a relationship with Him and He is not going to be satisfied until He has that. Now, it is not a foregone conclusion that this will happen. He is a just and holy God and will not simply let us be with Him if sin is in place in our lives. Nor will He force us to be with Him if we don’t want that. But His love compels Him to do everything within His power to try and woo us back to Him when we are separated from Him.
This was the case for Israel even when their sin was at its most intense levels. Even when they were absolutely incorrigible in their rebellion against Him He kept reaching out, calling out to try and convince them to return to Him, to repent so that their relationship could be restored. He was still ferociously angry at their sin and in almost His next breath He assures them that justice is coming for it, but that’s not the end He wants. He wants relationship.
This was the case for Israel and it’s still the case with you and me. God the Father wants a relationship with you more than just about anything else in the world. God in Christ literally gave His life so that it could be possible. God the Spirit gently calls and woos, revealing Himself in ways that speak right to your heart to convince you to come His way. The whole person of God is committed to the end of you being in a saving relationship with Him.
He hates your sin with a fierce and burning passion. That doesn’t have anything to do with you per se, but rather has everything to do with His radical love for you and the fact that He knows your sin will keep you from Him. And that is simply not something He’s willing to abide if He can possibly help it.
Let me land this thing here: Isn’t a God who is this committed to you worth your time? Isn’t He worthy of your devotion; worthy even of your very life? You know He is. And since you do, what are you waiting for? Accept His offer of life and live.