“Is there no balm in Gilead?” The lament falls from the lips of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 8:22). The inquisition begs a solution to the immeasurable suffering taking place in a broken nation–Judah. Suffering which in part was invited by the willful, extended rejection of God’s will. The Weeping Prophet laments how the Daughter of his people is broken.
The nation of Judah has long practiced evil before the Lord, has long denied the sovereign rule over her, and she has become complacent with her sin. God has pronounced the fate to fall upon her, one in which Babylon would rule over her for a period of 70 years. She would be owned and dominated by another, another who would not be quite so compassionate as her Shepherd God. And so, Jeremiah pleas for a supernatural healing to sooth the pain of such a future.
Gilead was a town to the East of the Jordan, and known for the manufacture of spices and ointments. The salve which had gained them notoriety was one with healing properties. Obviously, this metaphorical balm sought by Jeremiah was one which addressed maladies on a much deeper level, the spiritual kind.
When the Law of the Lord is the law of the people, it is a good thing. When the statutes of the Lord, and the commands of the Lord govern the land, it is a very good thing. But when the Truth of the Lord is contorted, neglected or denied, doom is in the offing. Sadly, the nature of man is to eventually set themselves in opposition to the goodness of the Lord, and that bears consequences.
When God deliberately withdraws His grace and mercy, protection and care, even the divine presence from an individual’s life, or a people group who engage in deliberate and prolonged disobedience or rejection of God’s will, it is known as divine abandonment.
God imposes this lot upon both Israel and Judah for their rejection of His commands. Paul subjects the wayward church member in 1 Corinthians 5 to this condition (and to expulsion from the Church), and God the Father imposes this removal of relationship (in some mysterious way) upon His Son upon the Cross.
This abandonment can be earthly, or temporal, and it can be eternal, as in the eternal conscious punishment in the absence of the Lord. When it is temporal, the Lord is at work to allow the individual, or group to experience the fruit of their ways, to walk in the chaos of their lives. The desire, from a divine perspective is that they would come to an understanding of the error of their ways and return to a right relationship with Him.
God cannot look favorably upon sin, nor can He continually foster one’s rejection of Divine truth… at times He subjects the errant party to walk that journey alone, to discover life in the continued assaults of the enemy.
Just how long the Lord will tarry for the repentance of any party is up to His divine graces. To put it bluntly, when He has had enough, He has had enough. Contrary to the pithy saying, His grace does know bounds.
I am of the opinion that these United States have reached, and perhaps well-exceeded the time allotment for disobedience and rejection of God. We have pulled Him out of our courts, schools, and culture. We have denied His hand in Creation and Life, and we continue with vengeance to ravage His good order; in the lives of the unborn, in gender identity, and in the very clear plan of marriage, between one man and one woman.
I am not making a prophecy, I am not a prophet, but I am making a very clear application of the character and nature of God. Things will happen in His time, and in His way, but they will happen. There has been plenty of time to repent, and there still may be, at least for some.
People may say, “That is not unconditional love, that is manipulative!” The response is that God is in charge, and has conditions for His blessing. He has poured out His grace and His patience in great measure. In order to be saved, one needs to come to God through His measures, through His measure of His Christ. The reason He would remove His grace is so that we would miss, and lament the loss.
With Israel, with Judah, and yes, even with the United States instruction was provided. Warnings were given. Free will employed.
We find ourselves a broken nation; our faithlessness… we have given ourselves over to every desire, to every whim, to every self-absorbing pastime at the neglect to our spiritual health. We have chosen our new master; our bondage is to the slave master of self.
May I suggest that the balm of healing is not held in a new administration, a more robust economy, or better foreign relations, but in alignment with the mind of Christ?
We are a broken nation, and the hope for us is the same as for Israel, Judah, or any other nation for that matter. It is a cry to the Great Physician, the Shepherd of our souls to heal us from the blight of our ways.
The balm of healing is available, but needs to be precipitated by repentance.
I fear our nation has not yet reached the point of crying out to God for that agent of grace: the balm of Christ. Not until we do, will we begin to heal this land.
[The Shepherd’s Echo is a previously published TheShepherdsPen]