Sunday, August 17, 2014

August 17 – Who’s the cold-hearted one?

I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily, he will send down his roots like a cedar of Lebanon.  His young shoots will grow; his splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon. People will reside again in his shade; they will plant and harvest grain in abundance. They will blossom like a vine, and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon.  (Hosea 14:5-7  NET)

At the time that Hosea had made these prophecies, Israel had become wealthy and politically savvy in bartering and trading with foreign nations, but their faithfulness to God was corrupted by their prosperity.  They strayed far from God, worshipped false gods, indulged in the immorality of Baal worshippers, and had rejected the One who had protected them for centuries.  

Throughout Hosea, God rebukes His people and warns them of the terrible consequences they would face if they did not repent.  They were embracing evil, and devastating evil was about to come upon them.  Not long after Hosea’s prophecies, the nations of Israel and Judah fell to the invading Assyrians and Babylonians and the temple of God was left in ruins.  God’s people were slaughtered, scattered as slaves, and treated as worthless plunder, all because they didn’t see any need to repent.

But God already had a plan to rescue them, even though He knew that they would remain hard-hearted.  He knew that repentance would come, but it would only occur to them after suffering pain and shame.  Some critics complain that God is harsh and cold-hearted, but the truth was that His own people had turned cold-hearted.  They brought about their own destruction because of their selfishness.  Even so, God was ready to bring them back to Himself once they did what they should have done all along – repent.

In the midst of Israel’s stubborn rebellion, God is speaking of the day when He will be like a refreshing dew to His people, how they will not only be strong and magnificent, but that all those who gather in the shade of His people will be abundantly blessed as well.  He’s loving and eager to bless them, He’s compassionate and caring - the same God we worship today.

What does that mean for you and I?  Ignoring repentance may be sustained for a while, but the longer it’s ignored the more authority we give the devil over our lives.  Before we know it, destruction is in us, and all around us, because we brought it upon ourselves.  But the answer is to repent – even when we fear that it’s too late.  God is dreaming of the moment when you will finally turn to Him, in all your filth and foolishness He’s ready to transform you into something strong and beautiful, to refresh you and even use you to bless others.  Don’t wait to clean yourself up first. Drop everything you’re doing at this moment and turn to Him now.  If your repentance is real, you’ll be amazed at how quickly He will restore you, and how different your life will turn out because of it. 

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