Today’s Reading: Hosea; Isaiah 26-29
God gave Adam & Eve an incredible opportunity to live in intimate relationship with their Creator. He blessed them generously, yet they chose to disobey. Even though He had greatly blessed them, they disregarded God’s plan, ignored God’s purpose in their creation and satisfied their own desires instead of faithfully following God. This began a pattern of sin, generation after generation, until God’s beautiful creation was deeply in need of a Savior – a sacrificial lamb.
God gave the nation of Israel this same opportunity to live in relationship with Him. He rescued them from slavery and gave them Canaan – a land flowing with milk and honey. He showered them with spiritual and material blessings, asking them to stay on His path of righteousness and worship Him only. But they disregarded God’s plan, ignored God’s purpose and satisfied their own desires instead of faithfully following God. They messed up God’s perfection plan.
Hosea the prophet’s life became an example of the unfaithfulness of Israel to their God. Hosea married a prostitute who continued to be unfaithful to him despite his generous love to her. Hosea’s anguish over his wife’s sins represents the heart of our God who grieves when we choose to love ourselves or something else more than we love Him. There were consequences to Gomer’s unfaithfulness coming from a heart full of mercy, just as God’s punishment and the natural consequences of our sins come out of a heart of MERCY FOR THE PURPOSE OF REDEMPTION.
She doesn’t realize it was I who gave her everything she has – the grain, the new wine, the olive oil; I even gave her silver and gold. But she gave all my gifts to Baal.
But now I take back…
I will strip her…
I will put an end to…
I will destroy…
I will punish…
“But then I will win her back once again.
I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there.
I will return her vineyards to her and transform the VALLEY OF TROUBLE into a GATEWAY OF HOPE.
She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young,
when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.
When that day comes,” says the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’…
I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion.
I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord. – Hosea 2:8-20
God offers each one of us the incredible opportunity to live in an intimate relationship with our Creator – the one who knows everything about us and loves us more than we can imagine. He enters into a covenant relationship with us, requiring us to walk down a path of righteousness – following God’s plan, clinging to God’s purposes and living fully for Him. When we break that covenant by putting something else or someone else ahead of Him (our modern day idols), out of His great love and mercy for us He allows us to go through a time of judgment or punishment or consequences for our actions. This serves as His way of drawing us back to Him in order that He might restore us and reestablish His covenant with us. GOD’S HOPE ALWAYS FOLLOWS HIS JUDGMENT! Where are we on this path?
God’s desire for an intimate relationship:
I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me, more than I want burnt offerings – Hosea 6:6
God’s generous blessings on our lives and our tendency to turn away from all He has for us:
But the richer the people get, the more pagan altars they build.
The more bountiful their harvests, the more beautiful their sacred pillars.
The hearts of the people are fickle; they are guilty and must be punished (Hosea 10:1-2).
“I have been the Lord your God ever since I brought you out of Egypt.
You must acknowledge no God but me, for THERE IN NO OTHER SAVIOR.
I took care of you in the wilderness, in that dry and thirsty land.
But when you had eaten and were satisfied, you became proud and forgot me.” – (Hosea 13:4-6)
His call on our lives to live righteously:
I said, “Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love.
Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.” – Hosea 10:12
Out of His great mercy, God’s punishes us with judgment or consequences to our unfaithfulness, for the purpose of restoring us to a right relationship with Him – the relationship He sent His Son to restore:
“Oh Judah, a harvest of punishment is also waiting for you, though I wanted to restore the fortunes of my people.
“Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might KNOW THE LORD! LET US PRESS ON TO KNOW HIM. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” – Hosea 6:1-3
God’s judgment is always followed by the hope of restoration:
The Lord says, “Then I will heal you of your faithlessness;
my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever…
My people will again live under my shade…O Israel, stay away from idols!
I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you.
I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.”
The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them (Hosea 14:9b).
The love story of Hosea and Gomer seems like a strange place to be on Easter Sunday, but maybe not. It is a story of redemption. Hosea’s love for Gomer was sacrificial, life-affirming, passionate and redemptive. What a great example of Christ’s love for us! While we were still sinners, Christ died for us! His love for us is sacrificial – He gave His life on the cross! Three days later, He conquered death and rose to life in order that we might experience eternal life. His passionate love for us is displayed in the greatest act of history! His heart of mercy held a PLAN OF REDEMPTION. Jesus Christ is alive and loves us with a redeeming love that restores us.
It’s worth asking again – Where are we on this path or journey? Are we enjoying an intimate relationship with God, resting in His plan and His purpose? Are we turning away from all of His blessings in our lives and continuing to search for something the world has to offer? Is God even now transforming our Valley of Trouble into a Gateway of Hope? Are we dwelling in Friday’s sorrow or Sunday’s triumph? Are we living once again under His shade, where the tree is always green and He is bearing fruit in our lives?