“But Zion saith, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten, me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands, thy walls are continually before Me.”
It is an overwhelming truth that these words of unspeakable comfort were written many years before they would be of full application. They were written while Zion was safely in Palestine, and the Chaldeans afar off.
But God knows the things that happen from all eternity. And He prepared this word of comfort for Zion when they would be in the hands of their enemies far from Jerusalem and the Holy Temple.
Let me assure you that it was night for Zion when they were taken to Babylon. They were in one word a slave people.
And while there, they bewailed themselves.
And the worst of the situation was that all they could blame was themselves. They had provoked the Holy One of Israel; they had followed after other gods, turning away backwards. God’s prophets were mocked, derided, persecuted and killed. They had forsaken the Lord who alone could help. The measure of their iniquities was full, and then comes the chastisement.
There came the hordes of the Chaldeans, and God gave them the victory. Old and young, sick or well, they were ruthlessly tom from their heritage and driven into the Babylonian captivity, there to sigh and weep for seventy years.
We still have the songs they sang in that sorry estate:
By Babel’s streams we sat and wept,
For memory still to Zion clung;
The winds alone our harp strings swept,
That on the drooping willows hung.
You see, those cruel enemies required of them a song! They said: Come, sing us that tionderful psalm of yours: ‘t Hijgend hert der jacht ontkomen, schreeuwt niet sterker naar ‘t genot van de frissche waterstroomen, dan mijn ziel verlangt naar God!
But how could they do that! You don’t sing Psalter Number 115 in a saloon among the scoffers and drunkards! Although, come to think of it, Jesus sang His song among the murderers on the cross. He sang Number 47. Remember? It begins thus: “My God, My God, I cry to Thee; O why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
But Zion could not do that.
They said: “Not songs but sighs to us belong when Zion’s walls in ruin lie; How shall we sing Jehovah’s song while in an alien land we die?”
In the midst of all their sighing and crying there is the song of the Nightingale: “Sing, O heavens and be joyful O earth and break forth into singing O mountains, for the Lord hath comforted His people and will have mercy upon His afflicted.”
Yes, that is the song of the Nightingale. Do you note that I write it with a capital letter? I should, for I have reference to the Voice of Almighty God. I have reference to the voice of prophecy which Israel had, even there in Babylon. Isaiah had written those words while they were still in the Holy Land. At that time they had not seen the import but now it was of direct application.
And what was the reaction in Babylon?
This: Zion continues to grieve and to mourn.
They said: The Lord has forsaken me, and my Lord bath forgotten me! And they seem to have a good case. They will point out to you that they are nevertheless in Babylon, that they are .a slave people. Moreover, Jerusalem lies waste and the temple is burned with fire. Neither have they anymore the feasts and the Sabbaths or the new moons. There is no regular public worship anymore. They are surrounded by mockers and scoffers. All the day long they hear their bitter words: Where is thy God?
The answer to the wonderful song of the Nightingale is: I am forsaken of my God: He has utterly forgotten about us. In Babylon we are and in this alien land we die. That’s the long and the short of it.
Sighing and crying is heard on every side.
Now of course, it was very foolish of Zion to so conduct themselves. It is foolish to grieve when the Divine Nightingale sings His wonderful song in the night.
Yes, I think that that is the Divine Word of the nightingale. It is the bird that only sings in the night. When God planned creation, He filled it with symbols of Himself and His Kingdom. And the place of the nightingale in nature is to visibly show what God has for His people in the midst of the devils and the wicked. I remember lying awake in the dead of night and listening to his sweet melodies. But that was long ago and far away.
And the refusal to listen spiritually to his wondrous melody of comfort is very foolish.
First, because you make your nights still darker.
Second, because you rob yourself of the only thing that is able to comfort you in your night of misery.
Third, because it is diametrically opposed to reality: God is your God and all is well, no matter where or what. All things work together for good unto those that love God, that are the called according to His good pleasure.
There is really no reason to lament, no, not even in the midst of the devils and the wicked. No, not even in Babylon, far from the Holy land.
And there is plenty proof.
God urges His people to look around. There is abundant proof that God loves them and will love them unto all eternity.
Look at the millions of mothers! Does any one of them ever forsake her child so that she would not have compassion on the son of her womb? Did you ever see that? And it makes no difference whether you look at the God fearing mothers or the wicked mothers: the mothers will fight to the death for their darlings. What mother would not gladly give her life for the son of her womb? Did you ever see the compassion of a woman when her son is deathly ill, and struggling with death? Did you ever hear that groaning cry of anguish of the suffering mother?
And yet, they may forget.
Yes, I chill in my bones, I tremble and shudder at the thought, but there are mothers who forget and forsake their child. Yes, there have been such monsters.
God knows this and therefore He says: “Yea, they may forget!!”
It is not probable, but possible that an earthly mother will forget her sucking child. There is a terrible word in our vocabulary: FOUNDLING!
But . . .
Even if they forget, I will not forget thee!
Beloved! that is the everlasting Gospel of God!
His love and His lovingkindness are eternal, from everlasting to everlasting.
How? and why?
You see, God is not subject to change such as we are.
We change, and then we will point to reasons why we change our love from the object. Even a mother (?) who forsakes her baby will give you reasons for her change of heart.
And we too. I heard of a lover among the show people who simply adored his bride, but after a comparatively short time he threw her through the french windows. At one time they say and sing: “You are Divine, dear!” and the next moment they curse the object of their affection.
He is Jehovah, and there lies all the difference. Jehovah means the Unchangeable. He is the ever present I AM!
In darkest night He remembers His flock.
Not even the streams and billows of sin and corruption that Zion commits can change His lovable heart.
He loved us while we were yet sinners!
And when His righteousness demands satisfaction, He finds the WAY, and the WAY is the Suffering Servant of Jehovah of whom you read in the context of my text. Read Is. 49:1-12. It is all about that Servant who will redeem God’s beloved church from among the Israelites and from the Gentiles. Read it. And His full image will be revealed a few chapters later in the same prophecy of Isaiah 53.
No, God never forsakes or forgets His people. Already in chapter 40 He had commanded His prophet to enunciate that comfort, saying, Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem and cry unto her: that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned for she bath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
When we love, we have an image of the loved one; first in the heart, and then also in a picture, snapshot, photograph, statuary, painting, anything. And according as we love, we yearn to have the image as close to us as possible. I heard during the war that some girls slept with the picture of their beloved under their pillow. You should never laugh at that. It’s beautiful.
Well, God has also your image with Him. The image of Zion is graven upon the palms of His hand.
No, beloved, be assured, that image is not as you are now in your sins and corruption, your iniquity and filth. We loathe our image as poor miserable sinners.
But God has your image as He conceived of you from all eternity.
And you are grouped about the Image of His dear Son. Jesus Christ is in the very center of God’s hand, and Zion is grouped about that Son. And even though there is a great variety of beauty among God’s children so that no two are alike, yet, all of Zion look like Jesus.
Paul speaks of that when through the Holy Ghosts he reveals that “whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the IMAGES of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brethren,” Rom. 8:29
Now then, God looks continually at that image of Zion, and conforms us all to the Image of His Son.
And the day will come that we all shall look like Jesus Christ, as His Bride, without spot or wrinkle.
Listen beloved, listen to the song of nightingale in all your night of misery and darkness. Jehovah always re members you!