I am not ashamed to admit that I consider myself a relatively "young" Christian. Oh, I was saved and baptized as a young girl, but my faith never really grew until the past few years. For years I would read my Bible occasionally and think to myself... "what in the world is that supposed to mean?" This was most especially true about the Old Testament. Even if I did make it through the "begats" I could rarely see how the stories applied to my life.
Not too long ago, as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes, I see the value and truths in much of the Old Testament scripture that seemed so antiquated and irrelevant to me before. I can get downright giddy when the stories come to life in my head and I realize that what God spoke to the Israelites so long ago is still His Word today. I have come to realize that I need to write this stuff down, so here is as good a place as any to do it. I know that my ramblings may seem so simple and less-than-profound to those that may read this (if anyone does read it...lol.) but I want to be able to look back and see what God spoke to me on this day.
This morning I read through the book of Hosea after hearing a little about the story of Hosea and Gomer on the radio. It is an amazing look at God's love for the Israelites and for us, no matter how far from Him we wander.
In Hosea, the Israelites have turned from God.
1 Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites,
because the LORD has a charge to bring
against you who live in the land:
"There is no faithfulness, no love,
no acknowledgment of God in the land.
2 There is only cursing, lying and murder,
stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
and bloodshed follows bloodshed."
2"Now they sin more and more;
they make idols for themselves from their silver,
cleverly fashioned images,
all of them the work of craftsmen.
It is said of these people,
"They offer human sacrifice
and kiss the calf-idols."
When I think about the world that we live in today I can see so many of these very things present, even in my own life. While we may not be sacrificing one another to false gods and kissing calf idols, how many idols have I made of my stuff, my very own silver?
The Lord was angry with the Israelites! They were His people. He had cared for them and brought them out of slavery.
4 But I am the LORD your God,
who brought you out of Egypt.
You shall acknowledge no God but me,
no Savior except me.
5 I cared for you in the desert,
in the land of burning heat.
6 When I fed them, they were satisfied;
when they were satisfied, they became proud;
then they forgot me.
7 So I will come upon them like a lion,
like a leopard I will lurk by the path.
8 Like a bear robbed of her cubs,
I will attack them and rip them open.
Like a lion I will devour them;
a wild animal will tear them apart.
9 "You are destroyed, O Israel,
because you are against me, against your helper.
How often do we forget what God has done for us? Do we take the blessing he provides and become proud?
Despite His anger, God loved the Israelites deeply and wanted so much for them to repent and turn to Him. God never quits desiring for us to come back to Him, no matter what we do, no matter how far we go. We can never get too far from God that He isn't asking us to come back!
1 Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!
2 Take words with you
and return to the LORD.
Say to him:
"Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
Despite His anger and the punishment that Israel deserves God proves that He is a compassionate and merciful God. He can't bring Himself to destroy the Israelites with His wrath and fury.
8 "How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah?
How can I make you like Zeboiim?
My heart is changed within me;
all my compassion is aroused.
9 I will not carry out my fierce anger,
nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim.
For I am God, and not man—
the Holy One among you.
I will not come in wrath.
10 They will follow the LORD;
he will roar like a lion.
When he roars,
his children will come trembling from the west.
11 They will come trembling
like birds from Egypt,
like doves from Assyria.
I will settle them in their homes,"
declares the LORD.
Despite everything the Israelites did, all of their sin, the Lord still had plans for them. He has the same plans for us. One day we will be betrothed to Him in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion, and in faithfulness! God still holds this promise for us just as He did for the Israelites of Old Testament days.
14 "Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her.
15 There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will sing as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
16 "In that day," declares the LORD,
"you will call me 'my husband';
you will no longer call me 'my master.'
17 I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips;
no longer will their names be invoked.
18 In that day I will make a covenant for them
with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air
and the creatures that move along the ground.
Bow and sword and battle
I will abolish from the land,
so that all may lie down in safety.
19 I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.
20 I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge the LORD.