Reading through the Bible together

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

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Had God forsaken His people? To many Jews it seemed that way. Their enemies were a constant threat to them, and God had foretold the Jewish exile to a foreign land. The Lord presented before them two legal issues: divorce and slavery (v.1).

God had not, in fact, divorced Judah, in spite of such likely talk around Jerusalem. If that was so, could they produce a certificate of divorce? There was none to be found. Neither had God sold them into slavery, otherwise, where is the creditor that bought her? Judah would be sent away for a time, but this was not a permanent break of their relationship with God. So, the Jews could not claim self-pitying abandonment by the Lord. In fact, the Lord had tried again and again to reach His bride. “Why, when I called, was there none to answer?” He cried (v.2).

God goes on to justify His ability to take care of Judah in verse 2. His hand was not short “that it cannot redeem.” The expression “the hand-that-cannot-reach” related to financial resources (Lev 5:7; 12:8; 14:21), the lack of someone’s inability to pay the price to free a slave. Certainly, the Lord of the universe was well able to support His “wife”, as well as paying the ransom for her.  Hadn’t He done this before when He took His people out of Egypt?

To the question in v. 2 of “Why was there no man?” comes the answer: God’s Servant Jesus would be this man, eagerly waiting to work for the Lord. Morning by morning the Lord woke Jesus, “to awaken [His] ear” as a faithful disciple. It was this morning routine of Spirit-infilling and daily submission, learning to carry on God’s mission in the world, that prepared Jesus to offer “His back to those who” struck Him (Mark 15:15). The Gospels do not record that Jesus’ beard was plucked out at his trial as it says in v. 6, (though it may have happened). The Isaiah text from the Dead Sea Scrolls and also the Greek translation used in the first century employ the word slap instead of pluck. This did happen according to the Gospels (Mark 14:65). Jesus handled anything the devil could think to bring against Him.

For years I taught a university course on the life of Jesus. At about the third week, I challenged my students to try this experiment: for 10 days to ask God to wake them up every morning, like Jesus was, to spend time with Him. At first, many late-night students disbelieved it would be possible to wake up early, without an alarm clock but simply by the Lord’s whisper. To their great amazement, it happened to all those who sincerely desired to spend time with God in the morning.

This was Christ’s great need, and it is ours as well. “Many, even in their seasons of devotion, fail of receiving the blessing of real communion with God. They are in too great haste. With hurried steps they press through the circle of Christ's loving presence, pausing perhaps a moment within the sacred precincts, but not waiting for counsel. They have no time to remain with the divine Teacher. With their burdens they return to their work….[Here is] the secret of strength. They must give themselves time to think, to pray, to wait upon God for a renewal of physical, mental, and spiritual power….Not a pause for a moment in His presence, but personal contact with Christ, to sit down in companionship with Him—this is our need” (Education, pp. 260-261).

Ron E M Clouzet
NAD Evangelism Institute Director,
Professor of Ministry and Theology
Andrews University Seminary