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God’s Strange Method of Pursuit

November 5, 2014 admin

Written by: Dan Stump

I remember back to my dating days. I am not what you would
call a romantic. Poetry doesn’t naturally flow out of me. But when it came time
to win the heart of a girl, I would do whatever it took. When I desired a deep relationship,
love letters and chick flicks were no problem.

Often we think of God wooing us in this same way. There is
definitely some biblical imagery of a God who pours out His love in this way.
That is why I was so surprised as I read Amos 4:6-11. It expanded
my view of how God deals with us. His love is so much more complex than we
think.

Israel had wandered. She was like a girl playing the field.
If you were a girl with many suitors you would expect each of them to pile on
the gifts and compliments. God does the exact opposite here. He starts by
depriving them of food. Next he withholds water. Soon he is destroying their
crops, vineyards, fig and olive trees. Are we surprised that Israel isn’t
returning to Him? Don’t try this in your next relationship!
After that he kills off their horses, sends disease, and has
their young men killed. Finally he overthrows them like He did Sodom and
Gomorrah. Not exactly the way I would expect to be pursued.
The repeated refrain from God is, “Yet you did not return to me.” I took your food, yet you did not
return to me. I took your water yet you did not return to me. I destroyed your
crops, killed your livestock, had your young men killed, and overthrew you
completely, yet you did not return to me.

“I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your
cities, and lack of bread in all your places, yet you did not return to me,”
declares the LORD.

“I also withheld the rain from you when there
were yet three months to the harvest; I would send rain on one city, and send
no rain on another city; one field would have rain, and the field on which it
did not rain would wither; so two or three cities would wander to another city
to drink water, and would not be satisfied; yet you did not return to me,”
declares the LORD.

 “I
struck you with blight and mildew; your many gardens and your vineyards, your
fig trees and your olive trees the locust devoured; yet you did not return to
me,” declares the LORD.

“I sent among you a pestilence after the manner
of Egypt; I killed your young men with the sword, and carried away your horses,
and I made the stench of your camp go up into your nostrils; yet you did not
return to me,” declares the LORD.
“I overthrew some of you, as when God overthrew
Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were as a brand plucked out of the burning; yet you
did not return to me,” declares the LORD. (Amos 4:6-11 ESV)

God was sending them harmful things in order that they might
recognize their waywardness and repent. As things got tough, they were supposed
to cry out to God for help. Instead they continued in their stubborn wandering
ways.
Do we view times of trial as sent from God? Do we see
suffering as an opportunity to turn to Him? Or is our view of God so small that
we think He would never do something like this; never treat us this way? Does
our theology have room for God to love us by sending disease?