Living With Grief

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), June 28

imagesWe only grieve over those whom we have loved and lost.

God’s grief is born of a holy love for those whom He created in His image. Therefore, their sin grieves Him deeply.

God’s goodness turns to grief after the first couple sin in the garden of Eden. After covering their nakedness He evicts them from the garden. Ten generations after the Fall, God assesses humanity, “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had man on the earth, and He was grieved in his heart” (Gen. 6:5-6). Everything that had breath drowns, with exception of Noah and his household. God’s grief is soothed by Noah’s sacrifice, “Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma” (8:20-21).

Each era in the Bible’s story reveals God’s goodness and His grief.

  • In the Exodus Era, an entire generation dies in the wilderness because of their stubborn rebellion.
  • In the Conquest Era, God’s grief is manifest after He warns Israel to destroy everything in Jericho, except for Rahab and her family. Achan, however, violates God’s instruction, and it costs him his life and family.
  • During the Judges Era, Israel continually sins against the LORD, and God sends Israel’s enemies to oppress them.
  • During the Kingdom Era, Saul brings grief to the heart of God over his rebellion–as does David in his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah. Solomon grieves God’s heart when he marries foreign women and worships their gods.

God is not pleased with most of the kings and the people of the Divided Kingdom. Isaiah captures the depth of God’s grief over the spiritual welfare of His people, “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me; the ox knows his owner and the donkey his master’s crib; but Israel does not know, My people do not consider” (Isaiah 1:2-3). Because God loves His people, their sin grieves Him deeply.

Grief is born out of love—a love that is not sickly sentimental but genuinely caring. Because God loves Israel, He:

  • Grieves over their sin, “Alas, sinful nation, a peopled laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD; they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward” (1:4).
  • Invites them to turn back to Him, “Wash yourselves, and make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together . . . ” (1:16-18).
  • Metes out fatherly punishment against them, “I will turn my hand against you, and thoroughly purge away your dross, and take away all your alloy” (1:25).
  • Promises to restore those who repented, “Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her penitents with righteousness” (1:27).
  • Will not tolerate their sin, “The destruction of transgressors and of sinners shall be together, and those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed” (1:28).
  • Grieves when man sins. The true depth of His love for man and His grief over man’s sin is displayed ultimately on the cross.

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Isaiah 28:1-29; 2 Kings 17:5; 18:10-12; 2 Kings 17:6-23; 17:24-41; Isaiah 1:1-20):
What does the LORD’s indictment against Israel in Isaiah 28:7 reveal about alcohol consumption and spiritual vitality?
How does Isaiah use Israel’s captivity by the Assyrians in his message to Judah?