With their flocks and herds
They shall go to seek the LORD,
But they will not find Him;
He has withdrawn Himself from them.
Have you thought about when the Lord “withdraws” Himself? We read in this passage that the people of Israel and Judah will come with their flocks and herds to seek the Lord, but they will not find Him because He has withdrawn Himself.
Why has the Lord withdrawn Himself when the people have come seeking the Lord? It can seem the opposite of what God would have done. The reason is further understood when we read Hosea 5:15 saying “I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.”
You see, the people did not come with a repentant heart. They did not acknowledge their guilt and did not earnestly seek the Lord. Often this is how we approach the Lord. We want an immediate need fulfilled without actual repentance of the heart. We do not
earnestly seek the Lord.
This un-repentance is why Isaiah 1:15 says “When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.”
Sometimes we make the very same mistake as Israel and Judah. We walk in sin, we walk in the ways of the world, and when the Lord brings discipline into our lives, we seek the Lord. Not because of a heart of repentance but because of a selfish need. The need for relief from the present problem, which the Lord has brought about as discipline. We even fail to realise that it is the discipline of the Lord.
Friends, take a moment to examine your hearts. What is your real intention when you come before the Lord? Is it the need for an immediate blessing, or is it the need to fulfil an urgent need rather than hunger and thirst for the presence of God. That is why Proverbs 15:8 says “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.”
When you come before Jesus Christ go to Him because you love Him, first and foremost. A love where your heart is fixed on Him as the treasure of your life; it is then you truly have a relationship with God. When you begin to know who He is by the reading of the word and time spent in prayer. Hosea 6:3 says “Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”
When you “press on” to know the Lord, with a pursuing heart, then He will come to you as the showers and as the spring rains that water the earth. Pursue the knowledge of the Lord. Press on to seek Him and hunger after Him. Then the LORD will no longer withdraw Himself when you come with the right heart. Then He will come like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth. What a blessing it is when His presence is with you, and He comes like the rain to you.
This is what the Lord desires. Hosea 6:6 says “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” So, instead of coming to the Lord with sacrifices, like your good deeds, or perceived worship, or giving, go to Him with steadfast love.
In conclusion, the Lord withdraws Himself from false worship and a deceptive heart. But when you come to Him with a spirit of love and humbleness, then He is pleased, and He will not withdraw from you. In closing let us read Mark 12:33 “And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”