‘So will I also be for You.’ (Hosea 3:3)
[in this context, the prophet Hosea’s acceptance and forgiveness of his unfaithful wife is a providential picture of God’s redemptive love for His wayward people.]
The typical promise, ‘You shalt abide for Me many days,’ is indeed a marvel of love. For it is given to the most undeserving, described under the strongest possible figure of utter worthlessness and treacherousness,–the woman beloved, yet an adulteress.
The depth of the abyss shows the length of the line that has fathomed it, yet only the length of the line reveals the real depth of the abyss. The sin shows the love, and the love reveals the sin. The Bible has few words more touching, though seldom quoted, than those just preceding this wonderful promise: ‘The love of the Lord toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.’ Put that into the personal application which no doubt underlies it, and say, ‘The love of the Lord toward me, who have looked away from Him, with wandering, faithless eyes, to other helps and hopes, and have loved earthly joys and sought earthly gratifications,–the love of the Lord toward even me!’ And then hear Him saying in the next verse, ‘So I bought her to Me;’ stooping to do that in His unspeakable condescension of love, not with the typical silver and barley, but with the precious blood of Christ. Then, having thus loved us, and rescued us, and bought us with a price indeed, He says, still under the same figure, ‘You shalt abide for Me many days.’
This is both a command and a pledge. But the very pledge implies our past unfaithfulness, and the proved need of even our own part being undertaken by the ever patient Lord. He Himself has to guarantee our faithfulness, because there is no other hope of our continuing faithful. Well may such love win our full and glad surrender, and such a promise win our happy and confident trust!
But He says more. He says, ‘So will I also be for you!’ And this seems an even greater marvel of love, as we observe how He meets every detail of our consecration with this wonderful word.
1. His Life ‘for you!‘ ‘The Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep.’ Oh, wonderful gift! not promised, but given; not to friends, but to enemies. Given without condition, without reserve, without return. Himself unknown and unloved, His gift unsought and unasked, He gave His life for you; a more than royal bounty-the greatest gift that Deity could devise. Oh, grandeur of love! ‘I lay down My life for the sheep!’ And we for whom He gave it have held back, and hesitated to give our lives, not even for Him (He has not asked us to do that), but to Him! But that is past, and He has tenderly pardoned the unloving, ungrateful reserve, and has graciously accepted the poor little fleeting breath and speck of dust which was all we had to offer. And now His precious death and His glorious life are all ‘for you.’
2. His Eternity ‘for you.‘ All we can ask Him to take are days and moments-the little span given us as it is given, and of this only the present in deed and the future in will. As for the past, in so far as we did not give it to Him, it is too late; we can never give it now! But His past was given to us, though ours was not given to Him. Oh, what a tremendous debt does this show us!
Away back in the dim depths of past eternity, ‘or ever the earth and the world were made,’ His divine existence in the bosom of His Father was all ‘for you,’ purposing and planning ‘for you,’ receiving and holding the promise of eternal life ‘for you.’
Then the thirty-three years among sinners on this sinful earth: do we think enough of the slowly-wearing days and nights, the heavy-footed hours, the never-hastening minutes, that went to make up those thirty-three years of trial and humiliation? We all know how slowly time passes when suffering and sorrow are near, and there is no reason to suppose that our Master was exempted from this part of our infirmities.
Then His present is ‘for you.’ Even now He ‘lives to make intercession;’ even now He ‘thinks upon me;’ even now He ‘knows,’ He ‘cares,’ He ‘loves.’
Then, only to think that His whole eternity will be ‘for you!’ Millions of ages of unfoldings of all His love, and of ever new declarings of His Father’s name to His brethren. Think of it! and can we ever hesitate to give all our poor little hours to His service?
3. His Hands ‘for you.‘ Literal hands; literally pierced, when the whole weight of His quivering frame hung from their torn muscles and bared nerves; literally uplifted in parting blessing. Consecrated, priestly hands; ‘filled’ hands (Ex. 28:41, 29:9, etc.,)-filled once with His great offering, and now with gifts and blessings ‘for you.’ Tender hands, touching and healing, lifting and leading with gentlest care. Strong hands, upholding and defending. Open hands, filling with good and satisfying desire (Ps. 104:28, and 145:16). Faithful hands, restraining and sustaining. ‘His left hand is under my head, and His right hand does embrace me.’
4. His Feet ‘for you.‘ They were weary very often, they were wounded and bleeding once. They made clear footprints as He went about doing good, and as He went up to Jerusalem to suffer; and these ‘blessed steps of His most holy life,’ both as substitution and example, were ‘for you.’ Our place of waiting and learning, of resting and loving, is at His feet. And still those ‘blessed feet’ are and shall be ‘for you,’ until He comes again to receive us unto Himself, until and when the word is fulfilled, ‘They shall walk with Me in white.’
5. His Voice ‘for you.‘ The ‘Voice of my beloved that knocks,’ saying, ‘Open to me, my sister, my love;’ the Voice that His sheep ‘hear’ and ‘know,’ and that calls out the fervent response, ‘Master, say on!’ This is not all. It was the literal voice of the Lord Jesus which uttered that one echoless cry of desolation on the Cross ‘for you,’ and it will be His own literal voice which will say, ‘Come, you blessed!’ to you. And that same tender and ‘glorious Voice’ has literally sung and will sing ‘for you.’ I think He consecrated song for us, and made it a sweet and sacred thing for ever, when He Himself ‘sang an hymn,’ the very last thing before He went forth to consecrate suffering for us. That was not His last song. ‘The Lord thy God … will joy over you with singing.’ And the time is coming when He will not only sing ‘for you’ or ‘over you,’ but with you. He says He will! ‘In the midst of the church will I sing praise unto You.’ Now what a magnificent glimpse of joy this is! ‘Jesus Himself leading the praises of His brethren,’ and we ourselves singing not merely in such a chorus, but with such a leader! If ‘singing for Jesus’ is such delight here, what will this ‘singing with Jesus’ be? Surely song may well be a holy thing to us henceforth.
6. His Lips ‘for you.‘ Perhaps there is no part of our consecration which it is so difficult practically to realize, and in which it is, therefore, so needful to recollect?-‘I also for you.’ It is often helpful to read straight through one or more of the Gospels with a special thought on our mind, and see how much bears upon it. When we read one through with this thought-‘His lips for me!’-wondering, verse by verse, at the grace which was poured into them, and the gracious words which fell from them, wondering more and more at the cumulative force and infinite wealth of tenderness and power and wisdom and love flowing from them, we cannot but desire that our lips and all the fruit of them should be wholly for Him. ‘For you’ they were opened in blessing; ‘for you’ they were closed when He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And whether teaching, warning, counsel, comfort, or encouragement, commandments in whose keeping there is a great reward, or promises which exceed all we ask or think-all the precious fruit of His lips is ‘for you,’ really and truly meant ‘for you.’
7. His Wealth ‘for you.‘ ‘Though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be made rich.’ Yes, ‘through His poverty’ the unsearchable riches of Christ are ‘for you.’ Seven-fold riches are mentioned; and these are no unminted treasure or sealed reserve, but all ready coined for our use, and stamped with His own image and superscription, and poured freely into the hand of faith. The mere list is wonderful. ‘Riches of goodness,’ ‘riches of forbearance and long-suffering,’ ‘riches both of wisdom and knowledge,’ ‘riches of mercy,’ ‘exceeding riches of grace,’ and ‘riches of glory.’ And His own Word says, ‘All are yours!’ Glance on in faith, and think of eternity flowing on and on beyond the mightiest sweep of imagination, and realize that all ‘His riches in glory’ and ‘the riches of His glory’ are and shall be ‘for you!’ In view of this, shall we care to reserve anything that rust doth corrupt for ourselves?
8. His ‘treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ ‘for you.‘ First, used for our behalf and benefit. Why did He expend such immeasurable might of mind upon a world which is to be burnt up, but that He would fit it perfectly to be, not the home, but the school of His children? The infinity of His skill is such that the most powerful intellects find a lifetime too short to penetrate a little way into a few secrets of some one small department of His working. If we turn to Providence, it is quite enough to take only one’s own life, and look at it microscopically and telescopically, and marvel at the treasures of wisdom lavished upon its details, ordering and shaping and fitting the tiny confused bits into the true mosaic which He means it to be. Many a little thing in our lives reveals the same Mind which, according to a well-known and very beautiful illustration, adjusted a perfect proportion in the delicate hinges of the snowdrop and the droop of its bell, with the mass of the globe and the force of gravitation. How kind we think it if a very talented friend spends a little of his thought and power of mind in teaching us or planning for us! Have we been grateful for the infinite thought and wisdom which our Lord has expended upon us and our creation, preservation, and redemption?
Part 1 of 2
Havergal, Frances Ridley (1836-1879). From Kept for the Master’s Use, ch. 13: “Christ for Us”