Under His Wings

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You can almost hear His heart break.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37).

A historian would have known what Jesus was referring to as He looked over the city during that last week before the journey to the cross. The Lord knew all the details of that history because He had been there during the period recorded for us as the Old Testament. He knew how often the nation called by His Name had rejected its God and His messengers.

History was about to repeat itself once more.

The picture in this verse is one of the most poignant in Scripture; and the only maternal image of God that we have. Our most intimate view of God is as our Father. But here Jesus described the image of a mother protecting her young even at the cost of her own life.

But then the shocking statement: “...but you were not willing.” If any verse reminds us of our freedom of choice, it is this one. Our love for God is not coerced. Neither is our obedience. It is given to Him willingly or it is not given at all.

Jesus knew what was coming for His people. They should have learned from their own history the cost of turning their back on their God. But like them, we don’t learn from our history and tend to repeat it. The Lord knew that just a few short years after His death the Roman army would come in and crush Jerusalem and all her inhabitants—God’s judgment on a rebellious people. That would be only the beginning of the struggle that continues to this day.

How different would have been the end of the story if God’s people had run to Jesus and allowed Him, like that mother hen, to gather them under His protective wings. How different would be our history if we did the same.

A classic hymn, written by William O. Cushing, 1823–1902, comes to mind:

Under His wings I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.

Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.

Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blessed.

Under His wings, oh, what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life's trials are o'er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus, I'm safe evermore.

But the question always arises: Am I willing?


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