Continued from part one...click here.
How come God allowed this crushing blow of the enemy? How come He didn't step in and save them? How come He didn't work His Spirit into them? Because He didn't want to override the choice that they had made. Notice the cry of the prophets in the old testament. It was always in the form of a warning. A warning telling the people to cry out and turn back before they are crushed by the enemy. Unfortunately the ravishing and deception had taken it's toll and they choose not to turn back. They kept sinning and self destructing. This led to the crushing blow and devastation of the enemy. Bondage ensued.
The Israelites were in Egypt nearly 350 years before they cried out to God for deliverance. They were in Babylon 70 years. Listen to the warning of Hosea prior to the exile in Babylon.
"I long to redeem them but they speak lies against me. They do not cry out to me from their hearts but wail upon their beds." Hosea 7:13-14
Even after God had responded to the cries from Egypt they were so broken they didn't believe it.
"Moses reported this [deliverance] to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage." Exodus 6:9
They had completely lost their identity. I can hear people saying "Nope. This is just who I am. This is my life now. I guess this was meant to be. I'm just a sinner." Lie from the pit of hell! God created you with loving intention and good purpose from His image. If you choose to cry out God He will be faithful to bring you back to that good purpose. But we like the Israelites trade this truth for a lie.
"But they will reply 'there is no hope': but we will walk after our own devices, and we will everyone do the imagination of his evil heart." Jeremiah 18:12
See how the crown of God's creation now in fact thought they were evil. The oppression had totally robbed their identity. Again the Hebrew word for evil is 'ra; which simply means bad or dysfunctional as was discussed in the prior post. The Hebrew word for imagination in this verse is sheriruth meaning stubborn. It is from the root word sharar in the sense of twisted. This Hebrew word is also sometimes translated as the word lust. See it is a twisting of reality, a lie. Their heart is not evil just as lust is not love.
But the choice of the people usually swayed the response from God to the situation. When they did not choose to repent he would hand them over to the enemy.
"So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices." Psalm 81:12
But at the same time God would always leave the door of hope open. He always gave the option to return to Him and the identity that He had created.
"...remove all it's vile images and detestable idols. I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove the stony heart out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 11:18b-19
So what was to become of this virgin who had been ravished and deceived? This people who had lost their identity. This people who were broken and in bondage. This people that were now giving themselves to prostitution. They repented and turned back to God. God forgave them and comforted them. That was the first step to a process of healing. In the next step God called to rebuild the foundation and walls, rebuild the temple, rebuild the intimacy. In the book of Nehemiah they rebuild the wall. In Ezra they rebuild the temple. Isaiah calls for all those things.
"Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and raise the age old foundations." Isaiah 58:12
Countless times in the old testament God calls people to "Be holy, for I am Holy", "Seek righteousness", "Follow my laws, decrees and celebrations." Other times He says "Choose this day whom you will serve." or "Choose life." In this process of healing God comforts, gives hope and teaches righteousness. Moreover He takes this broken, blemished prostitute and make her clean and married.
"No longer will they call you deserted or name your land desolate...for the Lord will delight in you, and your land will be married." Hosea 2:15
"In that day you will call me 'my husband' you will no longer call me 'my master'...I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion." Hosea 2:18-19
Remember that it takes a long time to recover from abuse. It takes the support of God and others. It takes a daily renewing of the mind, heart and spirit. The Israelites were in the wilderness 40 years trying to work through the damage bondage in Egypt had caused. They were no longer in Egypt but still had the oppressed identity that had formed there. Heck some of them even wanted to go back. They didn't know how to live free of bondage. Like a battered wife returning to her husband. Like Stockholm Syndrome where the person taken hostage falls in love with the captor. Their vessel was shattered. That vessel had to be rebuilt before God could fill it. This is why the time in the desert learning the law and sacrifice was so intense. They were on house arrest and in rehabilitation all at the same time.
The point to remember is that no one is a lost cause. God did not ask them to do anything He didn't think they could achieve. Why? Because God is a loving God. Now I am not saying that anyone could perfect the law. No man could do that. But when God was telling them "Be holy for I am Holy" He meant it. But how could He have such high expectations for man? Because man was created in the holy image of God. He gave man an image of His mind, of His heart and of His spirit. He created man out of love with good intention and for good purpose. So when he called man to be holy what He was really saying was "Be who I created you to be!"
What I hope you take from these last couple of blogs is a new sense of identity. God took special care in creating you. You are not a mistake. You are not wicked or evil. You are not beyond repair. Yes we all make mistakes but no one needs to be in bondage. Don't take on the dysfunctional identity of sin and the devil. Don't believe the lies that he tells you. Repent and be comforted by God. Then start on the road to healing. There is hope! You can't be worse than the Israelites with houses full of idols, the temple of God defiled with worship to other gods. Sacrificing their children to Molech and then having orgies with the temple prostitutes in the sacricifial blood. And if you are in fact that mixed up there is still hope for you because there was hope for the Israelites.
We are even better off than the Israelites! We have the benefit of Jesus and the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. There was neither of these things in the old testament. They had to sacrifice and follow the law only by command of the Lord and their own volition. It was this way until the time Jesus came. Jesus came as the atoning sacrifice for all mankind. He came to bind up the broken hearted and to set the captives in bondage free. The Holy Spirit was sent to comfort, give grace and power. To give us supernatural power to overcome the schemes of the enemy and resist temptation to sin.
"For what the law could not do, in that it was weak though the flesh, God did by sending His son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin. And so condemned sin in the flesh." Romans 8:3
Now we have a vessel that has not only been repaired but made new. We have a vessel that can be permanently filled and fortified with the Holy Spirit. This doesn't make us impervious to temptation. But it should give you a new start. A new identity. You are a new creature created in the image of God, washed clean in the blood of Jesus and fortified by the Spirit. Stay on track to renew your mind, heart, and spirit. Seek the will of God, seek righteousness and be free. This is your starting point. Everything doesn't happen instantaneously it's a process. But I will tell you you will NEVER be free from bondage if you keep the identity of a sinner. You must start with the foundation of freedom. Don't settle for anything less. Don't believe the lie that "this is just who I am and that's that." I believe that when Jesus said He was the way, the truth and the life that it was two fold. Like this...
WAY- 1}the way we should follow here on earth; Jesus. 2}the way to the Father in heaven.
TRUTH- 1} the truth of who God is. 2} the truth of who you were created to be.
LIFE- 1}victory on earth over sin. 2}victory over death; that is eternal life.
Use this as your guide. Be patient and press on toward the goal of fullness and intimacy with Christ. I will be spending some more time on this subject in regards to what the new testament says. Specifically exploring the concept of the flesh and the Spirit. Also discussing some of my own bondage and how I got through it. So stay posted.