“But the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all (Galatians 4:26).”
There is nothing on earth quite like the love of a mother for her child. When a child is frightened, there is no more secure place they desire to be than wrapped in her arms. When they are hungry children cry out for their mothers with the assurance that she will respond speedily. Unfortunately, we only have to watch the evening newscasts to learn that not all mothers have the natural affection for their children (2 Timothy 3:3) that we often believe should be innate and universal(1). Some abandon their offspring or neglect their care, some even abuse their kids.
After years of captivity, thrown from their home in Palestine, God’s children began to say, “The LORD has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me (Isaiah 49:14).” Utterly defeated by the conquering Babylonians, the Temple lay in ruins and the entire population was ejected from their homeland for a generation. Had God cast them off forever? Had He forgotten His children and His promises?
Before Israel had set foot in the Promised Land God sternly warned them that if they forsook Him their children would go into captivity (Deuteronomy 28:41). They did however, and an entire generation of Jews found themselves living in a foreign land and they were grieved (Psalm 137:1-3) believing God had permanently rejected them.
But just as God had promised to send them into captivity for forsaking Him He had also promised to bring them home again and have compassion on them (Deuteronomy 30:3). In response to their false conclusion, that God had forgotten them, He asked His children rhetorically; “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me (Isaiah 49:15-16).”
Consider how great is the love of a mother for her child. Even if it were possible for a nursing mother to forget her child, God had not, and could not forget His children. He had always been attentive to their cries (Psalm 34:6, 15-17). He would again have compassion on them and provide for and sustain them. His love is greater than that of any human relationship.
God has not changed (Malachi 3:6). To this day, He remains attentive to the cries of His children (1 Peter 3:12). He has given us milk to help us grow spiritually (1 Peter 2:2). We have been born again (John 3:3-5) as little children (Matthew 18:3) into the care of the church by which we receive our sustenance and are kept secure(2).
How about you? Have you struggled far from God and fear that perhaps He has rejected you? His promise cannot fail, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5b)’” Draw near to Him and He will surely draw near to you (James 4:8). Even if a nursing mother could forget and forsake her child God cannot forget you. As though He needed a reminder, He comforted His suffering children in captivity with the anthropomorphic visual of having their name inscribed on the palm of His hand. He doesn’t need a string tied around His finger to keep from forgetting you. Christian, you are always on His heart and He will never forget you.
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, not height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).”
- James Burton Coffman Commentaries: Isaiah 49; Bible study Library CD-ROM, ACU Press
- J.W. Monser, Types and Metaphors of the Bible, p.270 F.L. Rowe Publisher, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1936