Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The King is Enthralled by Your Beauty, Part II

When I wrote my last blog, I didn't foresee there would be a second.  I was content in my "revelation" of God's love.  I didn't think there was much more I could add.  And like I do when I finish one blog, I often wonder what my next one will be.  Usually, I wait to blog until I feel compelled to do so by the Spirit.

You can understand my surprise when, during last night's Bible reading, I had another insight into why God loves us so vehemently.  I am currently studying the book of Ezekiel.  I'm a little over halfway through it.  Ezekiel and Jeremiah were contemporaries.  God gave them both to Israel to be His prophets, warning them that they were about to be conquered by the Babylonians as God's judgment against their wicked ways.

Israel's heart had grown "adulterous" as they leaned toward other gods, and they now trusted their idols more than they trusted Yahweh.  In one rather disturbing passage, the Lord God declares in Ezekiel 23:36-39:

The Lord said to me: “Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Declare to them their abominations. For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. With their idols they have committed adultery, and they have even offered up to them for food the children whom they had borne to me. Moreover, this they have done to me: they have defiled my sanctuary on the same day and profaned my Sabbaths. For when they had slaughtered their children in sacrifice to their idols, on the same day they came into my sanctuary to profane it. And behold, this is what they did in my house.

God tells Ezekiel who "Oholah" and "Oholibah" are in verse 4: "Oholah was the name of the elder and Oholibah the name of her sister. They became mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem."

I believe God relates Samaria and Jerusalem to women because the sins they commit are more heinous that way.  The charge of adultery goes much deeper into their hearts in light of God's analogy of unfaithful women.  When seen in this light, they can no longer claim they are blind to their own sin.  But that's beside the point.  Look at what they're doing in the passage above.

They're literally worshipping idols and sacrificing their children to them.  And on the same day they come into the Lord's sanctuary profaning His holy Sabbaths.  This is a seriously shocking sin!  God Himself tells us why He sends the Jews into exile into Babylon in Ezekiel 23:46-49:

For thus says the Lord God: “Bring up a vast host against them, and make them an object of terror and a plunder. And the host shall stone them and cut them down with their swords. They shall kill their sons and their daughters, and burn up their houses. Thus will I put an end to lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not commit lewdness as you have done. And they shall return your lewdness upon you, and you shall bear the penalty for your sinful idolatry, and you shall know that I am the Lord God.”

In order for God to turn Israel back to Himself, He had to break their hearts.  He had to smash their idols into bits, proving they had no power to protect, preserve, or provide.  He had to make known to their hardened hearts there is no God but Yahweh, that He alone holds the power.  To get through their blindness, God had to rip them from their land - the very land He promised to Abraham - to finally open their eyes to their profanity.  God delivered them from Egypt.  God brought them into the Promised Land.  How can it be they are being evicted by the Babylonians?  How can it be anything other than God's punishment for their deeds?

Often, God must break our hearts to get through our pride.  He must bring us low before we'll look up.  There are more people seeking Him at a funeral than a party.  It's just they way the sinful heart works.  When things are going well, we don't need God.  That is, until things aren't going well.  We are such a fickle people.

(Bear with me through this study, I will get to the point eventually.)

Thankfully, the exile of the Jews only lasted 70 years, and their hearts were indeed restored to Yahweh in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.  God even allowed them to build a second temple, which is the one Zerubbabel built, an ancestor of Yeshua of Nazareth. 

After studying all that shocking sin by God's chosen people, I had a deep depression come over me.  I almost wanted to weep with the prophet regarding those child sacrifices.  Was the blood even dry on their garments before they had the audacity to come into the house of God on the very same day they killed their babies?  And people nowadays actually question the character of God for chastening His people in the Old Testament, painting Him to be bloodthirsty and cruel...?  No, His people had hard hearts and a thirst for idolatry.  In order to keep His worship pure and His name holy, He had to time and again smash the idols of the land to prove that only Yahweh reigns On High.

The Hebrews of old were a stubborn people of stony hearts.

It has always interested me that God relates idolatry to adultery and harlotry throughout Scripture.  He uses such harsh language to show us how detestable it is to Him when we worship anything other than the true Creator of all things.  This is such a deep subject that I could go on and on, but I won't.

When I had finished these passages in Ezekiel, I randomly flipped through my Bible just reading here and there, and ended up on the woman in Proverbs 31.  I've studied her before, but with the backdrop of Ezekiel in my head, I read these verses with a new outlook.  One shining jewel caught my eye:

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. ~Proverbs 31:10

And that's when it hit me.  Those who love God are not harlots--they are virtuous.  Those who love God do not commit adultery--they are faithful.  Those who love God are very rare, and He views their worth far above rubies.  I literally teared up.  This is one of those moments when the Spirit opened the Scriptures for me in such a way that I understood what it means to be cherished by God.

Why is He so enthralled by your beauty?  Because He is your One True Love.  Why does one glance from your eye take His breath away?  Because He is the Lover of your soul.  God cherishes those who cherish Him.  It's so simple, a child could understand it.  After millennia of pleading with His people to worship and adore Him, when God finds that one heart after His own heart, He will protect it vehemently, love it unconditionally, and restore it magnificently.

Psalm 145:20 says, "The Lord preserveth all them that love him".

Wow, what a promise.  Our hearts and our love for Him shall be preserved.  He will not let our love die.  Even if we stray, like the Jews of old, He cares too much to leave us in our idolatry.  He will draw us back to Him, no matter what it takes.  

As I close this second study, I want you to really think about the question posed in Proverbs 31:10.  In this world of selfish gain, of abounding idols, and rebellion against God, indeed, who can find a virtuous woman?  Who can find the one who loves God with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength?  This goes far beyond "women" only, as this metaphor isn't limited to gender.  We, as the Body of Christ, are the Bride of Christ, and no one got that analogy better than the Apostles (who were themselves all men).

In Psalm 45:10, it states:
Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear:
forget your people and your father's house,
Notice she hears of Him, she considers Him, she inclines her ear and learns of Him.  Notice she leaves her people and her own father's house for Him (which is reminiscent of Luke 14:26).  In God, she has found all she needs.  In Him, she is complete.  She runs away with Him, without looking back.  Her eyes are upon Him, her heart is turned Godward.  He is her family now.

Finally, we close with the very next verse, Psalm 45:11:
and the king will desire your beauty.
Since he is your lord, bow to him.
Her beauty reflects Him as stated in the previous study, but it also lies in her singular eye toward the King of Glory.  God Almighty desires a virtuous woman.  One who doesn't stray.  One who will honor Him as her LORD.  One who is willing to leave everything behind to adore Him.  He's been crying out for her through the ages, even before time began in the cool of a Garden.  And when He finds her, He esteems her far above rubies.  Why?  Because she is even more rare than they.  A woman who fears the LORD is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30).

She is more valuable to Him than all the stars in the sky.  For while they shine His glory throughout the heavens, they shall each eventually die.  Only the heart of God's virtuous woman can shine with the flame of an eternal love (Songs 8:6).  When put in that light, our bright, vibrant love for the Lord Jesus Christ is the rarest, and most valuable of all His possessions. 

He cherishes us, brethren, likely more than we'll ever know this side of Heaven.  What an amazing eternity we have waiting for us - where locust does not eat and rust does not fade.  Where the arms of Yeshua are open wide, and we will lose ourselves gazing into His tender, loving eyes...forever.


Friday, October 17, 2014

The King is Enthralled by Your Beauty

How is it that God Almighty is enthralled by my beauty?  Don't we all ask that question?  I'm not beautiful.  If He really knew all about me...  Wait, He does know all about me... He saw that thing I did.  He knows my thoughts.  ACK! 

Intellectually, we all know Christ has given us His righteousness.  We now stand justified before God (Romans 8:33, 2 Corinthians 5:21).  However, until we're glorified, we remain sinners.  The Apostle Paul likened our sin nature to a "body of death" (Romans 7:24), and that while our outward man is wasting away, our inward man is renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16).  The great Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, has this to say on the subject:
Every man of God is two men in one.  That new part of him, which is born of God, that new nature which was implanted in regeneration, cannot sin because it is born of God.  It is the incorruptible seed, which lives and abides forever; but, as far as the man is still in the flesh, it is true that "the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be."  The old nature sins through the force of nature; but the new nature sins not, because it is born of God."
It is interesting this life that we live is two natures in one - a life of flesh and a life of Spirit.  Even though we are still in this flesh, we walk by the Spirit.  It is a daily battle of denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Jesus.  The Spirit of God certainly helps us by bestowing mercy and grace in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16) so that we can do all things through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:13). 

While our righteousness in Christ makes us justified before God, I have always struggled with why God sees me as altogether lovely if I am still sinful.  True, He sees Jesus when He looks at me.  The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God (Galatians 2:20).  I have died, and my life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).

What didn't make sense to me is that Christ wouldn't be looking at me, He would be looking at Himself.  So how can I be found beautiful by the Lord if He's just looking at His own accomplishments and righteousness?

But then God clarified His own position on His love for me one day during my prayer time.  I got a sudden understanding of what it means to be loved by God Himself in such a mighty and awesome way.  Yes, God sees Himself in me; our bodies are the temple of God after all (1 Corinthians 3:16), but it's like sunshine through stained glass windows.  Each window is different, from glory to glory, yet it is the same sunshine pouring forth, making each window a breath-taking work of art.  I'm sure you may have heard this analogy before.

Yet the love of God goes even deeper than comparing us to colored panes of glass.  It is not a bad thing that God sees Himself when He is enthralled by our beauty.  Scripture says we are adopted into God's family, that we are now called sons of God (Romans 8:15, 1 John 3:1-2).  Have you ever heard sermons where the pastor talks about the Godhead, and how each member (Father/Son/Spirit) were perfectly loving each other in relationship?  That God didn't need to make us, because He was complete in Himself.  He wanted to create us.

If God loves perfectly within the Godhead, therefore, He loves us by the very same standard, as we have the Spirit of God living within us and we were bought by the cross of Christ.  He cannot deny Himself.  We recognize that God sees Christ when He sees us, but we don't often internalize that God also loves us AS HE LOVES CHRIST. 

Think about this for a moment.  When God made a covenant with Abraham, He swore by Himself, as there is no greater name to swear by (Genesis 22:16-17).  There is no greater Love.  There is no greater Joy.  There is no greater Peace than God Himself.  Therefore, even God enjoys Himself.  The Father delights in the Son.  The Son delights in the Spirit, and the Spirit precedes from both, therefore delighting in both.  And in the same way, the entire Godhead delights in His children through the sacrifice of Christ.

There truly is no greater love than the love God has for Himself.  While this sounds egocentric and vain to the world, if one truly knows that God is meek and humble in heart (Matthew 11:29), then they will know the truth of it. 

While we each live the life of Jesus through our faith in the Son of God, we are each unique, different members of the Body of Christ.  We will never be elevated to God's level of Glory, but we shall one day be glorified, higher than the angels.  Only God Himself will be higher than us in the universe and beyond.  We are now a part of God's family, as high as any created being can possibly go (Ephesians 2:6, Revelation 3:21).  Quite literally, we are united with Christ in God as our Bridegroom. 

The two shall become one flesh.  The Two shall become one Spirit.

This is the measure by which God loves us - He loves us as if we were members of His Godhead.  He is enthralled by our beauty because our Beauty comes from God.  There is no higher beauty.  He loves us because He shines through us, but also, because He painstakingly created the stained glass window that we are.  And while we're sanctified by His Truth here on earth (John 17:17), He is continuing to create us to reflect His image.

Everything in this universe begins and ends with the most glorious Being in existence -- the King of Glory.  And if our glory reflects His Glory, indeed we reflect His Beauty, and in that, we take His breath away.

Praise the Lord!