The Lord’s Controversy With His People

A few years ago, I read through all the prophets on the order they appear in the Bible, over the course of some months. I had thought the prophets were mostly pronouncements of judgement and doom with a few prophecies of Jesus’ coming mixed in.

But my perspective changed as I saw the heart of God for His people in the prophetic books. Everywhere, He is seeking His lost ones. The judgements were intended to draw them back to His heart, not to drive them away. And there were always the promises of restoration, when Israeal would be returned to their homeland from the land of their captivity.

I was so blessed by these threads of mercy that I eventually compiled some of the verses into a collection, tweaked some phrasing, and added some of my own words to connect them.

I just told a friend last night that I don’t usually write long poems. But is this a poem? I can’t decide. I can only pray that the words will bless you.

I. Cry of the Creator

O mountains, hear my controversy,

and you mighty foundations of the earth,

listen as I plead with the one I love:

Though I have bound together and built the sinews of

strength in your arms,

Yet you imagine mischief against me,

strengthening resolve for sin.

Though I have redeemed you out of the land of servants

you have made your hearts as an adamant stone,

hardened against my words.

You are an empty vine,

bringing forth shrivelled fruit for yourself alone,

and your good deeds are as morning clouds

that melt in the heat of day.

Therefore I have given you cleanness of teeth,

the gift of famine to show you your sin;

I have withheld the rain from your fields,

and given you pestilence.

I said, “Surely you will fear Me,

surely you will receive my instruction,

that you may live and be spared from destruction”—

but you do not listen.

Now turn to Me, my beloved,

turn to me with all your heart and with weeping;

rend your heart, and not your garments.

For I am slow to anger,

gracious and merciful, of great kindness,

and willing to repent of the evil I have done to you.

Sow to yourself in righteousness,

and you will reap in mercy;

break up your fallow ground,

the long-neglected soil of your soul—

for it is time for you to seek Me,

to seek me until I come and rain righteousness upon you.

O, my beloved, what shall I do with you?

What have I done to you?

How have I wearied you?

How have I driven you out of my arms?

Return to me, and I will return to you.

Return, my beloved,

return.

II. Faint Answer

Come, and let us return to the Lord:

For He has torn, and He will heal us;

He has struck us, and He alone will bind us up;

He will turn again and have compassion on us.

Though we have fallen, we shall arise;

Though we have sat long in darkness,

The Lord shall be a Light unto us.

III. Assurance of Mercy

The Lord your God has come into your midst,

And He is mighty. He will save,

He will rejoice over you with heaven’s joy,

He will nestle you down in His love,

And joy over you with singing.

And the Lord your God will save you

In that day of repentance and mercy;

He will lead you forth as the flock of His people,

For you shall be as gems in His crown,

Lifted up and honored in the fruitful land.

For how great is His goodness,

And how great is His beauty!

IV. His Promise

“And you shall be mine,” says the Lord of hosts,

In that day when I make up my jewels.

I will spare you,

And to you that fear My name

Shall the Sun of Righteousness arise

With healing in His wings.”

V. Coda

Then they that feared the Lord

and hoped in His Word

Spoke often to one another.

And the Lord turned His ear toward them;

A book of remembrance was written before Him

For them that feared the Lord

And that thought on His name.

And we will walk in the name of the Lord

forever and ever.

Summer Is Coming

The last few weeks have seen the dawn of spring. The snow melted, the sun shone, and birds twittered in budding treetops. After the cold and darkness of winter, who can resist the light of spring? It’s like the Son of God shining into a life, bringing transformation and then growth. The ice of sin melts under the strong light, and birds of praise start singing. Summer looks tantalizingly close.

Then last week, winter came slinking in again. The temperature fell, a raw wind blew, and the clouds scattered snowflakes. Where is the hope of spring now? What do we do when reality hits, when summer seems as distant as the snow-veiled sun?

We look for the signs of spring through the storm. Despite the wind, the air is alive with hope. The sunshine has new strength. No amount of snowflakes can alter the fact that the earth is now in more of a position to embrace the sunshine than it was during the winter. And the birds keep singing.

On Friday, just when I was convinced I was done wearing winter clothes for the season, I woke to a world of snow. That morning it was hard to find traces of spring. The air was cold. Clouds hung low, hiding the eager sun. Even the crows seemed to have gone silent.

But by noon, the sun had conquered the clouds. By two-thirty, the downspouts were singing their drippy music and in places where the snow had been partly cleared away, the ground was thawing.

Everything kept on thawing; the sun kept shining, stronger and stronger.

The last few days, it feels as if summer is almost upon us. The children at school go barefoot and slip in the mud during a game of Get the Sticks, and I’m sweating when I come inside even though I haven’t been wearing a coat. The piles of snow in the corners of the schoolyard are mere gray shadows of their former mountain appearance. The leeks my brothers planted in flats have sprouted.

They say that cool weather is soon creeping back for a few days. There will be clouds that block our view of the sun. There may even be snow.

But I will breathe the transformed air, sing with the birds, and turn toward the sun.

Summer is coming.