Thursday, July 30, 2015

Living in Beulah Land


Scripture:

Isaiah 62:4
No longer will they call you Deserted,
    or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,
    and your land Beulah;
for the Lord will take delight in you,
    and your land will be married.

Observation:

The prophet could see a day in which the Israelites would be completely restored.  What would that restoration be like?  Her land would no longer be deserted, nor would it be filled with ruins.  Instead, the land would again be filled with God's people -- the people being called "Hephzibah" -- I delight in you.  This was the name of King Hezekiah's wife, and the two of them represented a period of faithfulness in loving and serving the Lord.  God would again delight in his own people!  The land itself would be restored and would be known as "Beulah" -- which means married, and it would be consecrated to God -- married to him.  This is the picture of restoration for all the people of God.

Application:


Today happens to be our 32nd wedding anniversary and it's a time when I reminisce about the years that Chuck and I have spent together.  In reminiscing I pulled up this blog entry from two years ago. I’m sharing with you some of what I wrote a couple of years ago with a few updates along the way.

Our life journey has been beyond anything we could have ever imagined.  God is an adventuresome God!  On the day we married we also would never have imagined what our relationship would become.  Our love for one another and our partnership in life is more than anything we could have ever imagined.  I would say that we embrace the language of "Hephzibah" and we are glad to be living in "Beulah Land."

I find it interesting that throughout the Bible we are continually drawn back into marriage imagery.  The Bible opens with a scene of marriage between the original couple, Adam and Eve.  Throughout the word we see God loving his people and drawing them into a covenant relationship with him.  Sadly humanity continues to commit adultery and the relationships crumble. 

In Christ we find a renewed covenant, one into which we have been invited and where we again find Beulah land, for in this new relationship we are invited to become the bride of Christ.  Often we see this metaphor as referring to the Church, but it is also an invitation for us as individuals. 

We hear the language so often these days as the church in exile. These are troublesome days and yet, as the Church, we are to be the faithful bride of Christ.  The Church is to behave in such a way that the Bridegroom would delight in her.  Whether in exile or not. The Israelites had been unfaithful to the Lord and the prophets were constantly calling them back to fidelity. 

I think that we would have to challenge ourselves and ask whether the Church in exile is being faithful to her relationship with her Bridegroom?  I'm afraid that too much focus and attention has been paid on the Bride!  Could it be that modern culture has done that as well?  Look at all the crazy TV shows about "Bridezilla" or "Say Yes to the Dress!"  What's wrong with this?  What's wrong is the focus which is not on the marriage relationship but on what the bride wants!  Too many are not concerned about the marriage that will come after the wedding, but on the party at the wedding being "spectacular."  Wow -- how far can that analogy go to the Church?  Could it be that the Church has become too focused on being "spectacular" that she has left the Bridegroom standing all alone out in the foyer wondering whether anyone even cares whether he is there or not? 

The decay of marriage within the culture may signify something happening at an even deeper level.  Could it be that the self-centeredness of humanity doesn't allow us to be in, or make a commitment such as marriage?  And when this happens, then we see moral decay across the spectrum.  But what about this covenant on a personal level, one between Christ and me?  As a teenager I remember hearing the song, "Beulah Land."  It sounds like an old southern Gospel song, but it was actually written by Squire Parsons in the 1970's (during my teen years). 

I'm kind of homesick for a country
to which I've never been before.
No sad goodbyes will there be spoken,
And time won't matter anymore
Beulah Land I'm longing for you,
and someday on thee I'll stand.
There my home shall be eternal.
Beulah Land... sweet Beulah Land
I'm looking now across that river
to where my faith is gonna end in sight.
Theres just a few more days to labor,
Then I'll take, my heavenly flight
Beulah Land I'm longing for you,
and someday on thee I'll stand.
There my home shall be eternal.
Beulah Land, Sweet Beulah land

The truth about Beulah Land is that we can experience her now -- not some time in the future.  Christ is inviting us into this marriage relationship with him that is beyond anything that we can experience here on this earth and it is available to us today.  This is a relationship in which we are entirely committed to him, through and through.  But, it goes even deeper.  We can enter into Beulah land in the present and experience the very nature of Christ, his holy love, as it permeates every part of our being as we walk in fidelity to our relationship with him.  This is holiness!  And then our beloved looks at us and says, "You are my Hephzibah, I take great delight in you."

May we long for Beulah land each and every single day of our walk with him. 

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for the blessing of 32 years of marriage, which is simply a shadow of the relationship I can have with you.   Amen.


Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.



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