Hosea 11-14, Psalm 124
Most of us who are parents can reflect back on a time when one or more of our children openly defied or disrespected us. When one of my children was rebelling towards the end of high school and was just about to go off to college I sat down with that child over dinner in a restaurant. I prepared a number of things that I wanted that child to be warned about and what would be needed to make college a successful experience. On the other side of the table I was looked at mockingly and at the conclusion was told by that child how they thought I messed up as a father and how I needed to change. I felt like I was punched in the stomach. Our relationship was always so close and to be openly disrespected like this hurt me terribly. Though I love my children, similar episodes occurred at various stages of their lives and each time the hurt was no less. Human relationships are a reflection of our relationships with God. We tend to view God from a lens of being above emotion and that our actions don't seriously bother Him. But the love we feel for our children is nothing compared to the love our Creator feels for us, His created. When we rebel and defy, how often do we view it only from our own selfish standpoint, rather than from His standpoint where we are shaking our fist at Him and punching Him in the stomach.
Notice the love He showered on defiant Ephraim in Hosea 11:2-4, "As they called them, So they went from them; They sacrificed to the Baals, And burned incense to carved images. I taught Ephraim to walk, Taking them by their arms; But they did not know that I healed them. I drew them with gentle cords, With bands of love, And I was to them as those who took the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them." It goes on in Hosea 11:8 to say, "...My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred." God feels the pain when He is rejected. Throughout the centuries different people and groups have taken their turns openly rejecting Him and His ways. Our nation now does so without shame, with seared consciences (1 Timothy 4:1-2, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,".). If anyone still questions whether or not our sin truly bothers and hurts God, consider the words of Jesus after rebuking the Pharisees for their hypocrisy in Matthew 23, and concluding in 23:37, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!"
We often minimize how badly we hurt our God because we fail to see the ugliness of our own sins. When we question how our children could possibly do or say such things to us after all we have done, we have done nothing compared to what our Heavenly Father has done for us. We are hurt when our imperfect children rebel against us, their imperfect parents. Consider how much worse it is when we, God's imperfect children rebel against our perfect Father. When we reconsider the message of Hosea which was illustrated in the opening three chapters of this book in Hosea's dealings with his adulterous wife, Gomer; God's people would break His heart, but God's love is unconditional and He will never give up on His people. We simply need to turn to Him for forgiveness. Notice His love demonstrated in Hosea 12:14 which speaks of the first coming of Jesus, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O death, I will be your plagues! O grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes." When we as parents are hurt we often respond in shock or anger. When our Father is hurt, He responded with more love, by sending His Son as payment for our sins. May we never minimize what God has done for us.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: