Call Upon The Name Of The Lord

I have noticed recently a trend among the hip christians who like to have endless theological discussions on Facebook, this trend is demonstrated by the comment
“I couldn’t love the God of the Old Testament (hereafter OT), He is a murderer and He seems to delight in torturing people.”
This comment and many others like it reveal something about the people who make them. They have a thorough lack of understanding of the God of the OT.
In the OT God is sovereign, God is feared, and most of all God is right.

One of the effects of the fall and subsequent removal of Adam and Eve from the garden is an irrational fear of God. They hid out of fear from the very person they had been walking with just the evening before. With their act of rebellion they slipped from knowing God with certainty, to knowing that they were grossly imperfect and that God could destroy them, therefore they no longer believed in God’s demonstrated love toward them, they foundered on the rocks of fear and doubt, they even doubted that God had told them the truth, and they became strangers to the one who loved them most. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit they left God, not the other way around. When they fell Adam and Eve were no longer equipped to live in the presence of God. By listening to and believing the serpent, and turning their backs on the Lord, they had made their decision. So they had to be evicted from the garden.

This is a matter of putting another being before God, believing the words of another over God’s words. they listened to the serpent and believed the serpent’s lies over all that God had told them. There are some very interesting places in the OT where God could have taken another tack with us. One of those is in Genesis. If Adam had thrown Himself on the Lord’s mercy and confessed, things would have turned out rather differently for them. But he didn’t confess, he lied and blamed his wife and she blamed the serpent, and this is why I underscore the point that Adam and Eve left God not the other way around. They could have asked Him for and received forgiveness.

This becomes even more apparent when you read the chat that the Lord has with Cain, now the occasion was that Cain and Abel had each brought offerings to the Lord Cain of his harvest for he was a farmer, and Abel of his flocks for he was a shepherd. God favored Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s. Now it is obvious from the context that Cain and God had quite a conversation, so it is evident that Cain was able to hear God. It also shows that God was interested in helping Cain. The problem was not that Cain did not believe in God, he did believe and he conversed with Him. The problem was that Cain insisted that God regard his offering with equal favor to that of Abel. Cain wanted to tell God what to do and he sought to force God’s hand by murdering his competition for God’s favor. This is obviously an evil attitude. And after the murder did Cain ask for forgiveness? No way dude, he just spent a half a chapter bewailing his cursed situation. We would call it crying in his beer.

Then a little later, God brings our attention to something new which was happening He introduces us to Enoch and he talks about how Enoch walked with the Lord for 300 years and then God took him.
Now in the world which Genesis unfolds for us which is becoming increasingly rebellious, wicked and willful, God brings us the story of someone who knew Him and walked with Him. Someone who had a close relationship with Him, and shortly afterward God judges the earth and it’s inhabitants and destroys them. But standing on it’s own, in glaring contrast to that judgement, is the treatment He gave to the man who knew Him, who walked with Him. God received Enoch to Himself, He preserved Enoch’s righteous offspring Noah and his family and He disposed of the wicked ones.

When I was a kid I read about the Nuremberg trials for the Nazi war crimes and later the capture of Adolf Eichmann, I remember that for the worst crimes against humanity imagineable there was only hanging as an option. If human courts and human judges can only think of swift execution as the penalty for unbelievable evil and that is considered just, then don’t you understand that God who knows every motive and evil deed is certainly entitled to do with us as He sees fit.

Now I don’t know about you, but instead of playing at being God by judging God I think I would like to understand what the narrative is telling me. It is saying that if I walk with God like Enoch did, and indeed Adam and Eve before the fall, if I get to know God, then God will preserve me and take me into His own care, and not only that but He will walk and talk with me as a friend, but if I turn my back on Him, pursue my own selfish interests and try to hang labels on God and judge the righteous judge (as did Cain and the pharisees) He will declare that He does not know me and He will cast me out.

Time after time in the OT we find God expounding upon and often mourning His loss of relationship with His people, from the high poetry of David, to the amazing pronouncements of Isaiah, to the tearful pleadings of Jeremiah. Again, again, and again God calls His own into deeper relationship, a call which was largely ignored. Again and yet again He puts the most important messages for Israel and Judah in strictly relational terms. If His people sought Him and walked humbly with Him, He would preserve, and cherish them, as a husband would his wife, but if they were unfaithful to Him and worshipped idols he would turn His back on them and destruction would surely follow.

So finally we come to this, the most amazing declaration from the “angry” God of the OT hidden in the middle of one of the most legalistic of the books of the law.

“1  “When the time arrives that all these things have come upon you, both the blessing and the curse which I have presented to you; and you are there among the nations to which ADONAI your God has driven you; then, at last, you will start thinking about what has happened to you;  2  and you will return to ADONAI your God and pay attention to what he has said, which will be exactly what I am ordering you to do today – you and your children, with all your heart and all your being.  3  At that point, ADONAI your God will reverse your exile and show you mercy; he will return and gather you from all the peoples to which ADONAI your God scattered you.  4  If one of yours was scattered to the far end of the sky, ADONAI your God will gather you even from there; he will go there and get you.  5  ADONAI your God will bring you back into the land your ancestors possessed, and you will possess it; he will make you prosper there, and you will become even more numerous than your ancestors.  6  Then ADONAI your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your children, so that you will love ADONAI your God with all your heart and all your being, and thus you will live.”

Deuteronomy 30:1-6 The Complete Jewish Bible

Can’t you see He is saying when you return to Me I will return to you, but the message is actually much deeper than that, He means, when you return to Me I will be there for I did not leave you, it is you who left Me.

This is the very same message Jesus brought to Judah in His day,
Jesus said
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
Matthew 23:37 NKJV

Jesus said
10″For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Luke 19:10 NASB

Jesus said
39 “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!
40 Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.
John 5:39-40 NLT

Jesus said
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8 NKJV

God’s message of relationship has never changed. It is and always has been God who has come after us.
Do not be deceived, we are not going to suddenly get up one day and heroically thrash through the impassible jungle to find Him. Not even close!
He is standing next to you waiting for you to respond to Him. He is closer than you think. He is closer than your next breath. And it was the same for the people of the OT it’s just that the Messiah had not yet come.

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8 Comments on “Call Upon The Name Of The Lord”

  1. Pointeshoe.net Says:

    What an absolutely amazing post. It never occurred to me that Adam and Eve could have asked for and received forgiveness. If people only knew how much God wants to bless us……

    • Nathan Says:

      How right you are Pointshoe!
      Your comment has given me a chance to include another startling instance of God’s mercy in the OT, Thanks!

      10 This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.
      11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
      12 In those days when you pray, I will listen.
      13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
      14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”
      Jeremiah 29:10-14 NLT

      Bless you Pointshoe!

      Nathan


  2. This is great, Nathan. And it goes along with what God told me just a few days ago. I was reading my new NT and the translation notes explained that the word translated forgiveness (somewhere at the end of Matthew) actually meant cancellation. That our sins weren’t just forgiven; they were canceled. Thrown out of court. This struck me and so I asked God about it.

    He said that we went out from Him and became polluted, so that He couldn’t take us back into Himself. But when we are born anew in Jesus, we are, literally, new. The old stuff — it has nothing to do with us any longer. It never happened because we are no longer that person. Yes, in the natural we still have it to deal with, but God doesn’t look at us as a shamed person. He really does see us as pure, undefiled, absolutely new — Because we ARE.

    And of course the OT saints were cleansed in advance looking forward to the cross. Time doesn’t mean a lot to God. Isn’t He wonderful?

    Blessings, Cindy

    • Nathan Says:

      You bet He is wonderful,
      Yes indeed, He really doesn’t look at us the way we imagine because He has dealt with the whole sin thing already and usually we are still begging for mercy while He has already dealt with it. That’s something you don’t always hear at “church”.
      Time just isn’t a big deal for Him. Sometimes I ask Him about something and He says “soon” but of course that is His “soon” and I have to be patient, because we are not in the same time frame. I am looking forward to seeing time from the eternal side.

      Nathan

  3. Chris Atkinson Says:

    Hey Nathan

    Great article bro..If only people knew Fathers heart for them..As you rightly say:

    This is the very same message Jesus brought to Judah in His day,
    Jesus said
    “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

    Living Loved
    Chris

    • Nathan Says:

      Yes Chris and thanks, it is sad that people shy away from learning about Jesus and the Father’s love, but the enemy has done quite a public relations campaign these two thousand years. It could be argued that the fullness of His grace was not extremely easy to see in the OT, but it was certainly there and there were many instances of it. But that idea fell into fragments after the cross. The cross was the public announcement of what the Father intended all along. Lots of people have never dreamed He would accept them and love them and sadly too many churches do not carry the message to them. So it is the light He places in this world, that would be you and me and our brothers and sisters, that they must see. Let it shine.

  4. Rachel Says:

    Hi Nathan – some great thoughts in here. I agree it is interesting about the forgiveness part in Adam and Eve – for how could there be forgivness without Christ;s sacrifice? Yet you see it throughout the OT -but you understand how when you read Revelation 13:8 “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” — He was slain from the foundation of the world. His coming was a manifestation of what was already done – so we would know Him, know our redeemer.

    I see God’s love all over the Bible – New and Old – I think if you asked those people – most haven’t really spent time seeking to know God as He is – because they would find Him much different than the world at large projects.

    Rachel

    • Nathan Says:

      Thank you Rachel,

      That’s a good point about Revelation 3:18. An awful lot of the stuff people discuss is really just off the tops of their heads, there is very little deep discussion on the internet, but of course as you have observed it corresponds with the lack of a deep relationship with God in far too many “Christians” lives. I am certainly with you on that. If we are called at all, we are called to a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus.
      We are not called to a life of intense theological debates. I do not see how chewing and re-chewing old arguments achieves anything. Thank God that is not all there is to a relationship with Him. Thank Him and praise Him that we can truly get to know Him.

      Blessings
      Nathan


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