But in their distress they turned to the Lord God of Israel, and they sought Him, and He let them find Him, (15:4).
Three times, this detail of God Letting His children find Him is reiterated. To me, the repeats in Scripture are like fog horns sounding from a lighthouse. Between the shining beacon of light and the sound that cuts through the fog, they cannot (and must not) be ignored.
“…And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him…” (15:2).
…they sought Him, and He let them find Him, (15:4).
…with their whole heart and had sought Him earnestly, and He let them find Him… (15:15).
And I just couldn’t get away from this idea of God Letting Himself Be Found.
Images surfaced of my two youngest grandchildren, three-year-old twins Eleanora and Asher, and their passion for the game, Hide-and-Seek. When I visit, it does not take long before I hear one, if not both in unison, initiate the request, “SoSo find us!” And since I only live two houses away from them, it is a request I hear often.
The giggles of delight that accompany their appeal make it impossible to avoid compliance. And thus, our game begins. When they hide, laughter and loud whispers always give their hiding place away, and typically I find them as wiggling lumps, barely concealed under their blankets. Then it is my turn to hide. Now, if I so chose, I could ensure they would never be able to find me, but what would be the fun in that? I love them, and I know finding me brings a reward of inexpressible joy to my three-year-olds. But the truth is, they only find me because I let them.
And that is the only reason we are ever able to find Him; He Lets Himself Be Found. As I pulled up parallel translations on biblehub.com (great study tool, by the way), I was honestly kind of surprised to see that most other versions translate the phrase as, He was found by them; without mentioning the cause of this great Find.
I pulled up Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance in hopes of finding some clarity.
Found: 4672. מָצָא māṣāʾ: A verb meaning to find, attain. The verb is employed in both the active and passive senses (to be found). In addition, it is also used in a causative sense, to cause to find…[emphasis added].”
It is more than plausible to deduce that the causative sense is in use. For while the Lord instructed His children to actively seek Him, and they did so; if there was to be any Finding, He, and only He, would be the cause; in other words, He Lets Himself Be Found.
Consider Him Who Lets Himself Be Found
This thought, this fact, this reality that He Lets Himself Be Found goes beyond the mere Letting; for actually He is the sole initiator of any inclination we ever have to seek Him.
The wonder of Him allowing the likes of us to find Him is inconceivable. But when we consider that it is Holy God Who actually initiates the desire. Well… shouldn’t it be us; shouldn’t we jump at the chance to seek Him?
But Scripture is clear. We only come to Him because He draws us.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness,” (Jeremiah 31:3).
“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day,” (John 6:44).
And in His drawing, He is the One Who initiates our seeking.
- As we seek Him, He lets Himself Be Found.
- and he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: the Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him…” (15:2).
- In our distress, He lets Himself Be Found.
- “For many days Israel was without the true God and without a teaching priest and without law. 4 But in their distress they turned to the Lord God of Israel, and they sought Him, and He let them find Him, (15:3-4).
- In our joy and devotion, He lets Himself Be Found.
- All Judah rejoiced concerning the oath, for they had sworn with their whole heart and had sought Him earnestly, and He let them find Him… (15:15).
- As we seek Him with all our heart, He Lets Himself Be Found.
- You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord… (Jeremiah 29:13-14).
- And in His Son, Jesus Christ, He Lets Himself Be Found.
- “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him,” (Matthew 11:27).
How do we respond to Him Who Lets Himself Be Found?
“…the Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you,” (15:2).
This verse may appear to contradict our New Testament theology. But God does not change and Scripture is clear; when we place our faith in the Son, Jesus Christ, and His sacrifice on the cross for our sins to receive His salvation, we are eternally secure in Him. Jesus, Himself, declared this to be true.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one,” (John 6:27-30).
So what might be the application for believers in Christ regarding the prophet, Azariah’s warning? “…the Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you,” (15:2).
The Lord invites us to join Him, to be with Him. As we pursue Him and His purpose and will, He is with us in those pursuits. And we know that we are kept in Him forever, and that He will never forsake us.
…for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” (Hebrews 13:5).
So how might we understand what is meant for the believer in Christ by Azariah’s words, “but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you,”
Forsake: 5800. עָזַב ʿāzaḇ: A verb …to leave, to abandon, to forsake, to loose. It can be used to designate going away to a new locale… or to separate oneself from another person,” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.
We would never expect Him to come along side us in a mutinous rebellion against His reign in our lives. Forsaking Him, would in a very real sense be loosening ourselves from His hand of wisdom, guidance and protection. And sadly, all to often, we do exactly that.
But we can take courage from the countless events in Scripture; the numerous times He responded with His grace and mercy when His rebellious children found themselves in deep distress, and finally they turned to Him in faith. He Let Himself Be Found. He even told them it was coming.
The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the Lord drives you. 28 There you will serve gods, the work of man’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. 29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the Lord your God and listen to His voice. 31 For the Lord your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them, (Deuteronomy 4:27-31).
(Psalm 107 offers a concise history of His children’s cyclical forsaking, finding themselves in distress, and turning back to Him in seeking His deliverance. Also consider the book of Judges.)
The woeful reality is, we are each so easily disposed to loosening our grip. But when we come to Him in humility and repentance, He is faithful to Let Himself Be Found.
When we find ourselves in distress, without peace and afflicted on every side, it’s a good time for self-examination.
“In those times there was no peace to him who went out or to him who came in, for many disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands. 6 Nation was crushed by nation, and city by city, for God troubled them with every kind of distress,” (15:5-6).
Today, are we finding ourselves in any state of distress as a result of loosening our grip on Him?
While distress can certainly be brought on by circumstances beyond our control (such as a pandemic), when we allow the circumstances to rule our thoughts and emotions, we loosen our grip of faith.
While faith is His gift of grace, the truth is, faith is also hard work. We are called to work out in this life, what He alone has worked within us.
…work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure, (Philippians 2:12-13).
Working out our salvation with fear and trembling resembles a passionate seeking of Holy God. And while it may be work, it is actually a result of love; a love that can never get over His love; a love in awe that He Lets Himself Be Found.
And as we grow in our love, we will grow in our trust. Working out our salvation with fear and trembling acknowledges that distress and suffering may come, but our love and faith suffer not. As we devote ourselves to seeking Him, anxiety is driven back and replaced by joy.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul, (Psalm 94:19).
He calls us to passionately and courageously work out our faith through a love relationship that seeks Him in obedience.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments,” (John 14:15).
And with His call to seek Him will all our heart, comes His promise of reward!
“But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work,” (15:7).
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him, (Hebrews 11:6).
What greater reward can there be than Finding Him Who Lets Himself Be Found. And when He Lets us Find Him, we find His freedom from distress in His Rest.
So the Lord gave them rest on every side. (15:15).
When life is challenging, and trouble seems to find us on every side, let us choose to seek Him in His Word, each and every day; that we would rest in Him Who Lets Himself Be Found.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened,” (Matthew 7:7-8).
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light, (Matthew 11:28-30).