Family Bible Study lesson for Feb. 27: Can God Fix This? : Friday, Feb. 11, 2005
February 11 2005 by John Pond

Family Bible Study lesson for Feb. 27: Can God Fix This? : Friday, Feb. 11, 2005
Friday, Feb. 11, 2005

Family Bible Study lesson for Feb. 27: Can God Fix This?

By John Pond
Focal Passage: Hosea 14:1-9

My favorite work of art is George Seurat's A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. His style of painting is referred to as pointillism, the creation of a portrait using minute points of color and texture. Close examination reveals seemingly unrelated hues and tints; distant appreciation reveals a moment in time along the banks of a pleasant lake.

Today's text is much like Seurat's masterpiece, an exercise in divine pointillism. Israel has refused God's offer of love and relationship. God speaks to them out of their detailed situation and offers His masterpiece of hope and redemption. One final time God compassionately beckons Israel to return to Him. Though judgment is eminent, God says, "I will love them freely!" (14:4).

Acknowledge sin

Hosea 14:1-2

"Return!" Though they were bent on turning away from Him (11:7), God gives His people one more opportunity to return. Destruction is inevitable, but hope is near. They don't deserve it, but God holds on to them with His faithful, covenantal love. Previously, God had declared, "I will destroy you, O Israel, who can help you? (13:9)." Now, He offers them redemption. "Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God (5:4)," but He gives them one final chance.

George Adam Smith wrote, "Amos cries, 'Turn, for in front of you is destruction;' but Hosea, 'Turn, for behind you is God.'"

Hope could be theirs if they would only repent. "You have stumbled because of your iniquity (NRSV)" therefore, "return to the Lord!"

They must confess, without reservation or excuse. They must acknowledge their sin and humbly offer themselves back to God.

Establish commitment

Hosea 14:3

Repentance occurs when one acknowledges his or her sin and abandons dependence on false securities. Israel understood power and protection. Previously they depended upon the strength of foreign nations and their deities. Their idol creations embodied the gods they wanted and could control. But God's compassion drove them to repentance and confession and ultimately to hope and new life as they recognized their true condition before God - "in you the orphan (fatherless) finds mercy (compassion)" (14:3).

The deceptive strength and protection they desired had left them weak and vulnerable. It was time to re-establish their commitment to God.

Accept healing

Hosea 14:4-8

"I will freely love them!" These words outstrip our conventional theologies and laws. God loves even when His divine love has long been rejected. The very one who said in 9:15, "I will love them no more!" now promises to love them freely. He reclaims His people and heals their faithlessness.

This act of reconciliation is characterized by three conditions: freshness, stability and vigor. Hosea paints a vivid portrait: God offers freshness - dew, flowers, fragrance, beauty and shade; stability - rooted like the poplar tree; and vigor - spreading shoots of new growth, flourishing like a garden.

Hosea stands before a people doomed in judgment and offers God's words of hope and love, "return and receive - acknowledge sin and accept healing." He makes one final appeal: "Oh Ephraim." Hosea asks how God's people could honestly speak of God's compassion and holiness and in the same breath speak of worthless idols.

If they would respond, God, who has the constancy of the evergreen and the richness of the fruit tree, promised to restore their fruitfulness and faithfulness.

Walk in wisdom

Hosea 14:9

Last words are significant. In terms similar to the book of Proverbs, Hosea concludes: To that one who recognizes his or her true condition in this world, return and receive the word of God - "I will love you freely!"

Passionately, the message speaks for itself. Either it will draw and win Israel (each individual) or it will leave Israel (the individual) unmoved and judged.

2/11/2005 12:00:00 AM by John Pond | with 0 comments

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