The longer you delay in accepting the mercy and salvation which God has offered you, the longer God will hide his face. Yet God is merciful. If you seek him, he will return. He says:
I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.Hosea 5:15
God wants us to return whole-heartedly to him. If we do not return, he will do what it takes to crush us so we come to him in humility even if that means he will temporarily remove himself from the presence of Israel. His visible presence, the glory cloud, was so great that in the days of Solomon, at the building of the Temple, it is said that “the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God” (2 Chron 5:14). But now, in the days of Hosea, God determines it is time to remove his presence from earth and return again to his place in the heaven of heavens. Earth was originally designed to be a Temple for God with Eden as his garden Temple. But since that time, beginning with Adam and Eve, God removed himself from his garden Temple. After the flood of Noah, Yahweh intended on dwelling with Abraham’s family in the city where his name would be written (Jerusalem), and promised Solomon at the inauguration of the Temple: “I have consecrated this house that you have built, by putting my name there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time” (1 Kgs 9:3). Yet the Lord also warned Solomon of the removal of his presence if Israel disobeyed:
“…if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them, and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight, and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And this house will become a heap of ruins. Everyone passing by it will be astonished and will hiss, and they will say, ’Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the Lord their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore the Lord has brought all this disaster on them.’ “1 Kings 9:6-9
Certainly, if the Lord abandoned his own city for a time in order to chasten his people, he will chasten those who truly know him (Heb 12:6). God may hide himself from you in response to your stubbornness and pride. As Robert Murray McCheyne once put it:
“God has last knocks.”Robert Murray McCheyne
Oh, how do you know, my friend, that this is not his very last knock on the door of your heart and that failing to get you to open the door today, he may never come to knock again? Seek him now. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer 29:13). You need to acknowledge your guilt and seek his face. It is when you seek him earnestly in your distress that you will find him! If you don’t seek him now, the reality is, you may never find him.
To be fully committed to seek the Lord earnestly with “all our hearts” means 100 per cent commitment. It means seeking his face and what gives him glory. It means rooting out anything that is bad – ruthlessly tearing down the high places and getting rid of the other gods in the midst of our own lives. What does a whole-hearted seeking of God look like?
1. A heart wholly devoted to God is undivided. “Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Psa 86:11, NIV).
2. A heart wholly devoted to God is earnest and sincere. “God rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb 11:6).
3. A heart wholly devoted to God is persistent. Jesus promised in Luke 11:9 that if we ask, we will receive; if we seek, we will find; and if we knock, the door will be opened to us. He did not say this would be easy. Rather the answer to your spiritual quest will come if you persistently look for it.
4. A heart wholly devoted to God is all-consuming. It’s all you can think about. My highest ambition is to know the Lord better (Phil 3:10). The prophet Jeremiah said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer 29:13).
5. A heart wholly devoted to God is committed. The Lord is looking for those whose “hearts are fully committed” to him (2 Chron 16:9). We have to be like Moses who said, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here” (Exo 33:15).
Our whole-heartedness will spread to every area of our life. The expression “all your heart” appears many times throughout the Bible. For example, we are to:
- Seek the Lord with all your hearts (Psa 119:2,10; Jer 29:13; 2 Chron 15:15)
- Follow the Lord with all your hearts (Num 32:12)
- Obey the Lord with all your hearts (Psa 119:34,69; 1 Chron 29:19)
- Love the Lord with all your hearts (Deut 6:4–5; Mt 22:36–38)
- Turn to the Lord with all your hearts (Deut 30:10)
- Return to the Lord with all your hearts (1 Sam 7:3; Jer 24:7; Joel 2:12)
- Trust in the Lord with all your hearts (Pro 3:5-6)
- Praise and extol the Lord with all your hearts (Psa 111:1; 138:1)
- Call on the Lord with all your hearts (Psa 119:145)
- Serve the Lord with all your hearts (Josh 22:5; 1 Chron 28:9; Rom 1:9)
- Walk faithfully before him with all your hearts (1 Kgs 2:3)
- Work for the Lord with all your hearts (Heh 4:6; Col 3:23)
- Rejoice with all your hearts (Zeph 3:14).
 Robert Murray McCheyne. “Christ a Merciful High Priest” in Works, vol 2 (New York: Robert Carter, 1847), 56.
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