THE LORD’S MERCY AND COMPASSION TOWARD HIS BACKSLIDDEN CHILDREN
“For My people have committed two evils–they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” [Jeremiah 2:13]
There is nothing so piercing as the remembrance of backsliding against a good and holy God. There is nothing so wounding to a tender conscience as having sinned against manifested mercy and revealed salvation. It seems almost like doing despite to the Spirit of grace; almost like trampling underfoot the blood of the covenant whereby we were sanctified, and treating our best Friend worse than his very enemies treated him. And as these things are brought to mind, and laid upon the conscience with weight and power, they will sometimes sink us very low into despondency and gloom so as almost to take away our very hope.
But the Lord is very merciful and compassionate to those who fear his name. He regards the prayer of the destitute, and will not despise their cry. He listens to the sighs and confessions of the penitent heart, and broken, contrite spirit; and thus, though he will ever abase him that is high, he will exalt him that is low. He will never give up his rightful claim to his people. If he has bought us with his precious blood, he will never allow that purchase to be annulled by the malice of Satan or by the wickedness of our own nature.
How striking are those words, “You have played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, says the Lord.” And again, “Turn, O backsliding children, says the Lord, for I am married unto you.” “Return, O backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.” And shall we not answer, “Behold, we come unto you, for you are the Lord our God! Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains–truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel” (Jer. 3:23).