God pictures His relationship to His wayward people in the prophet Hosea’s relationship to his adulterous wife, Gomer. Gomer didn’t just drift away, nor was she seduced unaware. Chapter 2:5-7 says she pursued other lovers. She had children by men other than her husband. She thought they would give her “my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink” (2:5).
However, God declared, “she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal” (2:8). She not only didn’t acknowledge God, didn’t even thank Him for His gifts, but she used His gifts to worship a false god.
Later God likened Israel as a child whom He loved and taught to walk, yet “they did not know that I healed them” (11:3).
The Bible says God “richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” (1 Timothy 6:17). “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything…In him we live and move and have our being” Acts 17:24-28).
God gives us everything we have, even our very breath. Do we acknowledge Him? Thank Him? Or use His gifts in wrong pursuits?
Warren Wiersbe says, “The essence of idolatry is enjoying the gifts but not honoring the Giver” (Be Amazed (Minor Prophets): Restoring an Attitude of Wonder and Worship).
Romans tells us:
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:20-21).
The chapter goes on to say that since people persisted in living without acknowledging God,
- “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity” (1:24).
- “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions” (1:26).
- “Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (1:28).
Wiersbe says, “One of the greatest judgments God can inflict on any people is to let them have their own way.”
Fortunately, God doesn’t give people up easily. Further in the Acts passage that we looked at earlier, Paul says God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).
Back in Hosea, God disciplines His people and then shares these “I will” promises:
- “I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her” (2:14).
- “I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope” (2:15).
- “For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more” (2:17).
- “I will make for them a covenant on that day” (2:18a)
- “I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety” (2:18b).
- “I will betroth you to me forever. 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” (2:19-20).
- “I will answer” (2:21).
- “I will sow her for myself in the land” (2:22).
- “I will have mercy” (2:23).
God draws us with “cords of kindness, with the bands of love” (Hosea 11:4). He seeks out the lost sheep.
From Wiersbe’s book one more time:
The key word is return (Hos. 3: 5), a word that’s used twenty-two times in Hosea’s prophecy. When Israel repents and returns to the Lord, then the Lord will return to bless Israel (2:7–8). God has returned to His place and left Israel to herself (5:15) until she seeks Him and says, “Come, and let us return to the Lord” (6:1 NKJV).
Sometimes the return we need to make is a simple confession of loss of focus, lack of acknowledgement, thankfulness, or love. Sometimes it’s a full-blown 180-degree change of direction.
That’s the essence of repentance: turning from our way to God’s way (for more on repentance, see here). That happens at salvation, but it also needs to happen throughout our Christian walk. As we learn more of His will and Word, we continually adjust ourselves to them as we walk with Him.
May we return to His gracious love quickly and wholeheartedly.
(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Global Blogging, Senior Salon, Hearth and Soul,
Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story, InstaEncouragement, Anchored Abode,
Recharge Wednesday, Worth Beyond Rubies, Share a Link Wednesday,
Let’s Have Coffee, Instant Encouragement, Grace and Truth,
Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network)