Family Bible Study lesson for Feb. 20: Does God Want Me Back? : Friday, Jan. 28, 2005
January 28 2005 by John Pond

Family Bible Study lesson for Feb. 20: Does God Want Me Back? : Friday, Jan. 28, 2005
Friday, Jan. 28, 2005

Family Bible Study lesson for Feb. 20: Does God Want Me Back?

By John Pond
Focal Passage: Hosea 11:1-11

Several years ago, while teaching at the Baptist seminary in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil, I preached on this text. During the service a young couple came into the meeting and listened to the message. Later we met with the couple and heard their story. They had drifted away from God and were living a life of desperation and failure. With a newborn on the way they decided to end their lives. Fortunately, while on their way to commit this tragic act they were drawn to the worship service. They heard that God loved them and felt their pains: "How can I give you up, Ephraim? ... My heart recoils within Me; My compassion grows warm and tender." They repented of their rebellion and gave their lives to Christ receiving His gracious forgiveness and a new beginning.

The people of Israel were guilty! God had loved them passionately. Yet, they had spurned His love.

Drifting away

Hosea 11:2

Speaking as if in a courtroom, God said: "I loved them ... I called them ... I taught them ... I embraced them ... I healed them ... I led them." But, God charged, "The more I called them, the more persistent they were in turning to false faiths and vain love!"

How did it happen? With a compassionate love, God called them out of Egypt. Through Moses, He led the people out of Egypt, and through Joshua led them into the land He had promised Abraham. Sadly, the more He called and loved, the further they wandered from Him. Verse 2 states, "The more I called them, the more they went from Me."

Israel refused the love and kindness of God and pursued the enslavement of false self-love. Karl Menninger wrote: "Sin has a willful, defiant or disloyal quality; someone is defied, offended or hurt. The willful disregard or sacrifice of the welfare of others for the welfare or satisfaction of the self is an essential quality of the concept of sin ... And sin is thus, at heart, a refusal of the love of others."

Persistent love

Hosea 11:3-4

One senses in this text the broken heart of God as He recalls those days when He patiently nurtured His covenant people. "I was with them as those who lift a small child to their cheek, and I bent down to him to feed him" (verse 4b as translated by H.W. Wolff). He continued to love and cherish them, leading them with cords of compassion and bands of love. God's stubborn, tough love sought to heal their brokenness. Tragically, they would not acknowledge the Lord.

Determined rebellion

Hosea 11:5-7

Constant refusal of divine love inevitably leads to disaster. Because of their rebellious and obstinate heart, God gave them up to the Assyrians. They would be defeated in battle and forced from their homes, driven out among the surrounding nations. Since they were bent on turning away from God, they would be "bent over or yoked" in captivity (verse 7b, Peter Craigie).

Amazing grace

Hosea 11:8-11

Hosea was given the difficult task of announcing the holy judgment of God, becoming a messenger of salvation and compassion. In verses 8-11 we hear this language of compassion: "How can I give you up, O Ephraim! How can I hand you over, O Israel! ... My heart recoils within Me, My compassion grows warm and tender" (Claus Westermann's translation).

For Hosea, embodying God's message of judgment set off within his heart God's divine turmoil and internal conflict. The old covenant dictated that God legally abandon His people to their deserved punishment, but His grace shouted, "How can I give you up!" "I will not execute My fierce anger ... for I am God and no mortal, the Holy One in your midst and I will not come in wrath."

If God's nature is love, then ceasing to love would be a denial of who He is - He would cease to be God - "for I am God and not man!"

Judgment is not spared or denied to God's people. They had defiantly rebelled against God's love. But, that persistent love finally led to salvation. Though they "shall come trembling like birds from Egypt and like doves from the land of Assyria: I will return them to their homes, says the Lord."

1/28/2005 12:00:00 AM by John Pond | with 0 comments

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