The Mother Heart of God
Text: Isaiah 66
Proposition: The longings of being a mother are God directed, the love of a mother is but a small expression of the love of God.
Introduction: Not every woman is a mother and not every woman who is a mother has given birth but every woman has a mother. There are children, young girls only 12 and 13 years old who are mothers to their younger brothers and sisters because Aids has taken both their parents. They are not mothers by choice but they have each known the heart and arms of their own mother. In the darkest and most hopeless of places God uses motherhood to bring sense to insanity, to bring comfort to the terrified and hope to the lonely. There is a little booklet called Kande that has been translated by Wycliffe into over 178 different languages in Africa and other parts of the world. It tells the story of a little girl who has lost both parents to Aids. In a country like the Democratic Republic of Congo where the UN estimates that between 450,000 to 560,000 are infected with Aids this little book has become a critical tool to help educate the people of the remote villages on how this deadly virus spreads. The point is the people connect to the story because of how childhood has been stolen from a young girl, they see the way Aids spreads and they see the chaos it causes and they see the fragile hope of motherhood being put into this young girls hands. Not every woman is a mother and not every woman who is a mother has given birth, but every woman has a mother.
Hannah Whitall Smith lived in the United States in the 1850’s. She was born into a Quaker family but later became a Wesleyan preacher and was one of the leaders behind the Keswick Convention. There was a passage of Scripture that she read one day from the last chapter of the book of Isaiah. It spoke of how God’s love for all people was like a mother’s love for her children. "For thus says the Lord: Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. Then you shall feed. On her sides shall you be carried, and dandled on her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you." (Isa. 66:12-13). After reading that Scripture, this is what Hannah Whitall Smith wrote “My children have been the joy of my life. I cannot imagine more exquisite bliss than comes to one sometimes in the possession and companionship of a child. To me there have been moments, when my arms have been around my children, that have seemed more like what the bliss of heaven must be than any other thing I can conceive of; and I think this feeling has taught me more of what God’s feelings towards his children are than anything else in the universe. If I, a human being with limited capacity, can find such joy in my children, what must God, with his infinite heart of love, feel towards his; In fact most of my ideas of the love and goodness of God have come from my own experience as a mother, because I could not conceive that God would create me with a greater capacity for unselfishness and self-sacrifice than He possessed Himself; and since this discovery of the mother heart of God I have always been able to answer every doubt that may have arisen in my mind, as to the extent and quality of the love of God, by simply looking at my own feelings as a mother.”
Motherhood is what God has designed for every person to be nurtured by, even orphans, even runaways and even those women who aren’t mothers themselves.
Have a look at Isaiah 66 with me, the mother heart of God towards all peoples.
I. Knowing Who God Is Helps Us to Understand What God Seeks.
The context of this chapter is the return of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon, it speaks about what God earnestly desires of them in terms of their worship and relationship to Him. It speaks of how He will restore Jerusalem, of how He will judge those who mock faith in Him. It speaks of an everlasting heaven and an everlasting hell and yet it speaks of tenderness towards those who seek Him. For generations the Jews had come to believe that the Temple was the place that God was most glorified in, that the magnificence of its size and structure would be what really interested God. Imagine their shock when God says to them that Temple is not what He is most interested in. After all, what is the size and magnificence of the Temple to a God who is greater than the heavens. Look at how this chapter starts, “Thus says the LORD: "Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist," Says the LORD. "But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.”
Sometimes we can become consumed with the idea that we need to get it all right before God will ever be interested in us. Perhaps it’s a belief that we need to achieve greatness before we will be entitled to love. Yet what God says is that the one that catches His attention is the one who is ‘poor and of a contrite spirit’. I remember Jesus saying something similar in Matthew 5, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God.” It’s those who know they are bankrupt in spirit, broke, without proof of good, aware of the depth of their own sin. It’s these who admit their poverty that God’s eye especially sees. It’s those who are contrite of heart, literally contrite means to be lame in the feet, unable to do it on my own, it’s those whom the eye of God looks upon to be with. Perhaps we see the same in the heart of our mothers, it’s not the proud or sufficient ones that her heart reaches out to, it’s the one who knows their need of help. It’s like the story of the mother who had twelve children and was asked which one she loved the best. Her answer: "The one who’s sick until he gets well; and the one who is away until he gets back home!"
When you see this heart of God you begin to understand what He seeks, it’s not performance or production or perfection… it’s the poor in spirit, an open heart to receive what He so earnestly desires to give, to love you as His own.
II. Outward Appearances Won’t Cut It With God, When He Speaks Listen.
In the book of Malachi it describes how the people brought wounded animals, lame animals as the ones they would sacrifice at the altar for their sin. They brought little or nothing as an offering to God which showed their contempt of heart. On the outside it looked like compliance and obedience but the reality of what they were offering was not lost on God, He saw their contempt and laziness. God says that they chose to do this, it wasn’t just something that happened. “So will I choose their delusions, and bring their fears on them because, when I called, no one answered. When I spoke they did not hear but they did evil before My eyes and chose that in which I do not delight." It might be an amazing thing to you that God would actually call to you…that He would speak specifically to you. If our mothers called out to us to come in for supper, to get ready for school, to get ready for bed, then much more so has God called us in all these ways and more. But if you still are unconvinced in verse 5 Isaiah says, “Hear the word of the LORD, You who tremble at His word…”, if you will handle the Word of God as if it were dynamite, as if it were air from an oxygen tank 50 feet beneath the surface, as if it were a flickering light on a dark path, if you will tremble at the need of His word, then hear what it says. It will be loud and continuous like the noise from a city, it will be commanding like a voice from the Temple, it will be the voice of the Lord with Whom is all justice and this is what He says… “Before she was in labor, she gave birth, before her pain came, she delivered a male child.” In the context of this passage God is speaking about how Israel managed to get free from Babylon. Was it by a fight or a rebellion? No, it was by a Persian king named Cyrus whom God used to just let them go. No labor, they were born again as a nation by grace. In other words if you will just move towards God and tremble at His word, He will move towards you with great grace. It will take time and there will be a process to it, it won’t be instantaneous, a nation is not born in one moment. But God is faithful, if you will humble yourself and seek Him, He will follow through in His grace. “Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?" says your God.”
Then come these series of metaphors of a child being loved by their mother, of being nurtured by her, of being carried on her side, of being bounced on her knees, of being comforted in a way that only her hands and touch and voice can bring.
It’s Mother’s Day, a time to honor and remember the love of those who have carried us on their side, bounced us upon their knee and we’ve heard their soothing words. This love of our mothers is meant to move our face upwards, from their face, to seek the face of God and to know the mother heart of God.