I was speaking with someone recently about a wonderful book by Christian author Francine Rivers called, â€œRedeeming Love.â€ I had read this book about seven years ago. It is modeled against the book of Hosea in the Old Testament.
This person is going through some emotional and spiritual healing in her life from wounds that have been with her since she was a child. I never would have recommended this particular book to this woman because of where she is in her healing at this point. But she said she had read the book and I mentioned that I had read it many years back, and we processed the kind of love God has for His people as we discussed the book.
A few days later I was in a Christian book store, purchasing a Bible for someone. This particular book was on the number one seller's shelf in the front of the store. I was amazed because, as I mentioned, I read this book more than seven years ago. Two days later, I opened my Bible to do my own devotions, and it fell to Hosea chapter 3. These three incidents prompted me to write on this topic, feeling someone out there must need to hear these words.
God loves His people above all else. He loved the Israelites deeply. Yet Israel sinned. Therefore, God had to separate Israel from their idolatrous practices. God had to deal with the Northern Kingdom. The religious leaders of that time had turned from holy worship of God, to ritual prostitution. God had to separate, isolate and deal with the Northern Kingdom, â€œThey were unfaithful to the Lordâ€ (Hosea 5:7). And yet, God loved Israel, â€œWhen Israel was a child, I loved him,â€ (Hosea 11:1). In their repentance, the Lord said, â€œI will heal their waywardness and love them freelyâ€ (Hosea 14:4).
These words are much like God telling Hosea to take back his unrepentant wife. Hosea 3 tells us the story: God told him to go to her and love her (Hosea 3). This mirrors God's love for Israel, who turned from His ways, and even us today â€” when we sin.
Sin causes people's hearts to harden, to justify and to turn from God's ways ultimately. God will chase us to a point â€” just as He told Hosea to chase and bring back His wife, so to speak. But it is up to us to repent, realizing the God of the universe loves us more than anything. Protection and peace come from Him alone.
As I write, I feel the most profound words of the book of Hosea come at the end: â€œWho is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in themâ€ (Hosea 14:9).
Are we wise, following God's way in all we do? Or are we walking down our own path, rebellious in our ways to the point that we may not even want to acknowledge, let alone admit it?
God's ways not only keep us from sin: They protect us from the consequences of sin. They protect us from pain. They bring peace â€” not perfection â€” but peace.
If you find this column touches a part of your life today that perhaps you have not wanted to accept until now, allow God to use it to bring you to the safety of obedience. For we know that in Him alone our rest from negative choices lies. And He is willing to take us back and heal, just as He was a repentant Israel.
?The Rev. KIMBERLIE ZAKARIAN can be reached by e-mail at holyhouse9@ gmail.com or by mail at Holy House Ministries c/o the Rev. Kimberlie Zakarian, M.S. La Vie Counseling Center, 650 Sierra Madre Villa, Suite 110, Pasadena, CA 91107.