Daily Reflections November 8, 2017
As we conclude the book of Hosea, the general message is clear: Israel has forgotten her God.
The book began with God’s instructions to Hosea to marry an unfaithful wife. This would serve as a visible illustration of the unfaithfulness of Israel. Like a promiscuous wife, God’s people had turned from their first love and had given themselves to idols and foreign nations. Chapter 13 explains in haunting detail the judgement that Israel will receive for her rebellion, but as we so frequently see in Scripture, God’s plan does not stop there.
In this last chapter, there is a beautiful them of hope. God issues a generous invitation to his unfaithful people. Picking up the theme of a betrayed husband, God woos the people of Israel and invites them to return to his affection and care. If they will return He promises to heal their backsliding and to love them freely (v4). Verse 8 summarizes this powerful prophetic book:
O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols?
It is I who answer and look after you.
I am like an evergreen cypress;
from me comes your fruit. (Hosea 14:8 ESV)
Ephraim, or Israel, had been looking to all the wrong places. They had looked to false idols in their worship. They had looked to Egypt for their security. But now they are invited to look to God – the only one who can provide the fruit and provision that they need.
The book of Hosea reminds us of God’s jealous love for His people. He desires to be the One that we look to in crisis. He longs to be the object of our affection. In the same way, Jesus tells us in Matthew 10 that anyone who loves their father, mother or children more than him is not worthy of him. God is not after our intellectual assent to the basic facts of the Gospel. He is after our whole-hearted devotion and commitment to Him.
And, as we learn in today’s text, He is the only one who is worthy of our affection. Egypt cannot save. The treasures of the world fade away. Our false idols lead to judgement and despair. But God is like the evergreen cypress who provides us with fruit. He satisfies our souls in a way that only He can because we were made for Him. God will not stand idly by as we chase after and worship lesser things. He has not changed, and He will speak to us the same message that He spoke to Israel through the prophet Hosea: Return.
Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
whoever is discerning, let him know them;
for the ways of the Lord are right,
and the upright walk in them,
but transgressors stumble in them. (Hosea 14:9 ESV)
Assistant Pastor Levi denBok
In Psalm 139, David rejoices in the loving Creator who is reigning over him. David was experientially convinced of God’s transcendence and his imminence. God is at the same time, high and exalted, yet near and merciful to his children.
The Psalm is organized in four sections, each with six verses. We see God as omniscient (vv. 1-6), omnipresent (vv. 7-12), an intimate Creator (vv. 13-18), and as the holy One (vv. 19-24). Let’s explore each section.
First, in a society where people are isolated and lonely, connected by technology, but not often connected in vital life giving relationships, David assures us that God, the Being of all beings, knows and loves his children.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! (Psalm 139:1 ESV)
The Lord is omniscient. The idea of God’s searching and knowing is prominent in this psalm, appearing at the beginning (vs. 1) and end (vs. 23). He sees everything and knows everything about us. He knows our movements, thoughts, actions, and words even before they happen. When we don’t understand ourselves, the Lord does.
Second, the Lord is inescapable. There is no place we can go, east, west, north or south, bright light or complete darkness that the Lord isn’t there.
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? (Psalm 139:7 ESV)
In the heights or in the depths, God will be with us. He is omnipresent. If we think we can hide from God, we’d better reconsider. God finds us in our hiding (as he did with Adam), and he holds us fast in whatever dark place we find ourselves (as he did with Elijah). This brings conviction to the sinner and security to the suffering saint.
Third, the Lord is sovereign over our life. He is our intimate Creator. His hands skilfully fashioned us.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:14 ESV)
We are alive because God personally breathed life into us. He perfectly ordained all our days. We will not live one day more or one day less than God in his perfect love and wisdom decreed for us. God has formed us for himself and for his purposes and glory.
Fourth, David is so committed to God that he hates evil. He is outraged at the enemies of God and he despises the wickedness present in his own heart. In his desire to have nothing in him displease the Lord, David invites the holy gaze of God to search him in order that he might be cleansed of any defilement.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24 ESV)
Jesus Christ has made it possible for us to enjoy intimate fellowship with God and nothing can separate us from his love. God thoughts are fixed on his children, and we like David, should fix our thoughts upon God and his wonders. When I am lonely or lost, when I am troubled about life or tormented by evil, I recall the God who is over all, and who is for me. We are never out of God’s thoughts, or out of his hands.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:1 ESV)
Associate Pastor Jody Cross