The Hound of Heaven

By Bill Brenner

In 1883 English poet Francis Thompson wrote al Christian poem with an unusual title, "The Hound of Heaven." Thompson compared God's pursuit of man with a hound following right after a hare, continuing tirelessly, as it gets ever nearer in the chase. He describes human nature as a tendency to hide from God, while divine grace follows right behind until the pressure finally forces us to turn to Him bringing the chase to an end.

The poem has been loved by many for over a century, but seems to completely miss the true character of Almighty God. Instead, it rather seems contrary to what God reveals about Himself in Scripture. Chasing implies having a needy, inherent weakness, like one who has lost control over the behavior of others he is responsible for, with little or no ability to draw others to him, or possessing no qualities that would normally attract loyal followers. Does that sound like Almighty God? The Bible tells us that God is self-sufficient, and never created man to satisfy loneliness or fill a void in His character. He has always been complete and perfect. He does not need to chase us to get our attention.

Why then did God create man? He did it out of pure love, expecting nothing in return. Love gives freely and completely. But then, if God does not actually need us, why would God insist that we worship Him? Simply because He alone is worthy of our worship. He wants us to acknowledge His power and glory as the creator of all things.

What God offers us is a personal relationship with Him. All relationships require faith and we never fully know any other person. We cannot completely experience what they do nor can we enter into their minds to know their thoughts and emotions. Proverbs 14:10 says, "The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy." We are incapable of even knowing our own hearts fully. Jeremiah 17:9 says that the human heart is wicked and deceptive, "Who can know it?" The human heart seeks to hide the depth of its wickedness, deceiving itself by shifting blame, justifying wrong behavior, and minimizing our sins.

Those without faith in God are spiritually dead. We know that dead people are incapable of doing anything, and that seems to be true for those who are spiritually dead. So how do people acquire faith? Is it through logical reasoning and evidence? No, it is revealed to us through the Word of God and given to us as a gift from the Holy Spirit. We have no ability to believe in God without being empowered to believe in Him supernaturally through God's Spirit. We did not chase God to receive this faith, but were led to it according to the calling of God. So God does not chase us, but does make Himself available so that the calling of the Holy Spirit is received and followed.

That's quite different than either God chasing us or us chasing God. Neither of those is true. On a human level, men love their sins, not God. We crave to sinfully do anything we want, even if God condemns it. We begin in a spiritually dead state and we need to be brought to life through spiritual means in order to discover and desire a relationship with God. If we have so much difficulty understanding other people, how impossible it is to completely know an infinite God. But we are offered a relationship with God that will bring us close.

Those who trust God trust him to act in their best interest at all times. Faith in God's Word not only shows us that He knows us completely, but gives us solid reasons to know that He will never betray us.

Our knowledge of God and His character, is revealed in several ways: Through His creation (Romans 1:18-21), through His written Word, the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:16-21), and through His Son Jesus Christ (John 14:9).

This can only be possible once the barrier of one's sin is removed by trusting in Christ's person and work on the cross as payment for one's sin. Until then, a relationship is not possible with God, since God cannot allow sin to enter heaven. God's jealousy is not the sinful envy that people experience out of pride. It is a holy and righteous jealousy that cannot allow the glory due only to Him to be given to man's selfish desires.

Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, died on the cross to take our punishment and change us so that the one who believes on Him can become a child of God and live eternally in His presence (John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 2 Peter 3:18; Romans 3:10-26). God will not chase us or demand our worship. He does have the right, however, to expect it. Those who do not worship the true and living God are not His, and their eternal destiny is hell. But true worshipers are identified by their worship of God, and their eternal home is with the God they worship and adore.

Image Credit: monicore; untitled; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Salvation  | Biblical-Truth  | False-Teaching  | God-Father  | Theological-Beliefs

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Published 10-28-15