A God Who CaresRelated Media
Too often many of us become concerned, if not burdened, with the cares and difficulties of life. Often, however, it is needless concerns that worry us. Nevertheless, left to themselves such concerns and cares can foster a feeling of discouragement or despondency and in some extreme cases even a disdain for life. As Shakespeare wrote,
Care keeps his watch in every old man’s eye,
And where care lodges, sleep will never lie.1
Similar words of cares have been voiced by many others. Thus Davies, wrote,
What is life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?2
Along with such an outlook on life some persons may become self-centered, not caring what happens, “so long as it doesn’t happen to them.”3
Quite to the contrary, others have pointed out that people would lose their pre-occupation with self if they truly cared for the needs of others. Thus Strait observes,
Life needs someone to care for so life can focus on others and not on itself. The care that focuses on others keeps the vision of life clear, not beclouded with self.4
In the midst of the concerns and cares of life it is better by far to turn to the Lord for his relief and guidance:
O God, whose smile is in the sky,
Whose path is in the sea,
Once more from earth’s tumultuous strife,
we gladly turn to Thee.
We come as those with toil far spent
Who crave Thy rest and peace,
And from the care and fret of life,
Would find in Thee release.5
Similarly, Mansell said,
Low at His feet lay thy burden of carefulness,
High on His heart He will bear it for thee,
Comfort thy sorrows, and answer thy prayerfulness,
Guiding thy steps as best for thee be. 6
Such is altogether fitting and proper, for as we have noted previously the Lord is a gracious and compassionate God.7 It is he who gives assurance and hope in troublesome and even treacherous times to those who turn to him in faith and full trust:
The LORD says,
“Because he is devoted to me, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he is loyal to me.
When he calls out to me, I will answer him.
I will be with him when he is in trouble;
I will rescue him and bring him honor.”(Ps. 91:14-15; cf. Ps. 102:1-2)8
Indeed, not only for salvation, but “God’s compassion can extend to and be exercised in man’s everyday needs and affairs.”9
In the following study we explore what the Scriptures teach with regard to the concern and care that the God of grace and compassion has for mankind. We shall also note the implications of this teaching for believers in their walk before and with the Lord.
Concern and Care in the Old Testament
The Old Testament contains many examples of God’s concern and care for his people both as a nation and as individuals. It is a theme that occurs frequently. God’s careful creation of the world and mankind also comes to mind as well as his preservation of mankind through the flood in Noah’s time. Not to be forgotten is the Lord’s care in bringing Abram from Ur of the Chaldees to a land of God’s perpetual concern (Gen. 12:1-3). Among the many examples of God’s careful watch over Abraham in accordance with his divine promises and Abraham’s faithfulness is his sparing of Abraham’s only son Isaac (Gen. 23:13-14). The Lord was especially involved in many events in Isaac’s life as well as that of his son Jacob and in turn, the life of Joseph, especially in Joseph’s rise to power in Egypt. Indeed, Joseph’s position there would prove to be the means of preserving the Lord’s people during a time of great famine. Particularly noteworthy are Joseph’s words to his brothers as he lay dying in Egypt:
“I am about to die. But God will surely come to you and lead you up from this land to the land he swore on oath to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He said, “God will surely come to you. Then you must carry my `bones up from this place.” (Gen. 50:24-25)
In Joseph’s last words can be seen his confidence in the Lord’s concern for his people. Although the root (“pqd”) of the verb used here (NET, “come”) comes has a wide range of meanings both in Hebrew and other Semitic languages, here it expresses Joseph’s supreme confidence in the Lord’s providential care and faithfulness to his earlier promise made to the patriarchs. Thus the NASB translates it, “take care of.” A similar rendering may be noted in God’s words to Moses in the days leading up to his bringing Israel out of Egypt:
Go and bring together the elders of Israel and tell them, “The Lord, the God of your fathers, appeared to me—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—saying, ‘I have attended carefully to you and what has been done to you in Egypt, and I have promised that I will bring you up out of the affliction in Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey.’” (Exod. 3:16-17; cf. 4:31)
Accordingly, Williams appropriately remarks: “God was not only concerned (pqd) for the Israelites in Egypt, but delivered them from their bondage.”10 Of further interest is the report of Moses’ action at the time of Israel’s exodus from Egypt: “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the Israelites solemnly swear, ‘God will surely attend to you and you will carry my bones up from this place with you’” (Exod. 13:19).11 The Lord is thus truly a God who demonstrates his concern for his own.
This can be seen not only in his concern for his people while they were in Egypt and at the time of the exodus, but as well in his continued care for them during their wanderings in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land. Thus Hosea records God’s words to that effect, “I cared for you in the wilderness, in the dry desert where no water was” (Hos. 13:5). Indeed, it was Yahweh, their Deliverer “who alone could and did care for them during their wilderness wanderings (cf. Exod. 15:22-17:7; 40:36-38; Num. 11:4-34; 20:1-13; Deut. 2:7; Ps. 105:39-41; 107:4-6).”12 Nevertheless, instead of being appreciative of all that God had done for them, “Rather than being grateful or even taking note of him, they became self-satisfied and proud, Rather remembering God, they forgot him.”13It is small wonder, then, that Moses would later charge the Israelites of the need for faithfulness, for their Lord truly is a God who is concerned for them and their spiritual condition, and cares for his own.
Elsewhere through Moses the Lord communicated a message concerning the urgent for them to follow the God’s commands and standards if they were to continue to experience his blessings in the land to which they were about to enter. Thus Moses admonished the people,
Today the LORD has declared you to be his special people (as he already promised you) so you may keep all his commandments. Then he will elevate you above all the nations he has made and you will receive praise, fame, and honor. You will be a people holy to the LORD your God, as he has said.” (Deut. 26:18-19).
Even their land will be under the watchful eye of the Lord (Deut. 11:11-14). Theirs could be a life of great blessings, enjoyment, and fulfillment.
If you indeed obey the LORD your God and are careful to observe all his commandments I am giving you today, the LORD your God will elevate you above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come to you in abundance, if you obey the LORD your God. (Deut. 28:1-2; cf. 31:9-15)
As Craigie observes with regard to the further listing of all of these blessings,
“The blessing of God would extend to every sphere of Israel’s life; to urban life and rural life (v. 3); to fertility, in man, in the ground, and in animals (v. 4); to the provision of household necessities (v. 5); to the daily activities that a man might undertake (v. 6).14 Should Israel prove to be ungrateful and unfaithful, they might well expect the judgment of a righteous and holy God (Deut. 28:15ff.).
God’s loving care did indeed extend to his people upon their entrance into the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua. With Moses dead, the Lord appeared unto Joshua as he began his leadership of the people of Israel and charged him to fulfill his duties responsibly:
Make sure you are very strong and brave! Carefully obey all the law my servant Moses charged you to keep! Do not swerve from it to the right or the left, so that you may be successful in all that you do. This law scroll must not leave your lips! You must memorize it day and night so you can carefully obey all that is written in it. Then you will prosper and be successful. (Josh. 1:7-8)
The charge to be “very strong and brave” (or courageous) was a familiar one to Joshua, for Moses had delivered a similar challenge to him previously (Deut. 31:7-8). These words were to prove to be a divine admonition for many generations of believers (cf. 2 Sam. 10:12; 1 Chron. 19:13; 2 Chron. 32:7-8; see also, 1 Cor. 16:13).15 This charge carries with it, however, the need to obey “carefully” the standards in the Word of God. To do so brings spiritual health and well being, as well as the assurance of God’s presence and guidance: “I repeat, be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid or panic, for I, the LORD your God, am with you in all that you do” (Josh. 1:9).
Not only for Joshua but for all believers, such strength comes only from the Lord himself. Many examples of God’s care and concern for his faithful followers may be seen in subsequent Old Testament times, such as for David in the face of persecution by Saul; for Jeremiah, who often was imprisoned for his faithful ministry for the Lord; and for Daniel and his three friends in their many trials. The Lord’s challenge to Joshua was doubtless one that Job could also embrace. For he testified of a similar hope and belief:
You gave me life and faithful love,
and your care has guarded my life. (Job 10:12, HCSB)
Here Job assures the Lord of his deep, underlying conviction that it is God alone who ultimately is “directing the course of events that befall a person.”16 Moreover, despite his oft negative reactions to his physical and emotional struggles, here he expresses his confidence in God’s concern for him. For deep within his heart Job knows that it is simply the case that the Lord, the sovereign Creator, is a righteous God who can be trusted in every circumstance, no matter how difficult or terrifying. The Lord reminds Job of how great God really is and how he does look after all creation for its good (Job 38-39; 40:6-41:34), and then he confronts Job saying, “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?” (Job 40:2). Job at last does come to a conscious realization of how true all of this is, and of his own need of full dependence on the Lord (Job 40:3-5; 42:1-6). Today’s believers may well commiserate with Job in his struggles, for we too often face many hardships and trials. But above all, we need to recall and keep in mind Job’s earlier words of confidence in the fact that ultimately the Lord is the One who is in control of all that occurs and that all that happens in our lives is for God’s glory and our good.17
As we noted several examples of God’s concern and care for people, we also saw that the Lord is a righteous God. Quite obviously, then, his followers should also strive to live righteously before God, and like the Lord, have a concern for the needs of others. As the ancient proverb puts it,
The righteous person knows the rights of the poor,
but the wicked one does not understand these concerns. (Prov. 29:7; NASB)
To be sure, this statement deals with legal affairs, particularly the plight of the poor and underprivileged members of society. Yet the righteous should be concerned with more that the legal right of the poor. As does the Lord, they should be concerned also for their broader needs.
The poor person and the oppressor have this in common;
the LORD gives light to the eyes of them both. (Prov. 29:13)
As Ibn Ezra once remarked, “The Lord giveth light to the eyes of both of them by giving them their want.” 18
As Waltke points out, believers should be those who understand that,
both the oppressed and the oppressor are beneficiaries of God’s common grace…. The oppressor should abandon oppressing the poor but value and share with him, recognizing that he himself enjoys life only by God’s forbearance. A poor person should not despise or envy his oppressors but recognize that even they are recipients of God’s uncommonly common grace and their lives are in God’s hands.19
Of all people, then, believers should be concerned both for the lives and the basic needs of all people -- even the poor (cf. Prov. 22:9). In a wider perspective, the Scriptures teach the need to show love to one’s neighbors. This does not stop with those living close by or simply one’s friends, but for all people (cf. Lev. 19:18).
Although God’s judgment of his people caused them to be exiles in foreign lands, the Lord’s concern for his people never wavered (cf. Isa. 41:10-20). To be sure, he had no choice but to judge them because of their sinful ways (2 Kings 17:7-12; 2 Chron. 36:15-2); yet the despite their exiled status, they had not changed their behavior. Even Israel’s leaders in Ezekiel’s day failed to profit by the Lord’s judgment. Rather, they were self-serving men—false shepherds who put their own desires above the needs of the flock, the people, who were entrusted to their care. The result was devastating. Therefore God spoke through Ezekiel:
You have not strengthened the weak, healed the sick, bandaged the injured, brought back the strays, or sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled over them. They were scattered because they had no shepherd… My sheep were scattered over the entire face of the earth with no one looking or searching for them. (Ezek. 34:4-5a, 6b).
As Cooper remarks, “For lack of positive moral or spiritual leadership the people were wanderers from the Lord and became a prey to idolatry and immorality.”20
Therefore, God, the good shepherd, would see to the welfare and re-gathering of his sheep. The message concerning God’s role as the shepherd of his flock, his people, is a familiar one in the Old Testament (e.g., Ps. 23:1-2; Isa. 40:11). The Lord’s shepherding of his flock is “presented as guiding (Ps. 100:3), protecting (Ps. 78:52), saving (Ezek. 34:22), and gathering (Jer. 31:10) the people, as well as leading them out to find proper nourishment (Jer. 50:19; Mic. 2:12-13).”21
Ezekiel returns to the subject of the judged and exiled people and Lord’s concern as a shepherd in chapter 36. Here, however, there is a significant shift of emphasis. Having noted his people’s past sinfulness, which brought about the Lord’s judgment and their resultant scattering (Ezek. 36:16-19), the Lord charges them with further misconduct; “When they arrived in the nations where they went, they profaned my holy name” (v. 20a). Thus because of their spiritually depraved conduct, the people around them belittled the Lord (v. 20b), bringing a blot on the very name of the Lord. As the Lord himself declares, “I was concerned for my holy reputation, which the house of Israel profaned among the nations where they went” (v. 21). As Block points out, “A failure of outside observers to distinguish between ultimate human causation and immediate divine action could lead to false views of God, hence the profanation of his name.”22
Despite his people’s sinfulness, however, a caring God would see to their need for the sake of his name (vv. 22-23) and take them back to their own land (vv. 24, 28-30). Not only this, but the Lord would purify his people (v. 25) and put a new spirit within them (v. 26). Such will be a spirit, which will lead them to desire to live a holy life, for it will be controlled by the Holy Spirit: “I will put my Spirit within you; I will take the initiative and you will obey my statutes and carefully observe my regulations” (v. 27). Thus the Lord’s concern for his name and the welfare of his people are brought together in God’s gracious deliverance and restoration, and the spiritual cleansing and maturing of his people. Alexander’s remarks are appropriate to all of this: “What a contrast between God’s holiness and grace and humanity’s sin! Sin never deserves mercy. Yet the Lord always deals graciously and mercifully as well as justly.”23
Still further, it is evident in these and the further verses in this passage that there is a verbal allusion to God’s existing covenant with his people. Thus Feinberg observes, “God is said to be sanctified when his character is made evident to the world, especially in and through those who are in covenant relation to him.”24
Indeed, elsewhere Ezekiel does distinctly record prophetic details concerning a new covenant between God and his people. As I have pointed out previously, Ezekiel’s use of the covenant theme is in harmony with one of the dominant theme of the Old Testament:
Much like the inviolable Royal Grant treaties of the ancient Near East, The Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:1-7; 13:14-17; 15:1-18; 17:1-8) was irrevocable. Yet it would be channeled through the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam 7:11-16; 1Chron 17:10-14; 2 Sam. 23:5; Ps. 89:28-39) and ultimately both would find their climax and completion in one grand New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-37; 33:25-26; Ezek. 34:11-14, 22-30; 37: 22-27). 25
Praise the Lord, “Whatever eschatological implications there may be in the age-old promise to Abraham, it is also true that such blessings have already been initiated in Christ (Rom. 4:13-17; 8:14-17; 11:13-32).”26
Moreover, a concerned, caring God will also see to the fulfillment of all of his covenant promises in terms of the New Covenant centered in Christ Jesus, the Lord. As Jesus himself declared in connection with the Last Supper: “This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many, for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28). Paul recalls his words by emphasizing that Jesus is speaking of the New Covenant (1 Cor. 11:25). All believers are indeed now permanently united in one grand New Covenant. Nevertheless, as Israel was to do, they should have a concern for God’s holy name in all they do and say, and be grateful for his constant concern and care for them.
Appropriately, we now turn to examine the theme of God’s concern and care in the New Testament.
Concern and Care in the New Testament
Jesus is perhaps the supreme demonstration of God the Father’s concern and care. Such is shown in Jesus’ oft praying to the Father with the accompanying sense that he is always with him (e.g., John 16:32). Likewise The Apostle Paul was consistently aware of God’s concern and care for him, even in the face of great danger (e.g., Acts 27:21-26). God’s concern for all people is highlighted in his sending of his son Jesus Christ to die for all mankind (cf. John 3:16; 11:25-26; 14:1-3).
The author of Hebrews, building upon Psalm 8:4-6, points out that the Lord’s concern for man is indeed shown in Christ’s coming to die for man, so that people may live eternally through Christ’s sacrifice (Heb. 2:6-8). The eighth Psalm is basically a creation psalm and stresses the importance of man and his role, which God has designed for him within that creation (cf. Ps. 8:4-6). Man has been assigned the highest place. The writer of Hebrews cites these verses saying,
What is man that you think of him, or
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him lower than the angels for a little while.
You crowned him with glory and honor.
You put all things under his control. (Heb. 2:6-8)
Although the term “son of man” (v. 6b) is a parallel term for “man” in verse 6a (cf. Ps. 8:4), it is of interest to note that Daniel employed it of the coming Messiah to whom ultimate authority and control is given (Dan. 7:13-14). Jesus often called himself the “Son of Man” and declares, that one day mankind will “see the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30; cf. Dan. 7:13). Hence, it is not surprising or without precedent that the author of Hebrews would cite Psalm 8:4-6 in referring to Jesus in God’s concern for mankind. As Lightfoot remarks, “Man originally was given dominion. He is still destined to achieve it. But this dominion can only be realized, as the author goes on to say, through the ideal or representative man, Jesus Christ.”27
Indeed, the “Son of Man,” the Messiah, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who is coming both to fulfill his mission, gave his life so that people may live everlastingly (Heb. 2:9-15). As Bruce observes, “Because the Son of Man suffered, because his suffering has been crowned by His exaltation, therefore His death avails for all.”28 The author of Hebrews brings things to a head by saying,
For surely his concern is not for angels, but is concerned for Abraham’s descendants. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in things relating to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people. (Heb. 2:16-17)
As Hughes remarks, “In taking to himself the ‘seed of Abraham’ he shows not only that he belongs to but also that he is the fulfillment of the line of the covenant. The covenant established by God with Abraham is brought to a head and finds its consummation in Christ.” 29 It is also vital to remember that all believers, not just Jews “are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:28-29).
Divine concern for man, especially believers, is reflected in Jesus’ teaching with regard to a concern for one’s “neighbors.” The care and concern one shows or fails to show flow from one’s inner perspective on spiritual concerns and demonstrate one’s relation to the Lord. As Jesus challenged his hearers, may we, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).
Jesus also displayed his concern for his disciples, their spiritual welfare, and their eternal relationship with him. Such is emphasized repeatedly in Jesus’ parting speech to them (John 14-16; see, e.g., John 14:1-7, 25-26; 15:9-17; 16:12-16), which culminates in assuring words:
I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage, I have conquered the world. (John 16:33; cf. 14:27)
Moreover, as in God’s role as a shepherd in the Old Testament demonstrated divine concern and care, so an interesting and significant aspect of the divine caring is portrayed in Christ as shepherd in the New Testament. Here God’s son, Jesus Christ presents himself as the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), while others report that he is the Great Shepherd who sees to the needs of his believing flock (Heb. 13:20-21; cf. 1 Pet: 2:25), and the Chief Shepherd who, having entered Heaven and extended the work of shepherding to “under shepherds,” is coming again for his flock (1 Pet. 5:4). Thus just as divine concern for mankind is demonstrated in God the Father, so also it is seen in God’s son, Jesus Christ. Is this still the case? Having asked the question, “Does Jesus care?” the hymn writer answers this with a resounding. “Yes!”
O yes, He cares—I know He cares!
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.30
As well, continued divine care may be experienced in the ministry of the Holy Spirit in and through the believer (e.g., John 14:16-17; 16:12-16; Rom. 8:15-17, 26-27). To be sure, the divine presence via the indwelling Holy Spirit and the believer’s union with Christ (Gal. 2:20) is an abiding reality and comfort, even as Jesus himself assured his followers: “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
We noted previously that Paul was aware of God’s concern and care for him in his ministry. Paul also expresses his anxious concern for the all the churches (2 Cor. 11:28). So much was this the case that he declares, “Although I am a free man and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people” (1 Cor. 9:19; HCSB). Therefore, whether to Jew or Gentile he could say, “I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some” (v. 22). If Paul could willingly give himself s a “slave” for the Gospel’s sake, he could advise those who were truly slaves in society,
Were you called while a ‘slave’? It should not be a concern to you. But if you can become free, by all means take the opportunity. For who is called by the Lord as a slave is the Lord’s freedman. (1 Cor. 7:21-22; HCSB).
Paul’s basic advice in this section, however, was to surrender everything to the Lord and trust in him and become contented with whatever status he has:
“Each one must live his life in the situation the Lord assigned when God called him. This is what I commanded in all the churches.…. Brothers each person should remain with God in whatever situation he was called” (vv. 17, 24)
Were they slaves of men? Let that not be a major concern, for if they were true believers, “One who is redeemed by Christ, who feels that he belongs to him, that his will is the supreme rule of action, and who performs all his duties, not as a man-pleaser, but as doing service as to the Lord, and not to men… is inwardly free whatever his external relations may be.”31
Similarly, Peter advises his readers to live in humility toward one another, remembering that God has an interest and concern for them (1 Pet. 5:5-6). Therefore, he tells them that as believers they should cast “all your cares on him because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). Indeed, worldly cares seem trivial when we recall that the Lord genuinely has a concern and has a care for his own. Thus in his now classic commentary on 1 Peter Selwyn points out that Peter’s words have been an
“assurance…through the centuries! We need not be concerned by fiery trial or persecution or hatred or abuse, for we have a heavenly Father Who cares for us. Nothing can cross our paths, nothing can touch us, nothing can harm us without His permissive will. Beloved, He cares for us!”32
When we live with a concern for one another, it becomes easier to realize that they have a concern for us. What Joy that can bring! Even Paul could feel this way, for he came to understand fully the Philippians’’ long-held concern for him and his ministry (Phil. 4:11). Therefore, even though he was in prison for the Gospel, he could enthusiastically say, “I have great joy in the Lord because now at last you have expressed your concern for me. (Now I know you were concerned but had no opportunity to do anything)” (Phil. 4:10). More than the sustaining gift, which they had sent to Paul (cf. Phil. 2:20), he was thankful for the realization of their concern for him. May we, as did Paul and Peter, have a concern for our fellow man and be joyfully thankful for their concern and care for us!
Sometimes it seems to us that no one cares or we ourselves are tempted to dismiss any concern for a given situation saying, “Oh, who cares?” The Scriptures reveal that there is someone who always cares; it is the Lord. God is moreover the ultimate source of the believer’s help.
I look up to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
the creator of heaven and earth.
The Lord will protect you in all you do,
now and forevermore. (Ps. 121:1-2, 8)
God’s concern and care are apparent especially in times of great difficulty.33 The Psalms are replete with indications of God’s helpful care for his own: “God is a ‘help and deliverer’ (Ps. 70:5). In Psalm 115 the declaration that God is their ‘help’ and ‘shield’ is said of three different groups (Ps. 115:9-11).”34 Even in times of great suffering and difficulty the believer may be assured of God’s care for his own. Seen in a different perspective, suffering can be a sacred trust from God, bringing the sufferer to full dependence on the Lord and providing a testimony to others of God’s sufficiency at all times (John 9:2-3), Seeing God as he really is not only brings comfort, but hope and rest, for the suffering believer is thus assured that the Lord’s will shall be accomplished to his glory and the believer’s good (Ps. 34:16; 97:10; Prov. 3:7; Eccl. 12:13-14)). Indeed, God’s power and concern are available to the believer to carry the sufferer through his trial (Ps. 23:4; Prov. 15:3; Jer. 17:17-18). The believer may assuredly say,
“I’m never alone to suffer life’s sorrows;
I’m never alone to face any care;
No, never alone through all life’s tomorrows;
He’s always there, each burden to share;
I’m never alone!”
If God is concerned not only for us but his holy name, should we not be concerned for his name and reputation (cf. Ezek. 36:21; Ps. 60:1-2,4; 68:3-6; 100:4; Luke 11:12; James 2:7)? Likewise, should we not be concerned for the very name of Jesus, our Savior and Lord? The Scriptures challenge us with the fact that,
“God exalted him and gave him a name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow-- in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11; cf. Acts 4:12 ).
As the hymn writer exclaims,
“Jesus,” O how sweet the name, “Jesus,” every day the same;
“Jesus,” let all saints proclaim, its worthy name forever.” 35
Therefore, as believers, let us so live as to bring no shame upon that name, but rather, live so as to bear witness to the power of the living Christ as our “hope of glory’ (Col. 1:27).
Thus Paul advises us to live lives that reflect God’s standard of holiness (Col. 3:12-15). He then gives this challenge:
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col. 3:16-17)
As the hymn writer says,
More like Jesus would I be, let my Savior dwell in me;
Fill my soul with peace and love, make me gentle as a dove;
More like Jesus while I go, pilgrim in this world below;
Poor in spirit would I be; let my Savior dwell in me.36
The Lord’s concern and care for those in need should also characterize believers. Jesus was not only a living model for believers in his often meeting their physical needs, but reminded his followers of the necessity for believers to care for all people—whatever their need (Luke 10:30-37; see note 24 on Luke 10:36, NET). Having told the story of the good Samaritan’s concern for the needs of a Jewish man, when two Jewish religious leaders did not, Jesus answered the one who had approached him with question of “who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29) with his own question as to whether he understood the parable (v. 36). When the man’s reply showed that he did, Jesus then admonished him, “Go and do the same” (v. 37).
Let us also remember to be concerned for the needs of all people. This is particularly pertinent in these times of great international turmoil. And as we do so, let us be concerned for the lives and needs of believers everywhere. We are one spiritual body in Christ and, “If one member suffers, everyone suffers with it” (1 Cor. 12:26). In every way, then, as does the Lord let us be those who are concerned and care for the needs of others, and be those who work, fellowship, and be of spiritual assistance to our fellow believers.
If I can do my duty as a Christian ought,
If I can bring back beauty to a world up-wrought,
If I can spread love’s message that the Master taught,
Then my living shall not be in vain.
If I can help somebody as I pass along,
Then my living shall not be in vain.37
1 William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, act II, scene III, line 35.
2 William Henry Davies, “Leisure,” as cited in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, eds., John Bartlett and Justin Kaplan, 16th ed. (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1992), 610.
3 William Howard Taft, as cited in Quotable Quotations, ed. Lloyd Cory (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989), 52.
4 C. Neil Strait, as cited in Quotable Quotations, ibid.
5 John Haynes Holmes, “O God, Whose Smile is in the Sky, “ as cited in Masterpieces of Religious verse, ed. James Dalton Morrison (New York: Harper, 1948), 29.
6 John S. B. Mansell, “Worship the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness,” as cited in Masterpieces ibid, 114.
7 Richard D. Patterson, “A Great God of Grace and Compassion,” Biblical Studies Press, 2013.
8 Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture citations will be from The NET Bible.
9 Patterson, op. cit., 10.
10 See Tyler F.Williams, “pqd,” in New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, ed. Willem A. VanGemeren, 5 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997) 3:661. See further, Williams’ full discussion, pp. 657-63.
11 See the comments in the NET footnote.
12 Richard D. Patterson, Hosea (Richardson, TX: Biblical Studies Press, 2009), 128.
13 Richard D. Patterson, “Hosea,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort, 18 vols. (Carol Stream, Il: Tyndale Hose, 2008) 10:82.
14 Peter C. Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy in The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), 336.
15 See further, Richard D. Patterson, “The Source of True Strength,” Biblical Studies Press, 2013.
16 John E. Hartley, The Book of Job, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 187.
17 See further my comments in the application section.
18 Ibn Ezra as cited in Proverbs, The Soncino Books of the Bible, ed., A. Cohen. rev. ed., A. J. Rosenberg (Jerusalem: The Soncino Press, 1985), 196.
19 Bruce K. Waltke, The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 15-31, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 441.
20 Lamar Eugene Cooper, Sr., Ezekiel, The New American Commentary, ed. E. Ray Clendenen (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1994), 300.
21 “Sheep, Shepherd,” in Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, eds. Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, Tremper Longman III (Downers Grove: 1998), 784).
22 Daniel L. Block, The Book of Ezekiel: Chapters 25-48, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 348-49.
23 Ralph H. Alexander, “ Ezekiel,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, 13 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, rev. ed., 2010) 7: 843.
24 Charles Lee Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel (Chicago: Moody, 1969), 208-09.
25 Patterson, Hosea: An Exegetical Commentary, 26.
26 Patterson, “Hosea,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, 10:17.
27 Neil R. Lightfoot, Jesus Christ Today: A Commentary on the Book of Hebrews (Grand Rapids; Baker, 1976), 74.
28 F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 39.
29 Philip Edgecombe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 118-19.
30 Frank E. Graeff, “Does Jesus Care?”
31 Charles Hodge, An Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), 125.
32 E. Schuyler, The Life and Letters of Saint Peter (New York: Publication Office, “Our Hope,” Arno C. Gaebelein, Inc., 1941), 229.
33 See further, Richard Patterson, “Rest in Troublesome Times,” Biblical Studies Press, 2014.
34 “Help, Helper,” in Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, op. cit., 378.
35 W.C. Martin, “The Name of Jesus.”
36 Fanny Crosby, “More Like Jesus Would I Be.”
37 A. Bazel Androzzo, “If I Can Help Somebody.”
Related Topics: Character of God, Christian Life