It wasn’t that they deserved it. Nor that they were going to get their act together and, perhaps, some day deserve it. But it was because of another . . . and the promise made to him . . . that favor was shown to a wayward people. That’s just how my God does things. And this morning, in an ancient record, I encountered a blessed reminder of a current truth.
Now Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz. But the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion on them, and He turned toward them, because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, nor has He cast them from His presence until now. (2Kings 13:22-23 ESV)
Even at the northern kingdom’s best — after Jehu had ridded the land of all of Ahab’s and Jezebel’s descendants and cohorts, and had completely destroyed all vestiges of Baal worship (2Kings 10) — they were still unable to rise above the burden of sin fastened to them by their first king, Jeroboam. Even though king Jehu “wiped out Baal from Israel,” he did not turn aside from the sins woven into the fabric of the northern kingdom when it was formed — “that is, the golden calves that were in Bethel and in Dan” (10:28-29). As such, the king continued to personify the character of the nation and “was not careful to walk in the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart” (10:31).
But the LORD was gracious to them. The great God, whose name they attached to cows fashioned of gold by man’s hand, had compassion on them. The Creator, from whom they had turned away to worship elements of His creation, turned toward them. And all because He had made a promise to Abraham . . . and to his son, Isaac . . . and to his son, Jacob. And though His holy nature would demand that the nation would reap of the seeds of sin they had sown . . . though the correction required to rid a rebellious nation of it’s rebellious nature would be severe . . . He would not destroy, nor would He cast them from His presence.
And while it’s an ancient story concerning an ancient people, the God of that time and place is the same God of this time and place. And I’m moved to worship by this current truth — that God graciously, compassionately, intentionally, and persistently turns His face toward His people, even when they stray, because of a promise made to Another.
He has promised a bride to His Son. A betrothed comprised of sinners saved by grace. Those once held captive by the god of this age, set free from Baal worship through the finished work of the cross. Those once dead in trespasses and sins awakened to new life by the power that raised Christ from the dead. Those once lost and without any eternal identity, found and made into “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession” (1Peter 2:9). Saved through promise . . . sanctified through promise . . . one day to be presented before her Bridegroom “in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27) through promise.
And along the way, we have an enemy who seeks to trip us up. We battle an old nature which tempts us to serve our flesh as god. We wrestle with forces from another world who would talk us captive into darkness. And when we trip up . . . when serve the flesh . . . when we play with darkness, because of God’s promise to Another, He looks upon us with grace . . . calling us back to Himself through His Spirit. He deals with us according to divine compassion, because He knows our frame and the battle that wages within and without. And He turns toward us, drawing our faces back toward His . . . He loves us, that we might love Him . . . He fans the fire that we might burn for Him.
Thank God for this current truth.
All because of grace . . . all for God’s glory.