Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 30 November 19:
Note: Here is a short video overview of Hosea: https://youtu.be/kE6SZ1ogOVU
The story of Hosea (and his marriage to Gomer) is absolutely shocking for us to read, can you imagine how scandalous this was for the Israelites who witnessed this minor prophet’s verbal and visual proclamation and indictment? Hosea’s life was a living object lesson to publicly proclaim the terrible infidelity of the adulterous northern kingdom and to proclaim the incredible mercy and fidelity of the Lord God. Imagine the very real pain, shame, and anger Hosea must have felt every time Gomer acted unfaithfully. Yet, consider his response to his spouse who deserved death according to the Law. Like a marriage God established a covenant relationship with His people before a watching world, that His people would be faithful and loyal to Him and Him alone. The metaphor of the Church as the Bride of Christ is used several times by Jesus and throughout the New Testament. Does our infidelity to Jesus shock us as much as Gomer’s infidelity to Hosea? Do we fully appreciate the grace that we have received as adulterers? If so, what is our response to that grace? I appreciate RC Sproul’s comments below which stand in stark contrast to world’s message today:
“That there is a deep and profound chasm that separates believing in the total depravity of man and our own understanding of the depth and scope of our own sin is a potent sign of the depth and scope of our own sin. ‘Total depravity’ is a true and sound biblical doctrine about how the fall has impacted mankind. We are sinful in every part of our being and utterly unable, precisely because we are unwilling, to embrace the work of Christ on our behalf unless He changes us first. Because we are totally depraved, however, we see this as a doctrine about man, rather than an actual self-description. We distinguish between the problems of ‘man’ and our own problems. It is safe to speak ill of man, but dangerous and sad business to look too closely into our own hearts of darkness. So instead we think ourselves as partaking in a general sense of this depravity thing, but see it manifest in our own lives in nice, clean ways. We have a high view of God’s holiness, of His law, and so confess with all due piety that we are sinners indeed, rebels against the living God, in a nice, clean, abstract sort of way. The living God, however, has a far more accurate and potent picture of what we are. We are whores. We are shameless, self-degrading, crass and crude. We throw ourselves at strangers, selling our dignity for cash. Worse still, after He has redeemed us, washed us, even married us, we go back for more. We turn tricks before the all-seeing eyes of a Husband who suffered hell for us. Again He comes and washes us. He holds us. He confesses His love for us. He promises He will never leave us. He makes us new again.
But because we are still proud, we parade around in the beautiful gown with which He has covered us, suggesting that it surely had a few spots, a wrinkle or two on it before He found us. But they were nice, respectable spots and wrinkles. What we should be confessing is that it was once stained through with our whoredom. The joy of the Lord is not that He took we who were mostly clean and made us wholly clean. The joy of the Lord isn’t that because He worked in us no one needs to know our former shame. The joy of the Lord is that while we were out walking the streets, He came for us. While others paid to pollute us, He paid to redeem us.
Our Father told us a story so that we would know what we are. He gave us a prophet, Hosea. And we, sinners that we are, instead of confessing to being Gomer, thought He was telling us to be more like Hosea. ‘Oh,’ we humbly confess, ‘we should be so much more compassionate towards the really bad people. Please forgive us for not being more loving toward the unseemly ones of this world.’ The truth is He is confessing that we are the unseemly ones. That’s what we are, the people Jesus died for and married, the people adopted and loved of the Father, the people indwelt and being cleansed by the Spirit — God in three persons, consorting with such as we.
Hosea 2:6, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20 — “I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her…. I will take away my wool and my flax, which were to cover her nakedness… I will uncover her lewdness…. I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees…. I will punish her…. Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her…. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.”
God uses both positive and negative circumstances to draw people to Him and to eliminate anything that hinders a right relationship with Him. He will “take away”, expose, “lay waste”, and “punish”, but he will also “allure”, “speak tenderly”, and remain lovingly faithful to His unfaithful bride. As Paul states, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:28-29) It isn’t hard to rejoice and to show gratitude to God when He shows us mercy and grace, but we might not feel very joyful and grateful when He disciplines us or tests us. In difficult times, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that we are being prepared for the return of the Bridegroom and the final marriage supper (Revelation 19), and until that day, nothing can separate us from His love and protection.
– Proverbs 3:11-12 — My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
– Hebrews 12:11 — For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
– 1 Peter 5:10 — And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
– Psalm 30:5 — For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
– Philippians 4:4-18 — Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
– James 1:2-4 — Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
– Romans 5:3-5 — More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
– Romans 8:18-21 — For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
– 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 — For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
– 2 Corinthians 12:9 — But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 30 November 19: Reflect on and rejoice in the grace you have received from God through Christ; trust in, abide in, walk in, and grow in the grace you have received by God through Christ; and finally, share and demonstrate the grace you have received through Christ.