BECAUSE OF HER SUFFERING,
ISRAEL FELT GOD HAD FORGOTTEN HER.
“THE LORD HAS FORSAKEN ME,
MY LORD HAS FORGOTTEN ME.”
HAVE YOU EVER FELT THAT WAY?
I CERTAINLY HAVE.
MANY OF YOU HAVE HEARD THIS STORY,
SO I’LL TELL A READER’S DIGEST VERSION,
FOR IT FITS SO PERFECTLY WITH THIS WEEK’S SONG FROM ISAIAH.
I was a new widow, missing Steve so.
We used to call each other co-dependent insomniacs, because if one of us couldn’t sleep,
he or she would say to the other, “Are you awake?” And then we both would be.
So often Steve would pray over me, sing over me,
or say our favorite nursery rhyme to try to lull me to sleep.
“Winkin, Blinkin, and Nod sailed out on a moonlit night.”
I missed my husband so.
I lamented: “Lord, You promised to be a husband to the widow.
But how can You be? You are not even flesh and blood.
You have forsaken me, though You said You never would.”
He then brought a memory to me, of being a first-time Mom,
of running to my baby in the middle of the night,
unbuttoning my nightgown as I ran so as not to lose time.
WHEN ISRAEL ACCUSES GOD OF FORSAKING HER,
HE PAINTED THE SAME PICTURE FOR HER.
IN THE FREE TIM KELLER SERMON THIS WEEK
HE WILL HELP YOU SEE HOW POIGNANT THIS PICTURE IS.
A MOTHER’S MILK LETS DOWN AT THE SOUND OF HER BABY’S CRY!
SHE COULDN’T FORGET IF SHE WANTED TO FORGET!
RARE IS THE MOTHER WHO WILL ABANDON HER BABY,
SHE WILL KEEP HIM CLOSE, NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES.
I WILL NOT FORGET YOU.
BEHOLD, I HAVE ENGRAVED YOU ON THE PALMS OF MY HANDS.
WHEN OUR SUFFERING IS SO INTENSE THAT WE ARE TEMPTED TO FEEL FORGOTTEN,
REMEMBER THE PRICE HE PAID TO MAKE US HIS CHILDREN.
AS TIM KELLER SAYS:
“HE WAS FORSAKEN SO WE COULD KNOW WE WOULD NEVER BE.”
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. Have you ever felt forsaken by God? If so, what did you do?
MONDAY-WEDNESDAY BIBLE STUDY
One thing that is unique about a mother’s love is that it is unconditional. It is not based on what her baby can do for her. I remember when my daughter Annie had her firstborn, Miabelle. She said, “Miabelle cannot do one thing for me. In fact, she is an enormous amount of work. But I would do anything for her, my love is so fierce for her.”
To prepare your heart for this passage, listen to this video preview of Keller’s sermon and share what stands out to you.
3. What stands out to you and why?
4. For context, read Isaiah 49:1-7, remembering that Isaiah is prophesying about the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. He calls Him Israel, for that is how closely Jesus identified with His people. Find at least three things about the coming Messiah in these verses. What especially stands out to you and why?
5. What will God do for His people through the Messiah according to Isaiah 49:8-13. Find at least two things that strike you and explain why they do.
6. How is Israel feeling, according to Isaiah 49:14? Why is it good that she laments?
7. How does God respond to her lament according to Isaiah 49:15-16?
8. How might you apply this passage to your life right now?
THURSDAY-FRIDAY: FREE KELLER SERMON – CAN A MOTHER FORGET?
9. Share your notes and comments from the message.
10. What is your take-a-way and why?
I just posted my notes on the sermon and it said my comment was marked as spam so it didn’t post and I didn’t do it on Word first. 🙁 I LOVED the sermon. Listen to it if you can! 🙂
I see your notes posted in my Dee email, Rebecca, but I don’t see them on here. Thanks for the notes and recommendation.
Rebecca — I don’t see them needing to be approved so it is a mystery you could look into if you want!
I feel so sorry for Rebecca! I am going to see if I have any better luck posting my notes.
NOTES ON DR. TIMOTHY KELLER’S SERMON
Can a Mother Forget?
Isaiah 49:1-16 (emphasis on 14,15,16)
This is the second of the Servant Songs in Isaiah 49. Vs. 1-13 is a sweeping panoramic, comprehensive statement of the salvation that God is going to bring into the world through the Servant. You will see there is salvation soon, and then eventually, and then ultimately. The Jews at that point are in exile in Babylon, and God is going to bring the Jews back.
In vs. 6 , He says, it is too small a thing for you to be my servant and restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel. I will also make you a light to the Gentiles. I am going to bring salvation to all the nations of the earth. In verse 12 you see that vividly described, because when through the Servant God begins to gather His people together, notice they don’t just come from the East (from Babylon) which is where they would have come from to go back to Jerusalem. They come from all directions.
When we get down to vs 13, when the mountains are actually rejoicing, we have a vision of the new heavens and new earth in which everything – all suffering, all decay, call disease, and even death is put away.
Keller wants us to look specifically at verses 14, 15, and 16. It says “But Zion has said.” Zion is a little hill within Jerusalem where the temple was built, but the Temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians. “Zion” became a way of speaking not only about Jerusalem but all Israel. In verse 14, we see Israel saying skeptically “But I don’t feel loved.” In verses 15 and 16, we see God responding to this painful question and also a cure for the pain. Zion says “the Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me” The people of Israel are saying “Yes, salvation soon, salvation eventually, and salvation ultimately, but what about NOW?” Zion is in ruins. The temple was our assurance that you love us, and therefore we have no assurance that you love us. They don’t actually say “we don’t believe all of these things – we don’t believe in God or these things aren’t going to happen,” No, I think they believe it, but it doesn’t affect them. It is possible for the human heart to live in the presence of truth that you believe and it not affect the way you or live at all.
Richard Lovelace, Keller’s teacher, in one of his books said “It is an item of faith that we are children of God, but there is plenty of experience in us against that. So the faith that surmounts this evidence and is able to warm itself at the fire of God’s love instead of stealing love and slef-acceptance from other sources is actually at the very root of holiness.”
There is evidence inside you that is against that. Sometimes you see stuff in there, and you say “I don’t know how God would love me considering what I feel or am or have done.” There is also a lot of evidence outside which is unanswered prayers and terrible disappointments. I see all of the unanswered prayers around me. I see all of the failings inside me, and therefore, I don’t feel in any way –this love of God is not a reality in my heart. Lovelace says you can’t just live with that. If you don’t find a way to get over that. If you don’t find a way to move beyond just mental subscription to doctrine to heart-affecting, life-changing transformation of your life by that doctrine, you are going to steal self-acceptance and love from other sources. What does he mean by stealing? You are going to choose careers poorly, you are going to stay in relationships you shouldn’t be in, you are going to overwork. When things are kind of going well the fact that our mental belief in God’s love is not affecting us does not necessarily create a problem. But the minute things go poorly, then suddenly there comes this painful question.
How does God deal with this despondency? He gives an answer to the question and a cure for the pain. Answer to the question: “ Can a nursing mother forget the baby at her breast? Though she might forget, I will not forget you.” Keller says I want you to see something God doesn’t do. He doesn’t say “Well, just suck it up!” In fact vss. 15 and 16 represents God turning aside and letting himself be interrupted. It is like a great professor, and he is lecturing the class, and someone raises their hand sand says “I just can’t buy that!” God turns aside and takes the outburst seriously. He deals with it. He doesn’t just give emotional support, but he gives a very, very challenging kind of truth. He appeals to the mind with a theological metaphor. God is wanting us to think about how He is like and unlike a nursing mother. It is thinking, its doctrinal, its theology, but it is theology designed to get to your affections.
Will try to post the rest of my notes in a separate post, trying to avoid problems being allowed to post something so lengthy.
Notes on Keller’s Sermon continued.
John White, a Christian psychiatrist many years ago wrote a book called The Masks of Melancholy on depression. White says despondent people should do solid Bible Study instead of using devotional reading. He says when you are despondent, in some cases for chemical reasons, you can’t feel anything. He says you should get the truth of who God is, and drill it, drill it, drill it down toward your heart. I want you to think and think until you begin to feel something.
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast? She may forget but I will not forget you.” God wants us to meditate and reflect on the nature of the bond between the nursing mother and her infant. Three reasons why a mother can’t forget her infant:
1) A mother cannot forget physically. You don’t need an alarm to say woops its time to feed the baby, because you feel uncomfortable if you don’t nurse the baby, because the milk comes in. Because of the prolactins.
2) She can’t forget emotionally because nursing also releases oxytocins which is a chemical which in your body makes you feel delight and incredible contentment. Enormous forces within her being move her forcibly toward her child.
3) The mother’s love is unconditional. Think about every other kind of relationship. Even in a marriage you make vows. There has to be give and take or the marriage will eventually fall apart. But look at the relationship between a mother and infant – is there give and take? Yes, the infant is all take and the mother is all give! The mother’s entire life revolves around the infant.
How God is not like a nursing mother: Human mothers forget. Some are bad mothers – some abandon their children. Even a good mother will eventually grow senile and then she will die – so she will forget. Mother’s love is not indestructible because human beings are not indestructible. God says “I am a God of love and faithfulness – I love all that I have created.
A nursing mother just dotes on the child. You see the radiance on her face. God has the audacity to say that is just a dim bit of my delight in you.
When God says “Your walls are before me,” He is talking about Jerusalem. He is saying to you, “Your life is ever before me. It is a horrible insult to say I love you like a nursing mother loves her child. It’s God’s way of saying, “You give me nothing. There is nothing but take, take, take. You are completely selfish. You add no value to my life at all, but I absolutely love you unconditionally.
If the reality of this kind of love was an abiding reality to your heart, moment by moment, existentially, consciously, what kind of person would you be? The answer is “Way different than the one sitting right her now.” Guess what – God is not done, because ultimately this is still talk. We have to get to verse 16, if we are going to see a cure for the pain, and not just an answer for the question. Because in the end what really convinces you that somebody loves you is not talk, but action.
In 1 John, it says “Beloved, let us not love in word only but in deed and in truth.” The word “Forsaken” means you are not doing anything for me As frustrating as being a parent is – as draining as being a parent is and how you completely orient your entire life around the infant and you get nothing, you learn that the child believes “adults are here to meet my every need!” There are times when you cross the will of the child. You don’t give the child something the child wants. And the child screams out – sometimes explicitly, sometimes just implies – “You don’t love me!” Keller says when they do that you WANT to say “You little twerp, the sacrifices I have made for you are invisible to you– and the most crucial deeds of love I’ve done for you are not these things you are asking for now. Keller says “Don’t you see we do that with God?”We say, “You don’t love me because you are not answering my prayers now.
Thinking through this metaphor takes a long time, but if you do, it will change your life. God says “you have not seen the magnitude of my sacrifice for you, and the most crucial deed of love that really matters is not the one you are worried about right now.”
Then Keller gave the part we have already dealt with this week about the slave having the master’s name tattooed on his hand, leading to the fact that Jesus’ palms were engraved with spikes on Calvary.
You’ve done it again, Deanna. Amazing!
I just want to thank you, Deanna. It is so helpful to go back over your notes. Listening first and then reading your notes brought it together.
Just so you know, I’M REALLY EXCITED ABOUT NEXT WEEK’S SONG!
Deanna, As always, thank you for your detailed notes. Tim Keller’s gold again!
Comments on Tim Keller’s sermon:
Drill the truth into your affections and let your life be shaped by it. I don’t have to be swayed by my circumstances. The truth that God loves me should ever be before me and the nail scarred hands of Jesus should bring me joy in the awareness of what really matters He has taken care of for me.
condensed Sermon notes:
Why did Jesus come into the world? Isaiah mentions a salvation for Israel that will be soon, eventually, and ultimately (with ultimately being the new heaven and new earth)
Israel said, “but I don’t FEEL loved NOW”
Painful Question: What about NOW? I feel forsaken now. Condition of the human heart: we can live in the presence of truth and still have it not affect the way we live or how we feel at all.
Answer to the question: God won’t forget us. He doesn’t tell us, “Just suck it up!” He takes the question seriously. He tells us that a mother’s love for her nursing baby pales in comparison to how much HE loves us.
Cure for the pain: not just talk but action. He engraved us on the palm of His hands. Engrave means take a hammer and nail to it. We need to get this truth fully into our heads and our living will begin to reflect it.
I confess I have not been able to keep up with the lesson. I’m finding that reading through the NT with my church during Lent and keeping up with these beautiful lessons here is more than I can do. BUT I am printing each of them and have them in a binder… I work on a few of the questions without always posting here. And I want to show up now and then, to stay in touch. ALSO I have printed DEANNA‘s great note summaries…..and even when I haven’t listened to the messages, I have READ them through that wonderful gift of her transcriptions.
SO…..my TAKEAWAY comes from what was early in the week: The deep insight in the sermon intro video. SO thought provoking, I posted it on my facebook wall. I also shared it with our Children’s Pastor as at our Wednesday night children’s program, she told us that she had just spoken with someone who felt they had done too much wrong and couldn’t be forgiven. Our story was on the prodigal son and the lavish love of the Father. Keller’s words about God engraving us on His hands are astonishing. I remember that he said that sometimes, but not often……a slave may be tattooed with the mark of the owner. But never did an owner tattoo the mark of the slave on himself. Yet, God engraved us on his hands. Not as a ‘cute little symbol’ but in the nail marks on his hands……physical proof of His immense love. (was so vividly portrayed in the movie, ‘the Shack’ too. Nail prints as God’s love was displayed.)
That information about the salve and owner and God not just tattooing our name/mark on His hand, but engraving was probably the part of this lesson that made the greatest impression on me also, Wanda. That is a very powerful image!
I know I am a week behind but honestly it has taken me a week just to get on and write this post. I could not help but think of a few of the pieces to the introduction one of them being ” Rare is the mother who will abandon her baby” That penetrated my heart. I have been forgiven and set free from my abortion but looking back my abortion was just that abandoning my baby and worse ending my baby’s life. So for the next question of have I ever felt forsaken by God I honestly can say no but I felt and know I had forsaken Him.
Oh dear Liz. There are times I would give anything to be “in real life” with one here, and this is one of those times. To sit with you, to give you a hug, to pray with you and assure you of His utter, complete, washing forgiveness and grace that covers you. We ALL have painful regrets, but rest in the TRUTH and grace of psalm 103:12 “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” Praying for you now dear sister~
Thank you. I do have that assurance. I think the feelings I have are part of the consequence of those actions. I have His joy for the forgiveness He has given me and I KNOW he has forgiven me. I have been able to speak publicly in several settings on this forgiveness and I stand in Awe of such great love. The enmy no longer holds me captive with shame but the regret will never go away. It would be a blessing to sit and pray with you!
Liz, I second Lizzy’s comments to you here. God has not forsaken you. Hugs to you!
Thank you. No He will never forsake us!!!!!
Oh, Liz, I’m so glad Diane pointed out your post here in the current week’s blog. I agree with all Lizzy wrote. You are fully forgiven. Nothing we could ever do or not do changes God’s relentless love for us, in Chris Jesus. I’m adding my hug to the others. Rest in His love, dear one.
Mary e Thank you for your kind and caring words. Such love here,
Wondering how you are doing? Pray you are encouraged daily in His presence!
Oh Liz — thanks for sharing — and thanks to Diane for pointing it out, for I do miss things, especially at times when I’m traveling. I am glad you have not felt forsaken by God. We have ALL forsaken Him but it is paid for, forgiven, and we are pure again. And you will meet this child in heaven. Love and hugs to you.
Dee so looking forward to seeing my child waiting for me in heaven. My heart leaps thinking of it. I miss so much here. I am not stressing over it and just want it to be easy and light. When I come on I am ALWAYS BLESSED.
Hugs, Liz, your post touches me. Thanks to God for never forsaking each of us.
Shirley I have been thinking of you. I pray you are finding your time with the Lord to be just what you need each day!
HUGS back to you all!!!