Tuesday Reflection – December 17, 2019
A Call to Restoration
The prophet Hosea preached in Israel during a time of that nations’ backsliding. They had destroyed the purity of their religion by blending it with forms of idolatry. Rather than worshipping the one true God, they also worshipped the gods of the Canaanites, especially Baal. To remain true to God is to rely on God’s provisions which are given according to God’s timing. Idolatry however is manipulative worship. One is led to believe that rituals can be used to manipulate the idol to act on one’s behalf. Israel used rituals of human empowerment, sexual immorality and self-love to cause the idols to bless them. God responded by using the life of the prophet Hosea to challenge Israel’s unfaithfulness and promised them a time when he would restore their faithful honoring of the covenant relationship and purify their worship. Hear today’s watchword from Hosea 2: 19: I will betroth you to me forever; yes, I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in loving kindness and in compassion.
To be betrothed is to be given in marriage. God promised Israel that He would take them to be his beloved forever. Israel’s sin was their abandonment of the covenant relationship. As a result of their backsliding God was going to remove his blessings from them. All the provisions of God that they were ascribing to idols and to their own strength and power, would be taken. This would cause them to refocus their attention on God who alone is able to provide. This is God’s call to restoration. Friends there are times when God will allow us to suffer the loss of whatever causes us to lose sight of Him in order to refocus us. Israel was like the promiscuous wife of the prophet, always leaving the comfort and provision of her home and family to find satisfaction on the outside. At times we are like that, seeking the things we need, the provisions, the job, the companionship, the financial assistance, the longed-for status, seeking whatever places the focus on us. Such unfaithfulness is often rewarded by our loss of what we have because it was becoming a stumbling block in our relationship with God. Jesus made it clear that being tied to possessions and positions can hamper our acceptance into heaven. ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the gates of heaven’. Matt 19: 24. Another reminder is: ‘For where your treasure is your heart will be also.’ Matt 6: 21.
Note however that the same God who takes is the one who restores. God instructs Hosea to forgive and restore his wife to her rightful position regardless of her unfaithfulness. He is to do this as an example to Israel of what God was willing to do for them. In Hosea 6: 1 the prophet calls Israel to return to God who will restore. “Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.” God does not allow us to be broken in order to leave is in our brokenness. When we trust Him, He heals our brokenness and restores us to our former selves. Thus God declares to Israel, I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in loving kindness and compassion. This is to be an everlasting relationship. It is not to be a marriage of convenience, falling apart with the least trial. It will be an act of love, a love so deeply grounded that nothing will be able to destroy it. This is the love that God has for us. It is the love we celebrate during Advent and Christmas. It is the love of John 3: 16, a love that offers salvation to anyone who accepts it. It is also because of this love that we anticipate the return of our Lord, knowing that when He comes, we who remain faithful, will go to be with Him for eternity. My prayer today is that we remain faithful, for God will surely keep his promises. Amen.