First let me say that if you did not go to the National Day of Prayer events in Macomb or your town, then you missed a blessing. I know you did here. Many faithful ministers came together with a crowd of people to praise God and pray for our nation.
Along those lines, on Wednesday nights we've been going through Hosea. As a refresher, Hosea is called of God to marry an unfaithful wife--one who repeatedly leaves him and chases after other men. Gomer's unfaithfulness is so bad that only one of their 3 children is definitely his. In each moment of unfaithfulness, Hosea reaches out to his wife and brings her home. On one occasion, he literally buys her from a slave auction for double her asking price. Amazingly, Hosea was willing to pay any price to get back or redeem what was already his.
This is supposed to be a living picture of how God dealt with Israel--waywardness, reaching out--in this case through calamity in the Assyrian invasion, followed by redemption.
Of course, the pattern isn't unique to Israel, God, our faithful husband, continually sees you and me leave Him, He calls out for our return and then redeems us by paying the ultimate price. He accomplished this in the life, death & resurrection of Jesus.
After last night's study, I was talking with a member about our actions as individuals and as a country and how God chooses to deal with us. As you may know, it is the good times which are most dangerous to a vibrant and passionate faith. We tend only to look to God when we "need" Him. Until we need Him, we go our own way. God knows this and is willing to do whatever it takes to draw us back to His side.
So many talk of 9/11 and related events like Katrina as God's judgment on a guilty nation. There is undoubtedly and element to that. But I believe we are missing something if we only look at it that way.
Hosea reminds us what God's intent is, what God wants above all--our return to Him. In that respect, 9/11 shouldn't just be looked at as an angry, judgmental God but as a desperate, passionate plea from a loving husband to His wayward wife.
No matter what you have done, I will receive you--Return to Me with a heart seeking forgiveness. His hand is open up to us--He is desperately trying to rescue us from our waywardness.
All our blessings, all our good things are from Him and we squander them. And despite it all, He still loves us and wants us back. 9/11 was such a moment, when the hand of God moved in a desperate attempt to call those He loves back to Him. Revelation describes Jesus as "the Lover coming for His Bride" (to quote 'He Is' by Aaron Geoffrey), but we don't have to wait to "the end" to see this in our Savior. You can see it in how He continually reaches out to us, in order to call us home, despite our unfaithfulness.
Here are a few samples from Hosea taken out of the NIV. I pray that we will respond to God's desperate call to return to Him because He is more interested in our return than our happiness or our comfort. And if we ignore these pleas, what will it take to make us truly "need" Him?
HOS 2:8 She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil,who lavished on her the silver and gold--which they used for Baal.
HOS 5:4 "Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. A spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the LORD.
HOS 9:10 "When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your fathers, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree. But when they came to Baal Peor, they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol and became as vile as the thing they loved.
HOS 11:1 "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
HOS 11:2 But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images.
HOS 11:3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them.
HOS 11:4 I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.
HOS 13:4 "But I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me.
HOS 13:5 I cared for you in the desert, in the land of burning heat.
HOS 13:6 When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.
HOS 2:9 "Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens,and my new wine when it is ready. I will take back my wool and my linen, intended to cover her nakedness.
HOS 2:12 I will ruin her vines and her fig trees,which she said were her pay from her lovers;I will make them a thicket,and wild animals will devour them.
HOS 2:14 "Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.
HOS 2:15 There I will give her back her vineyards...
HOS 2:16 "In that day," declares the LORD, "you will call me `my husband'; you will no longer call me `my master. '
HOS 2:19 I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.
HOS 2:20 I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.
HOS 3:1 The LORD said to me, "Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes."
HOS 14:1 Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!
HOS 14:2 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.
May we truly return to Him with words of Repentance in response to a desperate plea from a loving God.
Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life
Pastor Kelly Reed