God’s love restores us - 9 July 2020
By Louise Gevers
I will destroy her grapevines and her fig trees, which she said her lovers gave her for serving them. I will turn her vineyards and orchards into a wilderness; wild animals will destroy them. I will punish her for the times that she forgot me when she burnt incense to Baal and put on her jewellery to go chasing after her lovers. The LORD has spoken.
God’s heart yearns for His people to engage in an intimate, covenant relationship with Him in which they experience personally that “he is altogether lovely” and know that, “(He) is my beloved, this is my friend …” (Song of Solomon 5:16). With all the beautiful qualities of love inherent in Him, God loves richly and steadfastly, wanting the best for each one, asking for their whole-hearted love and commitment in return. But Israel often forgot God’s love and goodness to them and worshipped pagan idols that lured them; and their love for God grew cold.
Still, He loved them faithfully and wanted to woo them back to Him, even after they had broken His Commandments.
Using Hosea’s troubled marriage as an object lesson, God illustrates symbolically the condition of Israel’s relationship with Him, the depth of His love for them, and His willingness to restore their covenant. Israel would be able to see that what God instructed Hosea to do for Gomer, his wife, He would do for Israel. God’s instruction to Hosea to buy back his unfaithful wife would symbolise His willingness to redeem Israel, emphasizing His unconditional love for them.
He further uses the Valley of Achor, a place of former judgment and tragedy, where Achan and his family were punished for his sin (Joshua 7), as imagery, to illustrate His redemptive power. Infidelity to God put Israel into a valley of destruction waiting for judgement, but He wants them to see that, by returning to Him, He has the power to transform their sinful situation into “a door of hope”, promising grace, and restoration of the blessings that will bring joy again. He is the God of the impossible (Genesis 18:14; Mark 10:27) with whom no situation is beyond redemption; by repenting there is always hope.
Selfless commitment and compassion to forgive and restore originate in God. When things go wrong, true love inspires the renewal and restoration of the broken and lost, regardless of the cost. This love, exemplified in God’s willingness to pursue unfaithful Israel, challenges us at the highest level and sets before us the blueprint for unconditional love. God alone is able to turn a place of shame into a door of hope through which His, “grace is sufficient for (those at rock bottom) … and His power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Prayer: Lord, too often we are unfaithful as we replace You in our affections with distractions that tempt us to exchange truth for deception. Sometimes it’s only when things go wrong in our lives that we realise this. Help me to return to my first love for You and to be restored. Amen