Read: Hosea 11-14
The narrative of Hosea is complete, the love of God prevails. I cannot escape the love of God intertwined in every word I read these days. For today’s reading, if you use the Bible Gateway link above, turn off titles and verse numbers and read the text like Hosea narrated it, let the poetry speak to your heart and may we all be nudged a little bit closer to the God of the universe who loves us with great passion.
My heart is changed within me;
all my compassion is aroused.
I will not carry out my fierce anger,
nor will I devastate Ephraim again.
Hosea provides some historical highlights for Israel to consider. He reflects on Jacob’s deceptions for gain and Moses’ leadership. He includes Israel’s demand for kings to rule over them, but we cannot escape the missteps, the wandering hearts of men.
But you must return to your God;
maintain love and justice,
and wait for your God always.
Their ways are far from God:
It is said of these people,
“They offer human sacrifices!
They kiss calf-idols!”
Therefore they will be like the morning mist,
like the early dew that disappears,
like chaff swirling from a threshing floor,
like smoke escaping through a window.
I can’t help but read these words and think about how clinical we’ve become as a people, when medical doctors, trained physicians, can systematically destroy babies in the womb because, in their definition, they are mere fetuses. We are not so far removed from these ancient ancestors we look down upon.
Yet, the love of God prevails. In the very next verse:
“But I have been the Lord your God
ever since you came out of Egypt.
You shall acknowledge no God but me,
no Savior except me.
Fools! Only fools would misunderstand what God has done for his people:
Pains as of a woman in childbirth come to him,
but he is a child without wisdom;
when the time arrives,
he doesn’t have the sense to come out of the womb.
Not enough sense to be born? Seriously, Hosea, that’s a bit extreme! But here’s the conclusion as we ride this rollercoaster of emotion:
“I will heal their waywardness
and love them freely,
for my anger has turned away from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
he will blossom like a lily.
Like a cedar of Lebanon
he will send down his roots;
his young shoots will grow.
God will love us freely.
Yes, those are the words I picked out of the text to highlight and remember. “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely.”
I wish Rich Mullins were alive these days. I listened to “The Love of God” again this morning. It’s short and profound. Not perfect, but real. We need to stop trying for perfection anyway, don’t we? If Rich were around today, I think his arrangements would have had fewer strings and probably spoken word segments or perhaps he would have invented something completely new. Whatever the case, may the unquenchable love of God pour over you today. I challenge you to say, “I love you” to someone new–and mean it. It’s risky and will likely be misunderstood, but imagine if Jesus was physically standing there beside you. Would he not say those words to even the strangest of strangers?
In Beth Ehlert’s devotion last night, she reminded us that our identity is found first in Jesus. He lives in each of us. Be perfect (Matthew 5:48). Go and spread the love of God somewhere today.
And if the Spirit of him
who raised Jesus from the dead
is living in you,
he who raised Christ from the dead
will also give life to your mortal bodies
because of his Spirit who lives in you.