The Mystery of Babylon
saith the Lord" (Jer.31-32)
"And she shall respond there as in the days of her youth;
As in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt" (Hosea 2:15b).
LOVE longs for leave to show itself in signal acts and daring deeds of devotion. What ardent lover has not aspired to be the hero of some thrilling scene, to lay his life at his beloved's feet, to put an everlasting seal upon his loyalty?
And so Yahweh won His wife. Egypt's bitter bondage brought forth His might and majesty. With surcharged heart they see the Egyptians upon the seashore and burst forth in song to Him:
Who is like unto Thee! O Yahweh among the mighty ones?
Who is like Thee,
Glorious in holiness,
Fearful in praises,
Thou stretched forth Thy right hand,
The earth swallowed them.
Thou in Thy loving kindness hast led forth
the people whom Thou hast redeemed.
Thou hast guided them in Thy strength
unto Thy holy habitation." (Ex.15:11-13.)
"Ye have seen," said He, "what I did unto the
Egyptians and how I bare you on eagle's wings
and brought you unto myself" (Ex.19:4).
A precious quality pervades all this. His mighty deeds were done in the sight of all--both the Egyptians and His own. He glorified Himself in the sight of all; but for one the path He made proved the path of peace; for the others, it was the way of wrath. Judgment was the background that set off the wonders of His kindness to the Sons of Israel. His arm made bare, revealed His heart.
But He did not send them forth; He brought them--not only out of Egypt; not only into the wilderness--but to Himself.
He had visited them in Egypt; but now He dwelt amongst them. Nor did He dwell at a convenient distance, but in their very midst.
Can we not discover in all this the desire of His heart toward her? What does He seek but her response?
With overflowing heart, she sings:
"I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously.
The horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea.
Yahweh is my strength and song,
And He is become my salvation" (Ex.15:1,2).
O, the fervor of first love! Again and again, in later days, His heart turns back to this. His heart never can rest satisfied with less than this--her first, her fervent love.
"I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth,
the love of thine espousals,
When thou wentest after me in the wilderness
in a land that was not sown" (Jer.2:2).
"Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold thy time was the time of love, and l spread My skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness; yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith Adonai Yahweh; and thou becamest Mine. Then washed I thee with water; yea I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers' skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain upon thy neck. And I put a jewel upon thy nose, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thy head. Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk and broidered work, thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil, and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. And thy renown went forth among the nations for thy beauty; for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith Adonai Yahweh" (Ezek.16:8-14).
How wondrous wise are all of God's dealings! He not only knows all things; but His acts are governed by His knowledge. "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven" (Ecc.3:1). In nature each season is attended with its own peculiar fruits. Man's life is divided into seasons. There is infancy and childhood, and youth. The entrance to maturity is through the door of love. So when Israel was about to come to a mature estate, then was the fit time which He chose to take her to Himself. And then it was that they entered into a mutual covenant and she promised obedience and subjection and He engaged Himself to love and bless her.
What nation was then so great that had statutes and judgments so righteous as the law He gave her? Thus He washed her from the filthiness of the nations round about and gave her a righteousness to put on.
It is the way of love to give. And so He gave her abundantly of all good things. He exalted her in the eyes of the other nations.
All her comeliness was from Himself. Was she weak? He was her strength. Was she sick? He was her Healer. Stiffnecked and crooked? He was her Righteousness.
What more could He have done to draw her to Himself?
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