The Apple of His Eye
I want to help us to more fully and deeply understand just how much our Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, truly love us – and to show that we must build that understanding into the foundations of our Christian walk.
I want to show God’s great love for mankind and I’ll start by demonstrating God’s great love for ancient Israel, and follow up with showing His great love for His Body, the Church and the individual members that make up that Body. Then I hope to help us really understand that love, accept it, and use it as a means of bearing all things, enduring all things and achieving our goal of becoming as Christ and receiving the greatest gift of all, eternal life.
God loves YOU. Do we really understand that, do we deeply believe it? For most of us, we have had it drummed into us that we are ‘worthless hunks of junk’, and our righteousness is ‘as filthy rags’. Do we really know how God sees us, what our status is with Him?
The joy and real peace of mind that passes all understanding comes from knowing Him, and believing in and rejoicing in His love for you – and me!
As we all know, the physical nation of Israel was a type of the Body of Christ. Stephen, the first martyr in the NT era, called Israel ‘the Church in the Wilderness’.
Acts 7:37-38 "This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. This is he, (CHRIST) that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spoke to him (MOSES) in the mount Sinai, and was with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: (the giving of the 10C to Moses and Israel.)"
Physical Israel, because of its history of trials, sins, punishments, miracles and blessings stands as a pattern for us, and has many lessons for the Church today. It is a continuum – physical Israel leads us to the Body of Christ, the Church. There are many messages for the church today as we look at God’s relationship with Israel.
We need the OT history to give us a fuller perspective of the New.
The NT church only had the OT scriptures after all, and when Paul referred to the Holy Scriptures he was referring to the books of the OT. He says they are able to make us wise unto salvation.
II Timothy 3:15-16 "And that from a child you have known the holy scriptures, (the OT) which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
We can not separate old testament scripture from new testament. The message is the same: – God’s love for us, how He requires us to live and serve Him, and His promises of eternal life – or death.
Let’s look first at God’s relationship with ancient Israel.
Deuteronomy 32:9-10 "For the LORD’S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye."
Israel was very treasured and precious to God. He describes His love for them – they were the apple of His eye.
A classic and moving passage that demonstrates His love for all of us – rescued from our sinful state.
Ezekiel 16:4-14 "And as for your nativity, in the day you were born your navel was not cut, neither were you washed in water to supple you; you were not salted at all, nor swaddled at all. None eye pitied you, to do any of these unto you, to have compassion upon you; but you were cast out in the open field, to the loathing of your person, in the day that you were born. And when I passed by you, and saw you polluted in your own blood, I said unto you when you were in your blood, Live; yea, I said unto you when you were in your blood, Live. I have caused you to multiply as the bud of the field, and you have increased and waxen great, and you art come to excellent ornaments: your breasts are fashioned, and your hair is grown, whereas you were naked and bare. Now when I passed by you, and looked upon you, behold, your time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over you, and covered your nakedness: yea, I swore unto you, and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord GOD, and you became mine. Then washed I you with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away your blood from you, and I anointed you with oil. I clothed you also with broidered work, and shod you with badgers’ skin, and I girded you about with fine linen, and I covered you with silk. I decked you also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon your hands, and a chain on your neck. And I put a jewel on your forehead, and earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown upon your head. Thus were you decked with gold and silver; and your raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; you didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and you were exceeding beautiful, and you did prosper into a kingdom. And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD."
His extreme tenderness, love and care for this lost child, cast out into the wilderness of sin, is so strongly expressed here. He gave them everything they needed to be able to succeed as His model nation.
Isaiah 63:7-9 "I will mention the loving kindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bore them, and carried them all the days of old."
He grieved over them when they sinned so egregiously and He had to punish them. Like a loving Father who corrects His children – as He does with us today.
Psalms 103:8-18 "The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pities his children, so the LORD pities them that fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them."
And we see the same thought in:
Hebrews 12:5-7 "And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, My son, despise not you the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord love he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives. If ye endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens not?"
He loves us so He has to correct us, guide and direct us and help keep us on the straight and narrow. He WANTS us to make it; that is His whole purpose!
We – and Israel - are a peculiar treasure,
Deuteronomy 14:2 "For you are an holy people unto the LORD your God, and the LORD hath chosen you to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth."
What high hopes and expectations He had for this precious child, referred to in other analogies as His wife.
Exodus 19:4-6 "Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak unto the children of Israel."
David says of Israel
Psalms 135:4 "For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure."
Israel was His pride and joy, a priceless treasure. This was the status of Israel in His eyes! Israel was promised a wonderful future, fantastic opportunities to be a light to the world around them - and they promised to do all that He had said.
We can see clearly that God loved and treasured His chosen nation Israel.
Skipping over the rest of tragic history of physical Israel because that is not what we are dealing with today, let us move to us, the saints, the elect, the very sons and daughters of God.
God loves us – He sent His own Precious Son to die for all mankind, every single person.
John 3:16-17 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
God gave His son for us. When one pays the highest price to obtain something, then it stands to reason that the purchaser will take special care of that object. Such is the case with you and me.
Romans 8:32 "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"
He was willing to forgive us for the sins that we committed – and still commit - that necessitated the death of that Son.
I John 4:9-10 "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
In the beginning we didn’t love God, we didn’t know Him, but He loved us and we learn to love. honour, worship, adore and obey Him because of love. And in verse 11, 'Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another'.
Do we comprehend the greatness of that love in our lives, how it impacts on us and on how we should live our lives?
Ephesians 3:14-21 "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."
This is what Paul told the brethren about the love of God – that it is immeasurable.
We are to become His sons – we are, to all intents and purposes, His sons NOW, and heirs of all that Christ has and is.
Romans 8:14-17 "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."
Just as ancient Israel occupied that very special position in God’s sight, so now we as His spiritual children today are His prized possession.
Titus 2:11-14 "For the grace of God that brings salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
We are God’s building with Christ as the chief cornerstone. We are the building blocks – us – we are as gold, silver and precious stone. The building is unique – spiritual, highly treasured and filled with valuable commodities.
I Peter 2:1-6 "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded."
In verse 9 And as He described Israel, so He says of us:
I Peter 2:9 "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:"
Ephesians 2:18-22 "For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit."
I John 3:1-3 "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifies himself, even as he (Christ) is pure."
Through the Holy Spirit in us, we have the ‘genetic dna’ of God himself, if you will, transplanted into us – His mind, His approach, His way of thinking and seeing things. We are in the process of being metamorphosed, transformed from mere human flesh and carnal mindedness to divine, eternal spirit. We will be changed into spirit, like Him, when Messiah returns to earth – His composition, spirit, His likeness. His thoughts and His ways are to become ours.
I Corinthians 15:49 "And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."
We are the jewels in His crown!
Malachi 3:16-17 "Then they that feared the LORD spoke often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spares his own son that serves him."
The apple of His eye!
Psalms 17:8 "Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of your wings,"
David knew and believed what He was to God. We are no different.
We are His friends
John 15:14-15 "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you."
We are the elect of God.
Colossians 3 :12 "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;"
We’ve already mentioned that we are His temple, His friends, we are His children, His sons, a royal priesthood, a peculiar treasure, an heir. God loves us – He loved us first. We learn to love Him, but in that process of growth in grace and knowledge and being transformed, we must never lose sight of the fact that He LOVES us.
Knowing and understanding that He does love us develops our faith, our trust, our sense of security, our peace of mind. We are going to have trials, tests, corrections, sometimes fiery trials – but sometimes, during those times, it is easy to feel that God has left us, to question whether we have enough faith, wonder what we have done wrong, does God even exist…... ??
Build into our foundation the fact, the knowledge, the awareness that God LOVES us and we can survive anything.
When we become part of the Body of Christ, through baptism and receiving His spirit, we become like Him, casting off the old man, and putting on the new.
We actually relinquish our independence, our own self-image in favour of allowing Christ to grow within us. Our dependence on ourself, on our own self-image, our own abilities, our own will becomes subject to Him. This is the real freedom because we lean on Him and let Him mould us and shape us – as the clay pot transformed into objects of great beauty, through Christ in us, for His purpose and His use.
This is what yielding to Him is all about. We are to let Him mould and shape us into what HE wants, not holding on to self! We learn to let go of worries and anxieties. Or course this takes time – a lifetime! But we aren’t really losing anything – just our ego, our own self-will, our foibles and weaknesses, our carnality and sinfulness.
Because we are now God’s delight, His pride and joy – when He sees us, He sees Christ in us. He knows our weaknesses, doubts and fears and works with us, individually, to help us overcome them. That is His love for us – that He accepts us, doesn’t cast us aside as a ‘useless hunk of junk’ – but sees what we can be, what we WILL be through His love and the transformation that will take place – from caterpillar to butterfly!
We have to let ourselves believe God loves us – always, for ever! It will not change. His plan and purpose, His love expressed through His laws are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. What He said yesterday He will say tomorrow.
So often our own sins, shortcomings, failings and weaknesses make us doubt that God could still love us. We’ve all experienced that, I am sure. We must try not to let the past or present conditions rob us of the joy and peace of mind that comes from resting in the love of God. Praise God for it, thank Him for it, and leap for joy, secure in that knowledge of His promises, and His love for YOU and me.
God tells us that we have been given the opportunity for spiritual life, and to be one of His own divine children and the inheritors of everything He possesses. As we saw in:
Romans 8:17 "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."
Do we feel that way about ourselves in relation to God? Do we have that special feeling of being loved, and prized by the almighty God, our Father? It must go beyond intellectual awareness, beyond being an abstract notion.
We have to believe in God’s love for us; we have to allow ourselves to accept it; we must be willing to receive it: then, when we accept that you and I are very precious, so special, so desired by God then we will find true and peace of mind and joy.
It is important that we assess our relationship with our Father. His love for us is so special, so strong and He cares so much for us that we should be full of joy and peace and faith. It is something that we may have to pray about, to be aware of and be able to accept and incorporate into our lives. If we ask Him to help us, He will do so.
As with ancient Israel, He gives us everything we need to be able to succeed in our goal of attaining the fullness of the stature of Christ.
Times are getting tougher, every day. The Body seems even more divided sometimes. The full assurance of knowing who you are, allowing God’s love for YOU to colour your thoughts, actions and deeds, to fill you with inspiration and growing in grace and knowledge through it, will be one of the chief means of attaining that peace that passes all understanding so that we can come through the dark days ahead – and to receive eternal life, be there to help all the rest of mankind through the Millennium and the resurrection to judgement and on into that 8th day of eternity!
Love God and accept His love for you into your heart and life – and grown in grace, knowledge and peace.
Romans 8:31-39 "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."