“All the officers of the priests and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations. And they polluted the house of the LORD that He had made holy in Jerusalem.
The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by His messengers,
because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place.”
2 Chronicles 36:14-15
Reading this passage this morning, verse 15 wove its way into my heart. See the faithfulness of God, captured in these words. Persistently sending messengers to warn His people of the consequences for their rejection of His Law and to implore them to turn back to Him, desiring to pour out compassion and forgiveness upon their repentant return. Wanting to bless His people and the land He had chosen to make His dwelling place.
My mind is drawn to the words spoken through the prophet Hosea, “How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel?…My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender” (Hosea 11:8). This is His heart, broken over hardened and continual rebellion. Tender, compassionate, strong, and powerful love. Our God is just – He will not allow sin to go unchecked and wickedness unpaid for – but He has provided a way for mercy and abundant grace to pour over us. Payment for sin at a very high cost. The death of the One in whom all things hold together, who upholds the very universe by the word of His power (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). Jesus willingly humbled Himself to the point of an agonizing, shameful, and lonely death. So that we could know this love of God. Wrath turned to grace for us, for all who trust in Christ and turn from their prideful sin.
The Lord is pursuing you. And His pursuit never ends. Whatever your story, wherever you are in your relationship with Him, this God of all hope delights for you to draw near to Him; He will draw near to you. He loves us not because we prove ourselves worthy, clean ourselves up enough, or have a history that meets a mark of expectation. No, He loved us first.
Ephesians 5:25-27 paints in beautiful detail the love of Christ for us: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” When Christ gave His life for the church (meaning all who would trust in Him), it was so that we would be made holy and without blemish. It wasn’t that any of us were already that way. And it wasn’t that we would need to prove that we were capable of it.
That’s what He does.
Jesus loved us, so He gave Himself up for us, so that He can purify us wholly. It’s a lifelong process, and while there is work on our part to choose to follow and humble ourselves and endeavor to live a life worthy of our calling and in accordance with His Word – it isn’t done in our own strength. His Spirit is continually hard at work within each one of His own, remaking our character so that we can shine like Jesus and love this broken world. And when we ultimately stand before the throne of our holy God, pure and blameless and beautiful, it will not be a result of our hard work, but the result of our God’s faithfulness to bring His promises to pass. “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
Know today, our God is one of compassion. He sees you; He sees your pain, your fears, your failures, your hopes, your dreams, your joys, your circumstances. And He is not unfeeling, inactive, or doubtful of you. Draw near to Him and allow Him to speak truth into your soul, bolstering your faith and encouraging your heart. If you find yourself trapped in sin, know that if you will come humbly to the throne of grace, you will not hear rejection or condemnation; rather, you will hear these words: “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments” (Zechariah 3:4b).