Part I of our Series on Visiting and Remembering
God showing up where before there was no one; life showing up where before there was nothing; deep care where before there was neglect; correction where before there was open sin.
“Visit” in the Hebrew, paqad, means “to personally inspect and pay close attention to.” Think of a general inspecting troops in the field and then stopping to talk with one particular soldier.
Amazingly, visitation is even more intimate than that!
In the New Testament, “visit” is typically the Greek episkeptomai, meaning “to examine with the eyes.” This is not about showing up to shoot the breeze or make small talk. John Wesley called it “close conversation.”
As author Amy L. Sherman notes, in the Bible visitation means something even more than inspection. God visits human beings who are soul-sick and languishing in the prison of sin, widowed and orphaned by the father of lies.
In I Samuel 2:21, God “visits” barren Hannah—and the result is that she is enabled to have five children. You’ll recall that God had graciously given Hannah the gift of a son, Samuel, whom she dedicated back to the Lord. God has more that he wants to do for barren Hannah, and so He “visits” her and she conceives new life.
The visitation of God imparts life!
Scripture portrays God visiting human beings in distress who cry out to him. As we’ll talk about later on this month, when God calls us to visit those in prison, we can look to him as the perfect example: he made the first prison visit ever recorded in the Bible. He looks in on the wrongly-accused Joseph and imparts to him the gifts of friendship-love and favor:
And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. (Genesis 39:20–21, ESV)
At the close of his life, Joseph prophesizes that the God who remembered him and visited him in prison will surely not fail to remember and visit his children in Egypt – a remarkable event given the understanding of the day that gods were restricted to their own geographic domain. This God, however, will cross any domain to lead his children to the home he has prepared for them. Joseph is so certain of God’s character that he forces his children to swear an oath based upon the visitation coming to pass:
And Joseph said to his brethren, I am going to die. But God will surely visit you and bring you out of this land to the land He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob [to give you].
And Joseph took an oath from the sons of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and you will carry up my bones from here. (Genesis 50:24–25, ESV)
And so God does. A few generations after Joseph’s prophesy, the Israelites are ground down into slavery. God hears their cries and resolves to show them heartfelt care, commissioning Moses. That’s an important principle that we’ll be developing this month.
God visits – through, with, and in the form of – his servants.
How have you experienced the visitation of God through others?