The Mystery of Babylon
"They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him and become another man's, shall he return to her again? . . . Yet return again to me, saith the Lord" (Jer.3:1). See Deut.24:1-4.
In days of old, He pleaded with her in His love. His mercy overflowed His just and holy law, which cut them off. But she would not listen to His entreaties. The law is holy and just and good. Under it, they never can be His again. They had joined themselves to other gods; and, as a divorced woman, having become another's wife, could not again become the wife of her first husband, so they also, under the law, could not be His again. So long as law reigns this must be so. But God is higher than the law He gave. He is more than holy, more than just, more than good. God is gracious. And who will set the boundaries of grace?
The husband is head of the wife—he is her lord. Ever since the Eden transgression the daughters of Eve must be subject. But where love reigns—where the husband heeds the charge that bids him love his wife—the stern decree is far from galling; and though it lie hidden in the heart it never need reveal itself in word or look. Happy are those who, knowing Him who so has ordered it, bow not as slaves, but with the pleasant cheerfulness of God's elect.
In the days of her first love, when Egypt hardly had passed from her sight, then He gave forth His law. The authority which He then exercised was fitly shown by the name He took—Baali—He was their Lord. But when He once again restores them to Himself, the law will be implanted in their hearts and impel a willing obedience; love will take the throne and reign—she will no longer call Him Baali then but by the dearer name—Ishi—husband.
But yet again He will invite her to Himself.
"Turn, O back-sliding children, saith the Lord, for I am married unto you;
And I will take you one of a city, and two of a family and I will bring you to Zion:
And I will give you pastors according to mine heart,
Which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land,
In those days, saith the Lord, they shall say no more,
`The ark of the covenant of the Lord:'
Neither shall it come to mind:
Neither shall they remember it;
Neither shall they visit it;
Neither shall that be done any more." (Jer.3:14-16).
While the ten tribes were Lo-ammi, Judah obtained mercy.
"Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them `Ye are not my people,' there it shall be said unto them, `Ye are the sons of the living God'" (Hosea 1:10).
And when He came, in the days of His flesh, He spoke of "other sheep which were not of this fold." And as the chief shepherd, He appoints Peter to feed them. In Peter's pastoral epistle he writes of them, "Which in time past were not a people but are now the `people of God' which `had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy'" (1 Peter 2:10).
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