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CHAPTER 7
 

Is it Love, is it Hate: it is not Fate!

but the love of God when declined, leaves His hatred of sin unmitigated!

Jeremiah 12

 

THE PROBLEM and the TRIAL of Jeremiah

 

THE QUERY OF THE PROPHET

WHY does the way of the wicked prosper ? asks the prophet Jeremiah (12:2).

Speaking of those ostensibly religious primarily, and many such there were and now are, he declares this: "You are near in their mouths, but far from their minds." Now many have God near in their blaspheming, idly cursing and cavorting mouths, almost as a swear-word, and deem themselves sophisticated, blas or superior in view.

As to Jeremiah himself, his is not a merry time, for

"You, O LORD, know me; You have seen me,
and You have tested my heart toward You."

"How long will the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither ?", he queries.

As in many fallen, falling, grossly caricaturing bodies, lands that seek press control by government lest their deeds be disclosed, their dreams be criticised, their answers be not forthcoming, that seek individual cloaking of each person (except perhaps those in Parliament), lest a word against some idol be uttered, some adventitious moral commandment drawn from the unveiled deep should be broken, when other means of protection of citizens are already available, without totalitarian control of truth, without repentance, there is a payment time. There is for such a land, and one hopes Australia may for yet a time, avoid this, though the view looks bleak, a resultant when mercy yields to judgment.

Indeed, various fleecing failures of nations, despising truth and insisting on their humanistic or devilish devices, are of a deep concern: that is now. But it has a precedent. So it was that the land of Israel suffered from false prophets, false kings,  false dealings and faint hearts, that looked not to God, but to their neighbours for support (as in Isaiah 31:1-3).

This ? God seems to imply, this dislocated, disjointed mess in which you dwell, this is merely on the way to its dnouement (Jeremiah 12:5-6). Indeed, to Jeremiah personally He challenges in this way:

"If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you,
then how can you contend with horses ?
And if in the land of peace in which you trusted, they wearied you,
then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan ?"

This He exclaims, probing, thrusting into Jeremiah's saddened and reluctant ears, with the truth.

In other words, the whole place is corrupted, corroded, ideologically invaded, spiritually morbid, morally moribund. "I have forsaken My house, I have left My heritage," the Lord declares. Indeed, there is now nothing less than actual hostility towards Him, a forsaking that however masked, is categorical.

"My heritage is to Me like a lion in the forest;
it cries out against Me: therefore I have hated it."

 

As for the corruptive nations then ranged about Israel, whose idolatries had proved more than Israel at that day could avoid for lack of faith and fidelity towards the God who in love had treated them as His children (Hosea 11ff., Deuteronomy 7:7-19, 4:7-8), they would be exposed, covered with shame; but even they, if they should be willing to follow the Lord, would be restored: restoration is available (Jeremiah 12:14ff.). But as to Israel. In both the cited verses from Hosea and Deuteronomy, the Lord is showing how in His enduring love and undying mercy, He stands ready to restore, and will; and through both prophets, He attests the nearness and the yearning love which is His towards His people, despite their backslidings.

 

THE QUEST OF THE LORD
 

We come now to a great crux:

"My heritage  is to Me like a lion in the forest;
it cries out against Me; therefore I have hated it."

 From the tenderness toward Israel, as to a child being taught to walk, from the intimate nearness - for what at that time, the Lord asked, what nation had such closeness to the Lord!
there comes this aversion to its self-immolation, self-destruction, self-paving of the way to hell.

How then at the day of Jeremiah, can we find this, "therefore I have hated it!" It is certainly not entirely surprising, but it needs understanding.

Before the biblical answer, let us go deeper into the question, by regarding Jeremiah 31:3-9. The words of the AV are used as it makes it clear that the singular is in view, that Israel is being addressed as one.

"The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying,

"Yes, I have loved thee with an everlasting love:
therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel:
thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets,
and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.
Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria:
the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.
For there shall be a day,
that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry,
Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God.

"For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob,
and shout among the chief of the nations:
publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.

"Behold, I will bring them from the north country,
and gather them from the coasts of the earth,
and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child
and her that travaileth with child together:
a great company shall return thither.
They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them:
I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, |
wherein they shall not stumble:
for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn."

It is therefore clear now that God has not just moved from love to hate, as occurs in many a human relationship, for its own part. He has loved this being, this nation, this people, Israel (the case currently in point in this prophetic review in Jeremiah) with an EVERLASTING LOVE. WHEN it becomes consolidated with evil, idols, emptinesses, bribes, corruptions, false prophets, and the coming generation is but fodder for the unbelieving guns that bombard the very heart of the city and the land, then the whole thing becomes hateful. It is as if someone could and did constantly increase the influenza as he lay in bed, by taking drafts of the assailing microbes, and drinking them as if they were orange juiced; but even if they were, they are laced with destruction in the polluted drink.

 

THE NATURE OF THE PROBLEM IN ANCIENT ISRAEL

 

It kills itself;

it thrusts itself far from the Lord;

it invents heresies,

it produces myths, with all solemnity

it assails the minds of its young,

it has become gross in its corruption, just as our own land is now very close to doing, as if trying to copy the folly of ancient Israel. Indeed, it is almost as if it were trying to show how with vast overseas loans, it can cope, while it soaks up rottenness and corrupts as if it had a sheer fixation on it, with almost no limit to its licence and vast, fast movement from the first foundation's God, to any idea of their own choosing. Moreover, this is without sustainable logic, without truth, without apparent care, swaggering with assurance, till the bills remind it where it has gone, at least in this dimension, of the pay for play.

So the disease, the spiritual disease of ancient Israel is not uncommon, and Gentile nations can mimick it very well. There is yet, as there was, a way of truth, and a way of error, and when the latter becomes inventive, invasive, pervasive, then it awaits the "cup of astonishment and desolation" fit for drunkenness, which typifies and images its devastating folly.

"Thou shalt be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, with the cup of astonishment and desolation, with the cup of thy sister Samaria," (Ezekiel 23:33).

 

THE EVERLASTING LOVE

(not everlasting invasion)

Let us however return to our subject in terms of the prophecies TO ancient Israel, both to its short-term doom and long-term deliverance.

Despite the enormities, profanities, corruptions of its pathological posturing and degradation, Jeremiah 31:3-8 nevertheless speaks of the ultimate to the 'married' nation, 'everlasting love'. This message is given more amply in Hosea in its entirety!

LOVE is affirmed to be everlasting towards it. In Zechariah 12, centuries before the predicted crucifixion of the Messiah as in Psalm 22, 69, we learn that a multitude in the land will return to the Lord WHOM they pierced, and in JERUSALEM a fountain for cleansing will be opened (cf. Isaiah 1:16-17, Revelation 7:14). Though whole generations of the NATION lapse, yet it will end well, or as in Paul, be regrafted back into the tree of salvation through faith from which it was taken (Romans 11). In the meantime, let us not forget the apostles who were Jews, and the early Church, which was largely Jewish, and the many Jews who have been outstanding in Christian testimony, though they have carried the nation with them.

The great mystery, Paul exclaims in Romans 11:28-36, the now revealed marvel, is that all, Israel and Gentiles, are condemned, that each in part can return to the Lord, and the Jewish remnant added to the Gentile remnant, those redeemed in the one and the other, become as one in Christ! Then the plan of God for His nation of Israel, source of centuries of prophetic testimony and human basis for the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the only Saviour, only name given for it under heaven (Acts 4:11-12), will be vindicated as also the spread of this self-same spiritual blessing in the two part covenant with Abraham as seen from Genesis 12-22, in various utterances from the Lord, to Abraham and descendants, concerning their race, their place and their international use to bring blessing to all nations.

The love is here our topic. It endures past devastations, past deviations of man, past apparent hopeless ruin; to the end it continues, and what an end (Micah 7, Revelation 7). What then of the hatred noted before the destruction of Jerusalem, and of the burden imposed before their return from Babylon (after 70 years as Jeremiah had correctly predicted - Jeremiah 25) ? and now in their second return (as in Isaiah 11:10-11, and indicated in Luke 21;24). Even in Babylon, the Lord had proclaimed, He would provide, and make a little sanctuary for them.

 

THE SOLUTION PART ONE

 

Ezekiel 11:16-21 with Jeremiah 31:31-34, provides a nascent hope:

"Therefore say, Thus says the Lord GOD:

"Although I have cast them far off among the heathen,
and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come."

Indeed, when the time comes,

"I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them,
and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh...
and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.
But as for those whose hearts follow the desire
for their detestable things,
and their abominations,
I will recompense their deeds on their own heads,
says the Lord God."

There is NO CESSATION to the love of God towards this special people, Israel, which gives an illuminating example, for He is no respecter of persons, though He has His own deep plans of procedure; and His love is statedly of a kind which is everlasting. However, when the nation so

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consolidates with sin and evil,

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trumpeting its defiance and

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tilting back its nose in what are the caricatures of idols,
follies of heart and independence of spirit,
as if it had made the universe, and planned to toy with it,

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making up false pretences of truth like a side-show pretending,
and when it becomes actively evil in nature, 
despising divine mercy, asserting self-assurance:

THEN it becomes odious.

 

THE SOLUTION PART II

 

It corrupts its youth, is unfaithful at the marital level and is virtually a law to itself. It becomes like an aircraft flying all the time, upside down. It does not know it and persecutes those who remind it. It is a hateful corruption, a mocking amusement, a devastating folly and a destructive pre-occupation. It ruins them, and ruins the mercy they themselves reject, so there is nothing but judgment left, and hateful is the odious pretension that goes with the pretence.

Love can discipline (Revelation 3:19, Hebrews 12), and when a cancer comes, it may need painful removal; but if not, it takes out the whole system which can become all but a nest of corruption. Taking this as illustration for comparison, to the spiritual level, the ruin of potential greatness makes the active work to that end a lamentable horror (cf. Jeremiah 9, where he could weep continually, and consider Christ's own weeping as in Luke 19:42ff, and Matthew 23:37ff.).

Often did God offer deliverance,  even spectacular mercy, even to the virtual end (Jeremiah 17); but it was all refused, chewed up in lust or fear or self-regard and self-conceit. The King Zechariah was a prime exhibit and example of such things (cf. Jeremiah 38:14ff.). He was afraid of the mockery or injury which might come from others if he obeyed God, and so refusing the offer of a remarkable mercy, even at that late stage, he inherited instead the place of captivity which duly came to the place, his sons slain before his eyes by the vengeful invading King, before they were put out in his wrath and disdain. This gives impression of motivation, captivation and consequence.

It was as if the whole body became a spiritual cancer, except for a small remnant (Jeremiah 15:11, Isaiah 11:10-11).   There is always this remnant which in the end overflows into abundance! It is sustained by waters which teem down and make furrows and runlets in the soil (Isaiah 32:15, Psalm 65:10, John 4:14, 7:38-39, Isaiah 44:1-7),  as in the heart.

The love towards them and their ultimate welfare focusses on the remnant, as a plant nursery might keep some cuttings of a ruined stock, for replanting. It continues until the entire course of history is closing, and Israel is back in its land and the Lord looks lovingly on it, to defend, protect and even bring large numbers in it to what appears a national conversion of such great  magnitude, than even in Jerusalem is the fountain for cleansing opened (Zechariah 13:1ff.). The everlasting love thus issues in the enduring result. Indeed, there is always this remnant which in the end overflows into abundance! It is sustained by waters which teem down and make furrows and runlets in the soil (Isaiah 32:15, Psalm 65:10, John 4:14, 7:38-39, Isaiah 44:1-7),  as in the heart. The two are ultimately and utterly diverse.

Now we come to our immediate concern. If God is love (as He is), and far from Him is mere muscling in on a prey, why did He say that He hated His heritage in Jeremiah 12:8 ?

The answer is obvious, when the question is put precisely. The more the love, the more the hatred of what destroys the creation, in this case, mankind (very largely as in Genesis 6); and then Israel. Whose hatred ? that of the afflicted nation, the misled people, those inveterate and wallowing in flight from the Lord, from their God, whom they choose not to know.

Alas, when devastation is the only answer to a deafened and disbelieving people, wilfully and continually so, ruining themselves and their world, inveterately, perhaps greedily, even the next generation, even gleefully: then it comes, however long the prolongation in love and mercy. Eventually it is kinder to remove it and purge it before new generations are actively ruined by the bombast and mischiefs of heart that the nation provides, and the evils grow more and more, as if a mutated crop went on  ruining not only itself, but the crops on associated lands, as well.

 

LOVE, FORCE AND FAITHFULNESS

 THE SHORT-CIRCUIT FOR INITIAL WRONG WIRING

 

It becomes a detestable thing, an infection, a folly, a ruin in motion, making more ruin.

Consolidation in this way with the evil, aborting righteousness and delivering sin wilfully and continually and wrong-headedly, becomes a hateful thing, like a plague virus. If you could OPT for a plague, so potentially ruining also your neighbours, it would be a mortally hateful thing; and so it is here, spiritually.

 

LIBERTY, LOVE, FORCE AND GRACE
 

The underlying love of God, like the concern of a doctor during an amputation, does not alter; but the necessity of action is not removed by the enduring love, and the condition becoming hateful, what consolidates with it to the end, becomes part of the disease, and is to be destroyed accordingly. Where love has entry, it enters. Where it simply becomes a mockery, a ground for machination, a site for slander, an opportunity for libel of the Lord, a thing for fun, as real things come to the bloated minds of the possessed, then it does not enter, and there is no place for it, and what has ruined becomes its own ruin, despising the love of God and running into the gloom of the darkness of its removal, incorporating in the same.

Such is the nature of liberty and of love; if it does not force, then the results are not removed by the wilful ignorance of love's remedy. The love is for all and toward all (John 3:16-18), but THIS is the condemnation (John 3:19), that despite the light of the way, provided freely, at vast cost, and lovingly, darkness preferred becomes darkness gained, and this is an anti-God, self-imposed remedy (John 3:36), one that ruins in self-imposed woes.

IF there is any place for it, love is always available in the whole Age of Grace, in which we are now placed. When God is found then the covenant is bound (John 10:9,27-28, Matthew 26:28). Just as God freely plighted a covenant, conditional in elements and areas, but sure to the end with Israel (Genesis 17:7-9), and so had an EVERLASTING LOVE for it (Jer. 31:3-8), so for another special people, to which the remnant of Israel will come, is there an everlasting love - those of the Messiah, the Christians (Romans 5:1-12, 8:35-39I John 5:11-12, John 6:37, Ephesians 1:11, II Timothy 1:8-12), FROM everlasting!

If there is no place for it, however,  then consolidation in evil becomes mere prelude to judgment. If what is deserved is clung to, like a sinking ship, then people will go down with it, like break-up remnants. Hatred is consequential, and of course the case as in all things is foreknown (as in Romans 9), and what is foreknown is sure because it is the truth. NOTHING compromises the love of God, who in Christ showed the people that it was ONLY because they KNEW of His deeds and words, and STILL rejected Him, that they had sin. If this, or its equivalent, had not occurred, then their sins could be purged, and their destiny delightful. But in this nation at that time, the case was otherwise. You do not force a horse to drink, or a soul to be saved.

God WOULD have all to be reconciled; but He is not Himself reconciled to having false love pretend that it is in action, when it is merely a forced push, a delusion which is there, with no reality of love. If love is to be in heaven without cessation or variation, then what is NOT love has no place, and would merely find heaven abhorrent.

 

 A RESULT OF THE SOLUTION 

 

Yes, you can say to  a person, GOD LOVES YOU (for God SO loved the world, and  came not that it be condemned but saved, and one is in the world). This is the generic. Love hopes all things, and this is the basic and underlying background.
 

But whether this love is the end of the matter, or the love is short-circuited becomes a personal question. When the person in view proceeds long enough and far enough into consolidated individual disbelief, what might be called "disfaith", then in the faith-free end, love may be successfully diverted,  and the one involved enters the ranks of discard, all hope of love and reconstruction voided by rejection. Since the divine mercy is passionately seeking (Luke 15), then the rearguard action to divert it, leaves merely this:

"They have no excuse for their sin,"

as Christ said of the informed unbelievers. These were those who would not believe and so would not receive, and so would not be cured (cf. Matthew 13:15). This we read in John 15:22:25. Indeed, in that very site, the divinely inspired comment concerning the matter focusses the HATRED of the people for Christ, on the part of those rejecting Him, which is the noose they prepare for their own necks, while seeking the removal of this Christ (done very slowly and hatefully on the cross); and it declares  this.

But this happened that the word might be fulfilled
which is written in their law,

"They hated Me without a cause,"

as also in Psalm 35:19, 69:4, and reflected in 109:3-5.

Indeed, as Christ declares in John 15:24, in this entrenched dismissal, "they hated both Me and My Father." The alternative ? they would through His redemption received (cf. Matthew 20:28), have "had no sin"! Such is imputation, vicarious deliverance, and redemption.

Love is elemental in God, and force does not eclipse it. In its eventual evacuation, there is only odium, for in Him is its source, as of liberty and truth, which have no other foundation, source or being.

 In God, hatred is not a termination of love but of its applicability, amounting to death, despite divine desire, and an index of state, not of love's originating desire (Isaiah 57:15-16, Matthew 23:37) but in man and others made free spirits, of hate's irresolvable lust.