The Bible is filled with puzzling paradoxes. There are many examples of this in scripture and understanding requires thorough study and examination of the context. Several times the Word tells us that YHWH will never leave us nor forsake us. Paul emphasizes this truth exclaiming that nothing can separate us from the love of the Messiah. Romans 8: 38-39 – For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.
If He never leaves us and nothing in heaven or earth can separate us from His love, why do we sometimes sense great distance between us and our Heavenly Father? The whole point of the 40 days of preparation is to bridge this distance. Zechariah gives us a clue of what we need to do in chapter 1: 3 “Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says YHWH of hosts, “Return to Me,” declares YHWH of hosts, “that I may return to you,” says YHWH of hosts.
It is important to remember that God does not separate from us—we separate from Him. Isaiah 59: 2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden [His] face from you so that He does not hear. The prophet Hosea describes the same scenario in chapter 5: 4 Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God. We are sentient beings created in God’s image but we have a will that is under our control.
In Luke 15 some of the religious Jews complained about Yeshua because tax collectors and irreligious Jews were coming to listen to him, and he was sitting down with them. Yeshua responds to their criticism with three of the greatest stories in the New Testament. First, he tells of a sheep that wanders away from a flock of 100 and gets hopelessly lost. The shepherd leaves the 99 and searches until he finds the lost sheep. Rejoicing greatly, he restores him to the flock. Then he regales them with a tale of a woman with 10 coins who loses one. She tears the house apart and searches every nook and cranny until she locates the lost coin. When she finds the lost coin, she calls her friends, and they celebrate together.
Then Yeshua relates a very different story. The younger son of a father with a great estate comes to his father and asks for his share of the inheritance prematurely. This is an extremely dishonoring request which basically tells his father that he wishes his father were dead. He then takes his wealth to a distant country and “squanders it on loose living.” Finally, friendless and bereft of money he comes to his senses. Startled to think that his father’s servants are living a much better life than he is, he starts for home. He prepares a speech for his father. In it he confesses he has sinned against his father and heaven and is no longer worthy to be the father’s son. But his father sees him from a “long way off” and runs to embrace him and kiss him. Ignoring the nonsense that he is no longer his son; the father puts the royal robe on him and prepares a feast for him. He gathers his entire household to celebrate that his son who was dead has come home and is now alive.
Sometimes in our walk with YHWH we unknowingly wander off the path. He faithfully comes and retrieves us and brings us back into the fold. There are other times when we intentionally disobey and purposely shun Him and His ways. We never stop being his child. He is our Father. But we must come to our senses and [shuv] turn back to Him. Even from a “long way off” he runs to meet us and restore our relationship. Our actions create the separation—it is not our Father leaving us.
As scripture affirms so many times–repentance and life are intimately connected. If we find a vast chasm opening between us and our loving Father sometimes it pays to review our actions and see if we have intentionally walked away from Him. He will never leave us nor forsake us but restoration in some instances requires a “coming to our senses” and purposefully returning to Him. He will never fail to welcome us with open arms.