Monday, March 7, 2011

None Can Pluck; An Awful and Glorious Truth

To be in the hand of God can be a wonderfully secure thing or an exceedingly horrible thing. 

In John 10 we read these encouraging words from Jesus:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. (John 10:27-29 ESV)

Here we see the beauty of being secure in the hand of the Lord.  When God has devoted Himself to securing our redemption there is nothing that can thwart Him.  That is a precious and wonderful promise. 

But there is another aspect to being “in the Lord’s hand”:

Now I will uncover her lewdness
        in the sight of her lovers,
        and no one shall rescue her out of my hand.
(Hosea 2:10 ESV)

I am tempted at this point to highlight the woeful state of what happens when the God of wrath is bent on destruction.  That is the message of Joel; what happens when the Almighty is bent on destruction?  Who can endure His wrath?  Indeed, the answer is no one.  But, I’m not convinced that this would apply here. 

Hosea 2 is fundamentally about the Lord’s plan to root idolatry out of his harlot wife.  I think this “out of my hand” may still hold a glimmer of covenant language.  God will not allow any of her other lovers (Baal) to provide prosperity, hope, peace, security, etc.  All of these are going to come up empty.  Nothing will thwart the Lord’s idol smashing work in his people; his bride. 

So I apply this by saying it is an awful and glorious truth to be secure in the hand of the Lord.  It is glorious because He is good and at His right hand are pleasures evermore (Psalm 16).  But it is an awful truth because He is jealously committed to the purity and fidelity of His bride.  And this doesn’t come about unless He “uncovers our lewdness” and the emptiness of our less-wild lovers is painfully exposed. 

C.S. Lewis is correct:

“In awful and surprising truth, we are the objects of His love.  You asked for a loving God; you have one.  The great spirit you so lightly invoked, the “lord of terrible aspect,” is present; not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, not the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist’s love for his work and despotic as a man’s love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes…It is certainly a burden of glory not only beyond our deserts but also, except in rare moments of grace, beyond our desiring.”  (From A Grief Observed, quoted in How People Change, p24)

You are secure in the hands of the Lord; a precious and awful truth. 

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