Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Judicial Hardening: When God Withdraws His Influences

"But My people did not listen to My voice;
     Israel would not submit to Me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,

     to follow their own counsels."
- Psalm 81:11-12 

This a hard message from God. His covenant people, the visible church, Israel, had become so enamored of her apostasy that God says, to paraphrase, "I wash My hands of you." What a sorrowful message! How could any child survive if a parent said this to him: "You are so evil that I cannot bear to be around you anymore"? Yet, Israel was content with this withdrawal of the God she professed. Why? Because she had resented His interference throughout her history. Read of her complaining after He liberated them from Egypt (e. g., Numbers 11:5). Especially egregious was the creation of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32:1-35).

And now, through Asaph, God tells Israel, "I have had enough." 

There were many judgments on Israel's apostasy. The Book of Judges gives the account of numerous foreign conquests, such as by the Midianites and the Philistines. Yet, each time, Israel repented, and God rescued them. Even greater was the conquest and deportation by the Assyrians in the Eighth Century BC, from which the Northern Kingdom never returned. And then the Southern Kingdom was destroyed and exiled by the Babylonians in the Sixth Century BC. Yet, God brought Judah back. Then the final destruction came in 70 AD, when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. It was nineteen centuries before the Jews returned this time, yet there has been no spiritual restoration. 

Her final restoration will bring Israel, not back to a physical land, but rather to her God. It has been prophesied in Zechariah, especially Zechariah 12:10, and in Romans 11. After almost three thousand years (and counting), Israel and her God will be Groom and Bride again. 

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