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Intro: Israel has been severely punished by the Lord for her sins and for her idolatry. Her cities have been ransacked and her sons and daughters have been carried off into captivity by her enemies. In this chapter, God promises to turn the captivity of His people. He is about to bring them home and all of nature is called upon to worship, v. 13.
There seems to be no cause for rejoicing in Zion. She feels as though she has been “forsaken” and “forgotten” by the Lord, v. 14. “Zion” is another name for the city of Jerusalem. That city represented the entire nation of Israel. As far as Israel was concerned, they had been abandoned and ignored by their Lord. Their nation had been destroyed; their capital, Jerusalem, lay in ruins; their precious Temple had been utterly demolished. They were a broken people. God speaks to them in these verses and He lets them know that He has not forsaken them, nor has He forgotten about them.
There is an old song that seems to capture the essence of what these verses are trying to teach us. The song is “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole. That old song contains these lyrics:
That song came to my mind as I read these verses. This passage reminds us that God’s people are “unforgettable” to Him. In these verses, God gives His people some very precious reasons for hope. He lets them know that He has not abandoned them and He cannot forget about them. God uses four vivid word pictures to give assurance to His people.
We might not want to admit it, but there are times when we feel abandoned and forgotten by the Lord too. We wonder why the circumstances in our lives are like they are. We wonder why it seems like life is one trial after another. We wonder where God is in the world and why things appear to be out of control. Sometimes we feel like we have been forgotten!
These verses are designed to teach you that you are “unforgettable”. God cannot and will not forget about you, God cannot and will not forsake you. I want to show you how these verses present our God. We are given four proofs of God’s devotion to us. Let me share those proofs with you today as I preach on the subject: Unforgettable.
I. v. 15 GOD’S COMPASSION
· God is pictured as a mother. A mother cannot forget the child that nurses at her breast. If she does, the cries of her hungry child and the needs of her own body will remind her. Nothing in this world can compare to the love of a mother for her children. (Ill. The Mrs. McCoy – Her son Giles was onboard the USS Indianapolis when it sank in 1945. She was 10,000 miles away, but she woke up knowing her boy was in trouble.) (Ill. That love can fail – Andrea Yates, Susan Smith, abortion, children forced into prostitution.) Eventually, a mother’s will be ended by death.
· God’s love is perfect and it can never fail. He loves at all times and in spite of all appearance. His love is perfect, permanent, unconditional and eternal. (Ill. Rom. 8:35-39; Eph. 3:18-19)
· God’s love is an amazing thing!
Ø He loved us first – 1 John 4:19
Ø He loved us when we were unlovable – Eph. 2:4; 1 John 4:10
Ø He loved so much that He gave His Son to save us – Rom. 5:8
Ø He loves us eternally – Jer. 31:3 Nothing can diminish, destroy or defeat His love for us!
II. v. 16a GOD’S COMPULSION
· God is pictured as a lover separated from his intended, or as an exile separated from Jerusalem. A lover might engrave the name of his beloved on his hands as a constant reminder of that person. Jewish exiles were known to engrave a drawing of the walls of Jerusalem and the Temple into their hands as a reminder of that place. Even though such things were forbidden under the Law, Lev. 19:28, they still occurred. (Ill. The process – Small punctures made permanent using dyes.)
· God is not saying that He has violated His Own Law, but God is saying that He has permanently identified Himself with His people. He can never deny them; they are a permanent part of Him.
God doesn’t have hands. This is a figure of speech known as an anthropomorphism. That is when human features are used to describe the characteristics of God. It is a human attempt to describe God in ways we can comprehend. In Israel’s time, it was a figure of speech. In our relationship with God it has become a reality.
When Jesus took on a human body, God literally had hands. When He died on the cross, the nails that were driven through His hands are permanent reminders of His love for and relationship to His redeemed people.
· He cannot deny us; the proof of our relationship is ever before His face! We enjoy absolute, eternal security in our salvation. (Ill. John 6:37-40; 10:28; 1 Pet. 1:5; Psa. 37:28; Heb. 7:25; 1 John 5:13)
Ill. John 10:28 – The word “never” translates four Greek words: Oume – Not at all; by no means; in no case; never. Eis – Place, time, purpose. Ho – Male or female. Aion – Perpetually or eternally. “And I give unto the eternal life and they shall not at all, by any means, in any case, in any place, at any time, for any purpose, whether they be male of female, perpetually or eternally ever perish.”
· God can never deny His relationship to His people!
III. v. 16b GOD’S CONCENTRATION
· Here God is described as a watchman. He had not forsaken or forgotten Zion, but her walls were ever on His mind and in His vision. He continually remembered His promises to restore her walls. Like a watchman, God would be vigilant and diligent to look after the needs and the welfare of His people. In other words, the nation of Israel and His promises to her were always on His mind.
Many of the Jews feared that God had forgotten His promises to them. It sure looked like it. They could not see that God was working even in what appeared to be a disaster to bring about His perfect will for His people. He had His eye on every detail of their existence.
· He does the same for us! God is always mindful of His promises to His people. It may appear that God has abandoned you from time to time. It may appear that God has forgotten some of the things He has promised. That is merely how things appear. The truth is, God never fails and God never forgets. He will keep every promise He has ever made to His people. That is His guarantee, Rom. 4:21. All the promises of God are guaranteed to us in Jesus Christ, 2 Cor. 1:20.
· What kind of promises are we talking about? All of them!
Ø His Presence – Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5 (Ill. Any place, any need, any time)
Ø His Provisions – Matt. 6:25-34; Phil. 4:19 (Ill. Every need, every circumstance, every condition of life)
Ø His Peace – John 14:27; Phil. 4:7 (Ill. Every problem, every illness, every valley)
Ø His Power – Phil. 4:13 (Ill. Every situation, every service, every day)
Ø His Purposes – Rom. 8:28; Psa. 37:23; Job 23:10 (Ill. Every step, every day, every mile)
· God has His eyes on all the walls of our lives and He has a plan to look after you!
IV. v. 18 GOD’S COMPLETION
· This verse pictures God as a jeweler who adorns the neck of a bride, completing her preparations for her wedding.
Israel is pictured as the bride. Her enemies have left, v. 17, and her children are coming home, v. 17-18. They are the precious jewels that shall adorn the neck of a glorious Israel. Of course, this promise looks ahead to a future time when the nation will be fully restored and blessed in their land.
Israel’s future is brighter than her past. God has a plan for Israel; she is going to a wedding some day and God will adorn her with the precious jewels of children.
· Let me remind you that God has a plan to complete His church! Just as Israel is going to a wedding so are we. In fact, we have an even brighter future ahead of us than Israel does! Consider this:
Ø Our Bridegroom has gone to prepare a place for us – John 14:2
Ø Our Bridegroom has promised to return to claim us for Himself – John 14:3; 1 Thes. 4:16-18; 1 Cor. 15:51-52
Ø Our Bridegroom has promised to wipe away the tears of our separation from Him – Rev. 21:4
Ø Our Bridegroom has promised that our new home will be far superior in beauty and in condition than this world – Rev. 21-22; Rev. 21:27
Ø Our Bridegroom has promised to take us to a wedding in the clouds – Rev. 19:7-9
Ø Our Bridegroom has promised us a honeymoon that is out of this world - Rev. 19:11-21; Rev. 22:5
Ø I think our future looks mighty bright! God has a glorious plan to complete His work in us. Phil. 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”
Conc: We don’t need Nat King Cole to remind us that we are unforgettable to the Lord. He loves us. He has permanently identified Himself with us. He has His eyes on us. He will keep His promises to us. Our futures are bright and secure in Him.
We may feel abandoned and forgotten at time, but God will never forget or forsake those who belong to Him.
If you feel forsaken and forgotten today, I invite you to come to God. Tell Him all about it and watch Him come to your aid. That is His promise, Heb. 4:15-16.
If you have been reassured about some things today, you might just want to bow before Him and say, “Thank You Lord!”
If you have never been saved and would like to have peace in your heart and security for your soul, then you should come to Jesus, by faith, right now, and He will save you from your sins unto Himself.