“Soon Gomer became pregnant again and gave birth to a daughter. And the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Name your daughter Lo-ruhama— ‘Not Loved’ —for I will no longer show love to the people of Israel or forgive them. But I, the Lord their God, will show love to the people of Judah. I will personally free them from their enemies without any help from weapons or armies.’ ” Hosea 1:6,7 New Living Translation
Several years ago a word appeared that has gained prominence in todays counseling, psychology, psychiatry, and even in every day conversation. Dysfunctional has been used to define a whole genre of emotional inabilities to function within the family, society, or just plain life. What I have observed, heard, and said myself leads me to believe there is not one person, or family, or anyone in this whole wide world who is not dysfunctional to some extent.
Stop and think about it, who in this world hasn’t experienced some form of abuse, whether it is physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, spiritual, or intellectual? I don’t believe one can live on planet earth without experiencing evil that causes pain (1 Chronicles 4:10). Unfortunately it is in our nature.
I have come to believe this from what I have read in the word of God and by observing humanity, and being willing to let God show me what I need to see in me. I’m not always co-operative, there is still too much stubbornness ingrained in me. However, that is also changing as God continues working in me moment by moment and I remain a work in the process of Grace.
Hosea had an extremely dysfunctional family by direction of God. God told Hosea to marry a prostitute, for God was going to use Hosea’s marriage as an object lesson and message to Israel for its adultery with idols. God had been trying to warn Israel’s children what their adultery with idols was doing to them. Little by little they were destroying themselves and the world at large. God had given them the responsibility of teaching the entire world of God and His love. Every blessing God gave Israel was for the purpose of communicating God’s love and Grace to the world.
Hosea’s firstborn son, (there is no proof he is actually Hosea’s child, more likely he is not) is called Jezreel by order of God. God’s reason for this is a reminder to Israel of King Jehu’s unwillingness to carry out God’s instructions concerning the destruction of idolatry in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. When Jehu only destroyed the idols of Baal, but left the idols and high places he and his family worshiped, God accused Jehu of murder and massacre. The accusation was accurate as Jehu was to destroy everything and everyone who was determined to remain worshippers of idolatry, in essence worshipping themselves.
Not too long after Hosea’s firstborn arrived Gomer was pregnant again, once more the father of the child was in question. Once again God instructed Hosea what to name this new little girl. The name was Lo-ruhama. The meaning of this name: Not Loved. God gives this explanation, “… for I will no longer show love to the people Israel or forgive them.”
As anyone who reads this blog, or has heard me preach, or engaged me in conversation knows the absolute reality is this, there is nothing without Grace! Now as I read this declaration, what happens to God’s Grace in His attitude to Israel? What does God mean when He states He will no longer love anyone, let alone an entire peoples group? And what about forgiveness?
There are many scriptures pointing out God’s willingness to forgive if we desire forgiveness. Ah! There it is! How do you forgive someone who doesn’t want to be forgiven? You certainly, for your own mental health need to forgive whether the other involved desires it or not. However, with God it’s a different situation, or as I have heard so often, “A different kettle of fish!”
One of the issues we come face to face with is a willingness to accept responsibility for our choices, attitudes, actions, thoughts, and our treatment of others. Inherent in seeking forgiveness is also a desire to make right what has been made wrong.
Grace holds us accountable to seek forgiveness from those we wronged, God, others, our family, any we have caused pain. If we are unwilling to follow through in this act of God’s Grace, how is God able to forgive? How can He forgive those who deny the need for forgiveness for themselves or for others?
Israel had no idea what they were losing. Isn’t it that way often? It is not until we have lost something, someone, a job, a talent, a physical ability, we make a choice hurting one we love, we gamble a relationship possibly losing it forever that we realize our loss. And at that moment suddenly we know it is gone forever, or maybe it is a while before we realize something precious is lost. Unfortunately, for many there is never a second chance, they lose the one they love forever!
What Israel lost through their choices, Judah gained. “But I, the Lord their God, will show love to the people of Judah.” If we choose to deny God, His blessings, His plans, His desires for our lives there comes a time when He will offer it all to someone else. Actually, the blessings could have been both Israel’s and Judah’s. There is always enough of what God offers for every one who wants Him and the amazing life He has waiting for us.
Then there is that extreme promise God gives Judah: “I will personally free them from their enemies without any help from weapons or armies.” I really like that; it reminds me of how God originally created mankind. Genesis tells us God spoke everything into existence except us! In creating Adam and Eve, God used His hands to form them from the clay. Then He breathed into them His Breathe of Life. It is always that personal touch with God and those He loves.
We often miss that truth because of the lies we have been fed all our lives. There is an enemy wanting nothing more than to separate us from God, from God’s Grace, from His love. This enemy tells you everything he knows will tear you down, take away from you the truth of your value, the truth of how much God values you, us! Maybe as Hosea experienced this definitely dysfunctional marriage and family there was something heroic about his willingness to serve in what can only be described as a difficult situation. To do this so others might have hope, to have the hope that comes from a new understanding of God’s love, intimacy, and passion for his children.
Wow, that hit me right where it challenges my sense of being a selfless servant. How far am I willing to go when it comes to serving mankind for God. Would I become a Hosea in order to bring a message of God’s eternal love to people who don’t really care? Likely we won’t be asked to be a Hosea, however we are asked to give the message of God’s love that all have the opportunity to make a choice.
Jesus told us He wanted us to tell the world about Him, about why He came, about what He offers, that there is so much more to life than we know. It’s a message that never loses its power, its impact, its relevance in changing lives, hearts, and minds. As usual, I discover there is more to the story than I realized. And it is what makes being in the Word a challenge that keeps my mind from rusting shut.
How does God’s message to Israel impact your understanding of God’s forgiveness?
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