Have you ever watched a dog follow his nose?
While he follows the scent, nostrils flaring, the occasional snort to clear his senses, his tail is like a flag on a flimsy pole. Every so often, you encounter a hound who chases his tail and goes in circles. But when a canine is on the trail, his nose is down and his tail waves about in exhilaration.
There is the concept of the tail wagging the dog. In fact, there was a movie with a similar title a few years back. The metaphor is meant to describe those who approach life backward. It’s meant to illustrate irrational behavior, and it works because we’ve seen dogs who follow their nose and we’ve seen dogs who chase their tails.
Let a dog outside—even the sight hounds—and their nose starts working. It’s what you expect. Watching a dog work is a pleasure, even though you only know in general terms what they are going to do. But knowing they are going to use their nose is predictable because it’s what dogs do.
Not to be disparaging in the least, but there are aspects of God that are predictable. There are some ways in which you know generally what He is going to do, and there are many ways in which God can’t be categorized. In fact, Isaiah noted God’s saying, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (ref. 55:9).
It’s hardly a news flash to say that you can’t figure out what God is going to do most of the time. After all, He’s God and you aren’t. But this isn’t to say there aren’t aspects of God that are predictable. In another place, scripture describes God as unchanging (Mic. 7:18). In another, it says He is the same day in and day out (Heb. 13:8).
In those aspects of His character and behavior where God is unchanging, He is so for good reason: He wants to be predictable, methodical, consistent, dependable, categorical—perhaps even boring.
In Romans 1:16, Paul writes, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
“…to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” We can argue God’s choice and valuation, but in another article and place. For now, scripture says God chose the Jews as His people. Who knows why?
What matters is that we have a case study to examine what it looks like to be God’s people. The most complete historical document in the world—the Bible—happens to contain a robust record of Jewish history. From Abraham to present no people occupies more historical space and study than the Jews.
The good news is that we have a lot of historical evidence to consider. The bad news is that the Jews have proven a difficult people throughout history—difficult to study, difficult to understand, difficult given the tragedies that have plagued them, and difficult because they have been challenging to work with.
Candidly, if I was God I would have gotten fed up with the Jews a long time ago. I would have been hard-pressed to come up with a deserving replacement in that we are all recalcitrant, but nevertheless, I think I would have gotten a new people.
That’s not the way God works though, and that is precisely the point that I wish to make. God remains faithful and takes care of what’s His. And he does so regardless!
Even though the Jews arranged and superintended the killing of His Son, Jesus, rejected the prophets, behaved like hammerheads in the wilderness, chased after other gods, consistently forgot the lessons of their lives, routinely scoffed at God’s promises—essentially questioning His integrity and veracity—and demonstrated a profound propensity to live independently of God, still God remains faithful to them. It is quite a tale.
If God was to come to me for counsel about His love life, I would tell Him to find another love. In fact, I would tell Him that the fact that He continues to chase after a people who so consistently spurn His advances indicates a flaw in Him that needs therapeutic intervention. Never mind the object of His affections.
Of course, before we rush to throw God’s people—the Jews—under the bus, we need to remember that the message of salvation is that we are now chosen, called, and set apart to God as His people. And as people who reverence the truthfulness of scripture, we must recall that Isaiah stated, “All of us like sheep have gone astray” (53:6a).
To note Israel’s unfaithfulness and not our own is like the pot calling the kettle black. We are all at the same point of need, and if we are self-aware, at our wits end if God reneges on His character of faithfulness. That's next.