Friday, January 29, 2016
God’s Offer Still Stands
“O Israel, return unto Jehovah thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and return unto Jehovah: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and accept that which is good: so will we render [as] bullocks [the offering of] our lips. Assyria shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses; neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, [Ye are] our gods; for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.” (Hosea 14:1-3)
Israel had turned completely away from God, and were almost to go into captivity. Even at that point God would be willing to forgive and prevent their being taken into captivity. But it would require action on their part. Their deliberate sin was destroying them, but if they would turn back to God, asking forgiveness. They had never stopped ritually offering the sacrifices, but they would need to begin to actually praise God, not just go through the ritual motions. There needed to be a change in attitude and overall lifestyle, similar to what Hebrews 13:15-16 tells Christians. “Through him then let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of lips which make confession to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” The sacrifices mean nothing without the proper attitude and actions. They needed to realize the Assyrians or other Gods could not save them and quit worshipping idols their own hands made. God is a merciful God and will care for those who have no one else to turn to.
“I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely; for mine anger is turned away from him. I will be as the dew unto Israel; he shall blossom as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive-tree, and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive [as] the grain, and blossom as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.” (Hosea 14:4-7)
When Israel turns to God, he promises to heal heal their backsliding, literally to stop their sliding backward into trouble. Like a loving father, if they are obedient, he can demonstrate his love freely, instead of constantly scolding or punishing them because he would no longer be angry at what they were doing. God could bless him like a thick dew in the morning, causing Israel to bloom like a lily and spread their roots like a tree when there is plenty of water. They would grow strong and reach as far as Lebanon under the Phoenician empire, and people would be drawn to them like smelling the cedars of Lebanon or seeing a healthy olive tree loaded with fruit. The surrounding countries would benefit from Israel’s recovery like a field suffering from drought revives after a rain.
“Ephraim [shall say], What have I to do any more with idols? I have answered, and will regard him: I am like a green fir-tree; from me is thy fruit found.” (Hosea 14:8)
When they turn to God, and experience his blessings, Israel and Ephraim will wonder why they ever turned away and decide they want nothing more to do with Idolatry. Listening to God is so much better, changing from a steady decline and increasing poverty to a vibrant and growing society. Thye will see God is the source of their blessings.
“Who is wise, that he may understand these things? prudent, that he may know them? for the ways of Jehovah are right, and the just shall walk in them; but transgressors shall fall therein.” (Hosea 14:9)
The question is not whether God knows what he is talking about or can do what he has promised. It is who is smart enough to listen and act on what he says. His ways are always right and those who do right will live with the rewards of obeying him. Those who refuse to obey will find their lives destroyed. There is still hope as long as the destruction is not complete, but once a person dies, hope is gone.