The Leadership Void.

Yet let no one contend, and let none accuse, for with you is my contention, O priest. You shall stumble by day; the prophet also shall stumble with you by night;  and I will destroy your mother. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. The more they increased, the more they sinned against me; I will change their glory into shame.

They feed on the sin of my people; they are greedy for their iniquity. And it shall be like people, like priest; I will punish them for their ways and repay them for their deeds. They shall eat, but not be satisfied; they shall play the whore, but not multiply, because they have forsaken the Lord to cherish whoredom, wine, and new wine, which take away the understanding. – Hosea 4:4-11 ESV

God held all of the people of Israel responsible for their sin, but He had a special word of accusation against the spiritual leaders of Israel. The priests and prophets, while not actually men appointed by God, were still going to be held accountable because of their claim to be representatives of God. The priests of Israel were actually unsanctioned by God, because they had been appointed by Jeroboam after the kingdom split in two. He had created his own gods and appointed his own priests. They were not Levites, as God had commanded. So these were actually false priests leading the people in the worship of false gods. So God held them to a higher standard and leveled more severe charges against them. The same was true of the false prophets who were claiming to bring messages from the false gods they worshiped. These men were supposedly speaking new revelations from their gods, giving the people of Israel divine direction. But they were simply misleading the people. The revelations they received, if indeed they received any, were most likely demonic and most definitely not from God.

God’s main accusation against the priests was that they were leading the people away from Him, not toward Him. The people’s knowledge of God was actually diminishing, not increasing. God said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge” (Hosea 4:6 ESV). The priests were not seeking after the one true God, so the people were becoming increasingly ignorant of God and His ways. The priests were not teaching the laws of God, so the people were breaking them without even knowing it. And all of this was leading to their destruction, both spiritually and physically.

As priests, these men were to be promoting godliness and the worship of God. They were to be leading the people into a deeper understanding of and appreciation for God. But God said, “The more priests there are, the more they sin against me. They have exchanged the glory of God for the shame of idols” (Hosea 4:7 NLT). They were leaving God out of the equation. They had replaced Him with false gods and the peoples sins were actually increasing, not decreasing. And God even accused the priests of wanting the people to sin more, because the more they sinned, the more sacrifices they had to bring to repent of their sins. And the more sacrifices the people made, the more portions of those sacrifices they got to eat as their priestly payment. They were actually getting fat and happy off of the sins of the people. “When the people bring their sin offerings, the priests get fed. So the priests are glad when the people sin!” (Hosea 4:8 NLT).

There was evidently a common saying among the Israelites that said, “And what the priests do, the people also do” (Hosea 4:9a NLT). These so-called spiritual leaders were actually setting the standard for sin. They were leading the people into idolatry, immorality, and sins of all kinds by their very actions. Which led God to declare, So now I will punish both priests and people for their wicked deeds” (Hosea 4:9b NLT).

One of the saddest results of turning from God and seeking false gods is that the blessings you seek never come to fruition. The benefits you hope to derive from your false god never appear. The satisfaction you want remains illusive and unattainable. And God told the people of Israel, “They will eat and still be hungry. They will play the prostitute and gain nothing from it, for they have deserted the Lord to worship other gods” (Hosea 4:10-11a NLT). If you make money your god, you will never have enough of it to make you happy or bring you satisfaction. If you make popularity or beauty your god, there will always be someone more popular and more beautiful than you are. If you place your hope and trust in an individual, they will inevitably let you down. Whatever you end up worshiping in place of God will always let you down. It is incapable of delivering what you seek.

While the Israelites were guilty of worship golden calves and idols made of wood, our false gods are more sophisticated and subtle. Ours take the form of people, careers, material things, money, politicians, success, entertainment, and even self. And sadly, in our culture, there are those claiming to speak for God who encourage the worship of these false gods. They claim to speak for God, but actually direct people away from Him by encouraging actions and attitudes that are opposed to His will. These false preachers and pastors promote happiness over holiness. They downplay the topic of sin and portray God as some kind of self-help guru who exists to meet all your personal desires. They preach inclusion and tolerance at the expense of God’s holiness and man’s need of repentance and salvation from sin. They teach the love of God as some kind of syrupy, sweet, all-accepting idea where God never opposes sin and never condemns the sinner. In essence, they emasculate God, turning Him into a doddering grandfather in the sky who doles out blessings on any and all, free from judgment and mindless of the idea of accountability. But this is not the God of the Bible. And like the false priests and prophets of Israel, the pastors, teachers, evangelists and prophets of today who lead people away from the one true God, will be held responsible by God for their actions.

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No Knowledge of God.

Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel, for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, and even the fish of the sea are taken away. – Hosea 4:1-3 ESV

God now begins to list His accusations against Israel. The remaining chapters will contain messages containing clear indications of Israel’s guilt and God’s coming judgment. But they will also be mixed with messages concerning God’s hope and Israel’s future restoration. The judgment Israel faced was a result of the sins of the people. God was not being unfair or capricious. They were only getting what they justly deserved. But their future restoration would be totally undeserved, a result of God’s mercy and grace.

As if in a courtroom setting, God begins to list out all the offenses for which the nation Israel was guilty. In this case, He will list out the overall charges and then expand on them in later chapters. All of the charges leveled against Israel by God have to do with breaking their covenant with Him. He first accuses the Israelites of faithlessness. When God made His covenant with Israel through Moses, He had clearly told them, “Therefore, be careful to obey every command I am giving you today, so you may have strength to go in and take over the land you are about to enter. If you obey, you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors and to you, their descendants—a land flowing with milk and honey!” (Deuteronomy 11:8-9 NLT). Obedience would bring God’s blessings.

But if they failed to keep God’s covenant by obeying His commands, they would experience cursings. “But be careful. Don’t let your heart be deceived so that you turn away from the Lord and serve and worship other gods. If you do, the Lord’s anger will burn against you. He will shut up the sky and hold back the rain, and the ground will fail to produce its harvests. Then you will quickly die in that good land the Lord is giving you” (Deuteronomy 11:16-17 NLT). At this point in Israel’s history, their rebellion against Him had reached an unacceptable level. They had proven themselves completely unfaithful and unwilling to obey the commands of God as outlined in the Mosaic covenant. As a result, they faced His judgment, just as He had warned.

But if you refuse to listen to the Lord your God and do not obey all the commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overwhelm you: Your towns and your fields will be cursed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be cursed. Your children and your crops will be cursed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be cursed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be cursed. The Lord himself will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in everything you do, until at last you are completely destroyed for doing evil and abandoning me. – Deuteronomy 28:15-20 NLT

God had given them fair warning, now He was going to fulfill His promise of coming curses. The most telling accusation against the Israelites was that God claimed there was no knowledge of Him in the land. They had forgotten all about Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Instead, they had turned to false gods, including the two golden calves that Jeroboam had ordered to be made. They had also turned to Baal, the god of the Canaanites. But God, the only true god was a distant memory to them. But they were not only guilty of failing to love God, they had broken God’s command to love one another. They had disobeyed the greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV).

God accused them of “swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery” (Hosea 4:2a ESV). These are relational sins committed against one another. God went on to say, “they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed” (Hosea 4:2b ESV). Failure to love God is always accompanied by an inability to express love to one another, because God is love. His laws were designed to motivate the Israelites to defer to one another in love. But if you choose to disobey God, you will end up turning inward, focusing all your attention on yourself in an attempt to fulfill your own selfish passions and desires.

Their rejection of God was going to cause the land to reject them. The land of milk and honey would become unyielding and unproductive. Just as God had warned them:

Your towns and your fields will be cursed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be cursed. Your children and your crops will be cursed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be cursed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be cursed. – Deuteronomy 28:16-19 NLT

The blessings of the land would be turned to cursings. They would learn that rejection of God always has consequences, especially for the people of God. Of all people, we should know better. Having experienced His love, redemption, provision, blessings and unmerited favor, we should have a desire to express gratitude through willing obedience. When we have enjoyed the benefits of His love, why would we ever choose to turn our backs on Him and risk undergoing the removal of His blessings? But that is exactly what Israel had done and what so many of us as Christians do each and every day. Obedience always brings blessings. We enjoy His favor and rest in His love. Not because of our obedience, but as a result of how God has designed our relationship with Him. Obedience is a sign of trust. It reveals that we believe Him for who He is and what He has promised to us. We trust in His promises, so we willingly obey His commands. Obedience does not make us righteous before God, but it is a response to our having been declared righteous by Him. When we forget all that God has done for us, we run the risk of forgetting God. God had warned the Israelites that this could and would happen.

The Lord your God will soon bring you into the land he swore to give you when he made a vow to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is a land with large, prosperous cities that you did not build. The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant. When you have eaten your fill in this land, be careful not to forget the Lord, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. You must fear the Lord your God and serve him. – Deuteronomy 6:10-13 NLT

Forgetting God is dangerous and always a distinct possibility for each and every one of us.

God Will…

And the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.” For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days. – Hosea 3:1-5 ESV

Evidently, a fair amount of time had passed since chapter one. Gomer, Hosea’s wife, had left him and committed adultery, having been “loved by another man”. Not only that, she had become the property of that man, little more than his personal slave. Having rejected the love of Hosea, she had essentially sold herself off to another man in order to survive. Hosea had been forced to watch his wife, the mother of his three children, walk out on him and give herself to another man. There is little doubt that Hosea was better able to relate to the pain and anger that God felt toward Israel because of their unfaithfulness. Hosea had done nothing to deserve the treatment he had received from Gomer. He had been faithful. He had been loving. He had provided for her. But she had turned her back on him, choosing to give herself to someone else.

But God commanded Hosea to show her love once again. He was to seek her out and bring her home. Not only that, it was going to cost him to do so. He would be forced to buy her out of her slavery. And it’s interesting to note that the price her paid for her was very low because her life had become worthless. It was the equivalent of the price paid for a dead slave. Paul paints a very similar situation when speaking of what God has done for those whom He has redeemed from sin. “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins” (Colossians 2:13 NLT). He essentially said the same thing to the believers in Ephesus:

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. – Ephesians 2:4-6 NLT

Hosea was going to have to buy Gomer out of dead-end life and there is no indication that she desired for him to do so. She was returning to him in remorse and repentance. She was not calling out to him in despair and dissatisfaction with her condition. This would all be Hosea’s doing. He would redeem her in spite of her. He would love her at a time when her love for him was non-existent. And God is using Hosea’s earthly relationship as an illustration of exactly what He was going to do for Israel.

Both Gomer and the people of Israel would have to go through a period of cleansing. Hosea would require Gomer to live with him for a certain length of time, during which she would not be able to seek out the affections or attention of another man. In the same way, Israel would go through a period of time when they would be unable to practice spiritual adultery against God. They would “dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods” (Hosea 3:4 ESV). After the Assyrians invaded the northern kingdom in 721 B.C., the Israelites would find themselves in captivity, unable to worship their false gods. They would have no king or kingdom. They would find themselves as little more than slaves, no longer able to commit the spiritual adultery they had before. Their condition would best be described as dead in their trespasses and sins.

And yet, just as Hosea was to do with Gomer, God would intervene. He would see to it that “the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days” (Hosea 3:5 ESV). After a period of time, God will restore Israel to their place as His children. But it will all be His doing. He will seek them out. He will restore them. He will reveal Himself to them. And He will shower His goodness on them.

The people of Israel are currently in this period of waiting. They have a kingdom, but no king. They have no temple and, therefore, no sacrificial system. They are no longer a theocracy, living under the leadership of God. But the day is coming when all that will change. God will faithfully restore them to their former condition, and Jesus Christ, the Messiah, will be their King and Lord. God’s plans for Israel are far from finished. He has much yet to accomplish on their behalf, and all that happens in the future will be as a result of His love, grace and mercy. He will love them in spite of them. He will restore them, not because they deserve it, but because He is faithful to keep His promises. That is the God we worship. He is loving, patient and kind. He is faithful. He keeps His promises. And He has a plan for this world that He is working out in His perfect timing. God will do what He has promised to do. He will finish what He has begun. He will fulfill His redemptive plan for Israel and for the church. We can count on it and rest in it.

You Are My God.

And in that day I will answer, declares the Lord, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel, and I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, “You are my people”; and he shall say, “You are my God.” – Hosea 2:21-23 ESV

Remember the three names that God commanded Hosea to give his children? His first son was to be named Jezreel, as a reminder of the sins of the Israelites committed in the Valley of Jezreel. His daughter was to be named Lo-ruhamah which means “no mercy”. His third child, a son, was to be named Lo-ammi, which means, “not my people”. As we have seen before, these names all held an important significance in God’s message that Hosea was to give to the people. His own family life was going to be a living testimony to the judgment, as well as, the love of God.

God was gracious to give Hosea a glimpse into the future so that the commands of the Lord regarding Gomer and their children would make sense. What God was telling Hosea to do  was not some arbitrary and unloving task designed to make his life difficult. It was meant to give the actions of God regarding the people of Israel an earthly and easy-to-understand picture of what was going to happen. And it was probably as much for Hosea’s sake as it was for the people of Israel.

God graciously informed Hosea about a day to come when He would renew and restore the people of Israel, but not because they would somehow deserve it. He would reach out and redeem them in spite of their spiritual adultery and unfaithfulness. And God told Hosea, “in that day…” He would do some pretty incredible things for the people of Israel, ultimately restoring them to their former position as His children. Even the land of promise, given to the people of Israel to Abraham by God would go through a physical transformation. God would bring about the miracle of agricultural rebirth. And it is interesting to note that Baal, one of the false gods that the people of Israel worshiped, was known as the Canaanite god of rain and fertility. What he had been unable to do for the people of Israel, God would do. This is where the names given to the children of Hosea come in. The name Jezreel meant “God will sow” and spoke of what God would do for the land of Israel “in that day”. The name Lo-ruhamah or No Mercy referred to God’s present attitude toward Israel, but God told Hosea that the day was coming when He would show mercy on No Mercy. The name Lo-ammi or Not My People, which was a reminder of the Israelites’ current status before God because of their sins, also plays an important role in God’s future plans for Israel’s restoration. He told Hosea, “I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’” (Hosea 2:23 ESV). In that day, things would be different. God would not only restore the Israelites to their former place of prominence as His people, He would make that relationship even better than it had been before. They would not just worship God out of duty, but out of delight. He would not just be another deity thrown in among their litany of false gods. He would be their one and only God. And they would say to Him, “You are my God” (Hosea 2:23 ESV).

There is a personal, intimate aspect to that phrase, “You are my God”. It conveys the idea of an up-close and personal relationship, in which God and His people enjoy unbroken and non-distracted community, free from unfaithfulness and idolatry. God would no longer have to compete for their attention and affection. He would be their only God. It is interesting to note that the apostle Paul used this very passage when speaking to the Gentile converts in the church in Rome.

As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’ And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’” – Romans 9:25-26 ESV

Paul was not appropriating the prophecy of Hosea regarding the people of Israel and transferring it to the church, but he was simply using it to illustrate that God grace and mercy regarding all mankind is one and the same. Regarding the Gentiles or non-Jews, God takes those who were not His people (Jews) and makes them His children. He does this when they place their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior. When they do, He shows them mercy and He makes them sons and daughters of the living God, not because of anything they have done or any merit on their part. It is all due to the grace and goodness of God.

In terms of the immediate future for Israel, things were going to get worse before they got better. Their destruction was coming. God’s punishment on their sins was unavoidable and inevitable. But there was going to be a happy ending to the story. Why? Because God is the author of that story and He is loving, gracious, merciful and forever faithful. The story of redemption is a love story. It reveals the love of God towards a rebellious and unloving people, both Jews and Gentiles. While some people may rail against the judgment of God, they fail to recognize that any mercy shown to any human being is due to God’s love, not man’s merit. As the apostle Paul so succinctly said it, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 ESV) and the punishment for that sin is death (Romans 6:23). No one is righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). Everyone human being on the planet is living in opposition and rebellion to God and deserve His just judgment. But He graciously offers mercy and restoration through His Son. He provided a remedy to man’s deadly sin problem by sending His Son to die on man’s behalf. Jesus lived the life we could not live and died the death we deserved to die – so that we might have eternal life and be able to say, “You are my God”.

Renewal and Restoration.

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.

And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me “My Husband,” and no longer will you call me “My Baal.” For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord. – Hosea 2:14-20 ESV

The unfaithfulness of Israel was deserving of the punishment that God had prophesied against it. Their failure to love and obey Him would not be overlooked. And yet, God promised restoration. It is amazing how often we can read the Old Testament prophesies against Israel and Judah and concentrate only on the anger and wrath of God. If we are not careful, we can paint a one-dimensional image of God that makes Him out to be vengeful and prone to destruction. But as God shared with Hosea, He had something more in store for the nation of Israel than their devastating defeat to the Assyrians and their subsequent captivity. God offers them a word of good news, telling them of what would eventually follow their self-inflicted fall from God’s good graces. He announces through the prophet, Hosea, “in that day.” A day was coming when God would restore His wayward people to their original position as His chosen possession. “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal’” (Hosea 2:16 ESV). 

It is important to remember that God had told Hosea that his wife, Gomer, would bear him three children and then prove unfaithful to him as she turned to a life of prostitution. And Hosea was going to learn that his God-given responsibility would be to buy his wife back from a life of prostitution, forgiving and restoring her to her original place as his wife. All of this was going to visibly illustrate what was going to happen between God and the people of Israel “in that day.” When the time came, according to God’s divine plan, the people of Israel would once again call God “my husband.” In other words, the once broken relationship would be restored. Not because of anything Israel would do, but all because of the grace and mercy of God Himself. And instead of calling on Baal as their god, they would begin to recognize and honor God as their sole source of sustenance and the object of their worship and adoration.

God says, “I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth” (Hosea 2:17 ESV), and “I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground” (Hosea 2:18 ESV). He tells them, “I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land and I will make you lie down in safety” (Hosea 2:19 ESV). But there was more: “I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness” (Hosea 2:19-20 ESV). In spite of all that Israel had done to dishonor and disobey God, He would one day restore them and renew their relationship with Him.

But the most amazing promise God makes to the people of Israel is at the end of verse 20: “And you shall know the Lord.” There is a tone of intimacy in those words. This is not referring to mere intellectual knowledge, but to a close and personal relationship. The prophet, Jeremiah, told of this same great day.

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. – Jeremiah 31:31-34 ESV

All of this will be based on the initiative of God. It will have nothing to do with Israel’s earning of God’s mercy or grace. It will not be based on their future obedience or determination to repent of their sins and return to the Lord. From start to finish, this will be the work of God, done on behalf of the nations of Israel and Judah, and in spite of their years of rebellion and rejection of Him as their God and King. God’s unfailing love will one day be revealed in such a way that Israel, His unfaithful bride, will be restored by Him and given a second chance at experiencing His love, mercy and blessings.

Our God is a tender, loving, compassionate and forgiving God. He is always faithful. He never stops loving His children and He never fails to accomplish what He has started or fulfill what He has promised. God will not wait until Israel gets its act together and turns back to Him. He will be the instigator and originator of the restoration process, proving yet again His unfailing faithfulness.

When God Is Not Enough.

Say to your brothers, “You are my people,” and to your sisters, “You have received mercy.”

Plead with your mother, plead—for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband—that she put away her whoring from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts; lest I strip her naked and make her as in the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and make her like a parched land, and kill her with thirst.

Upon her children also I will have no mercy, because they are children of whoredom. For their mother has played the whore; she who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, “I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.”

Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths. She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them. Then she shall say,I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now.”

And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal. Therefore I will take back my grain in its time, and my wine in its season, and I will take away my wool and my flax, which were to cover her nakedness. Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall rescue her out of my hand. And I will put an end to all her mirth, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her appointed feasts. And I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees, of which she said, “These are my wages, which my lovers have given me.” I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall devour them. And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals when she burned offerings to them and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers and forgot me, declares the Lord. – Hosea 2:1-13 ESV

The narrative suddenly moves from God giving directions to Hosea regarding his wife and children to His real purpose behind the book: His assessment of Israel’s faithfulness. The whole point in Hosea having marry a woman who would prove unfaithful to him was to illustrate the long-standing unfaithfulness of Israel to God. And God’s command for Hosea to give his children such odd and offensive names was to make a painful point to the people of Israel. Even as the prophet of God, Hosea was going to have an up-close and personal experience with what unfaithfulness really looked and felt like. His own wife would leave him for a life of prostitution, and every time he called his children by name, he would be reminded of this painful fact.

But God’s primary purpose was to communicate to Israel just how grieved and angry He was with their sin of apostasy. From the moment their nation had been formed, they had chosen to reject Him as God. Jeroboam had commanded the construction of his own gods – golden calves – so that the people would not be tempted to return to Jerusalem to worship. He even appointed his own priests and set up his own temples. And God was not pleased.

Verse one appears to be tied directly to the closing verses of chapter one, where God had foretold of the coming restoration of the entire nation of Israel. There was a day coming when He would once again bless Israel and restore them to their privileged position as His children. He would even restore the divided nation, making them one once again. “And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head” (Hosea 1:11 ESV). In that day, both Judah and Israel will be able to call each other brothers and claim to be God’s people. The names Hosea gave to his two children would no longer apply. This is a future-oriented prophecy dealing with the millennial kingdom of Christ, but because God is faithful, it is guaranteed to happen.

But until that day arrived, God would deal with Israel according to their sin as a nation. And God made it quite clear to Hosea how He viewed the nation. “But now bring charges against Israel—your mother—for she is no longer my wife, and I am no longer her husband. Tell her to remove the prostitute’s makeup from her face and the clothing that exposes her breasts” (Hosea 2:2 NLT). God was fed up. He had had enough. And the rest of the verses in this passage reflect just what God thought about the nation of Israel. They had been unfaithful to Him. Like a prostitute, they had thrown themselves at any god that had come along, including Baal, the god of the Canaanites. They had sought from false gods what they should have only expected to receive from the hand of God Almighty. In fact, God made it clear that it had been Him who had provided for her all along yet “she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold” (Hosea 2:8 ESV). And what had they done with all that God had given them? They had used it all to worship a false god. They had taken the blessings of God and used them to make offerings to a god who didn’t even exist.

Now God was going to remove His hand of blessing and protection from them, and they would find no relief from those gods to whom it had turned. Their destruction was coming. Spiritual unfaithfulness always has ramifications. We cannot abuse the grace and mercy of God repeatedly and not expect there to be consequences. Israel was taking its status as God’s chosen people for granted. They were treating His goodness with contempt. And we can do the same thing today. We can be guilty of taking the blessings of God – our talents, resources, gifts, etc. – and using them to “worship” and serve the gods of this world. Like Israel, we can end up turning to false gods rather than the one true God for our hope and help. Trusting in men, money, governments and other institutions rather than God will never provide us with that for which we are looking. God wanted Israel to love and trust Him. He wants us to turn to Him for all our needs. We are to be His people, living life according to His terms and in complete dependence upon His strength.

Our Faithful God.

She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the Lord said to him, “Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all.  But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.”

When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son. And the Lord said, “Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”

Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel. – Hosea 1:6-11 ESV

After eventually giving birth to Jezreel, Hosea’s first son, Gomer would go on to conceive and bear two additional children to Hosea – a daughter who Hosea was instructed to name, “No Mercy” and a second son who was to be called “Not My People.” The girl’s name would literally be, “She Is Not Loved.” Now to get the full impact of what is going on here, you have to imagine Hosea calling out the names of his children on a daily basis, just as you and I do within our own families. Every time Hosea wanted to get the attention of one of his children or to introduce them to someone, he would be reminded of the tenuous status between the people of Israel and their God. Neighbors, family members and friends would also receive a not-so-subtle or appreciated nudge as to the spiritual state of the nation. The real sufferers in this context would have been the children themselves, whose very name would be like badges of dishonor their entire lives. What parent in their right mind would want to invite a kid named “No Mercy” or “Not My People” to their child’s birthday party?

But as usual, God’s purposes went far deeper than the personal sufferings of either Hosea or his children. God would making a divine statement about His dissatisfaction with His people. Their actions against Him were unacceptable and His judgment on them was going to be unavoidable. Things had gotten so bad in the northern kingdom of Israel that God was forced to conclude, “I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all” (Hosea 1:6 ESV). And even scarier than that was His sobering pronouncement, “for you are not my people, and I am not your God” (Hosea 1:9 ESV). God was going to give them over to their own rebellious desires. He was going to bring judgment for their unrepentant actions against Him.

God was in no way breaking His covenant promises with Israel. He was simply telling them that the relationship they had enjoyed with Him up until that time was about to radically change. His provision, protection and power would be removed. They had come to believe that their relative success as a nation was due to their status as the children of God, but now God was warning them that that was all about to change – radically. God, who is holy and righteous, cannot turn a blind eye to sin. He cannot simply tolerate or overlook the rebellion of those whom He has called His own. He was going to give the Israelites over to the natural inclinations of their hearts. They didn’t want to serve and obey Him, so He would make it possible for them to come out from under His rule and reign, and experience the “freedom” they so desperately craved.

And yet, God tells Hosea that at the same time, “I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord their God” (Hosea 1:7 ESV). When the history of the two divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah are examined closely, it is evident that both were guilty of unfaithfulness, but the southern kingdom of Judah has within its less-than-ideal historical chronology a few bright moments when a king would come to the surface who would serve God and lead the people in a renewed obedience to Him. These kings were few and far between, but they provide a marked contrast to the long line of rulers over the northern kingdom of who each, “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (1 Kings 16:25 ESV). It is important to remember that God had promised King David that He would establish his kingdom forever. “Your house and your kingdom will continue before me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever” (2 Samuel 7:16 NLT). God also told Solomon, David’s son, “I will establish the throne of your dynasty over Israel forever. For I made this promise to your father, David: ‘One of your descendants will always sit on the throne of Israel’” (1 Kings 9:5 NLT). So a major part of God’s promise to show mercy on the southern kingdom of Judah was in order to keep His promise to David. It was not that Judah was more faithful than Israel, but that God was faithful to fulfill all that He had promised. The southern kingdom of Judah was named after one of the two tribes from which it was comprised. And it was to be through the tribe of Judah, David’s tribe, that the Messiah would come. The prophet, Micah, had predicted, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past” (Micah 5:2 NLT).

In the midst of all the gloom and doom of this passage is found a small, but highly significant word: “Yet.” God tells Hosea, “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ it shall be said to them, ‘Children of the living God’” (Hosea 1:11 ESV). In spite of all that God had said regarding His removal of His mercy and His rejection of the nation of Israel as His children, He was not done. His anger would not be long-lasting and His rejection would not be permanent. They may have proved unfaithful, but He would not be. The day was coming when His judgment would be unleashed on them in the form of the Assyrian army. But there was also a day coming when God would restore the entire nation of Israel – all twelve tribes – to their rightful place as His children. “And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel” (Hosea 1:11 ESV).

Too often we read passages like this one and focus solely on the judgment of God. But in doing so we miss out on the real message of His faithfulness. We fail to remember the rest of the story. God is not done yet. The redemptive story He is writing is far from finished. His faithfulness is beyond question and His steadfast, unfailing commitment to His promises is unshakeable. Israel would fail God, but He would not fail Israel. Even the southern tribe of Judah would end up falling under God’s wrath for their rebellion, but He would not abandon them forever. Why? Because He is the faithful, covenant-keeping God.

Testing God’s Patience.

When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. And the Lord said to him, “Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.” – Hosea 1:2-5 ESV

Talk about a tough assignment. Hosea had been chosen by God to be his mouthpiece to the ten northern tribes of Israel. Being a prophet of God was a hard enough job without the special added task that Hosea was given by God. God instructed Hosea to “take for yourself a wife of whoredom.” This poses all kinds of ethical questions. Would God really command His prophet to marry a prostitute and, by doing so, defile himself? God had warned concerning the Levitical priests, “They shall not marry a prostitute or a woman who has been defiled, neither shall they marry a woman divorced from her husband, for the priest is holy to his God” (Leviticus 21:7 ESV). It seems unlikely that God would ask one of His prophets to violate the same command He had given to priests. So it would see that God was speaking prophetically about what was going to happen between Hosea and his future wife. This interpretation seems to make the most sense and would parallel the experience between God and the people of Israel. When Hosea married Gomer, she would initially be faithful, just as Israel had been to God, but in time she would sell herself like a prostitute, proving unfaithful to Hosea. God was going to use Hosea’s family as a visual illustration of the blatant unfaithfulness of the people of Israel, as is clear by his words to Hosea: “for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.”

Can you imagine the impact these words had on Hosea when he heard them? And yet, amazing, we read of no dissent or disagreement from Hosea. In fact, the text reads, “So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son” (Hosea 1:3 ESV). Knowing what he knew, Hosea still obeyed God. Hosea and Gomer were blessed by the birth of a son, but as God had warned, he would be a child of whoredom. What this most likely means is that when Gomer eventually turned to prostitution, her children would be recognized as children of a prostitute. Their character would be questioned because of their mother’s immoral actions. Just as generations of Israelites were saddled with the legacy left by their ancestors – a legacy of immorality and unfaithfulness to God.

God commanded Hosea to name his new son, Jezreel, which means, “God sows.” It refers to the scattering of seed by a farmer. But the real significance of the boy’s name would be linked to the Valley of Jezreel, where God said He was going “to punish King Jehu’s dynasty to avenge the murders he committed at Jezreel. In fact, I will bring an end to Israel’s independence. I will break its military power in the Jezreel Valley” (Hosea 1:4-5 NLT). It was years earlier, in the Valley of Jezreel, that Jehu, the newly anointed king of Israel murdered the reigning king, Joram. But not only that, he took the life of Ahaziah, the king of Judah. Jehu would go on a killing spree, taking the life of Jezebel, and slaughtering the 42 family members of King Ahaziah. He also wiped out any of the prophets of Baal that were left after Elijah’s encounter with them on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18). Jehu seemed to enjoy his killing spree and saw himself as acting on behalf of God. But God made it clear to Hosea that He was going to avenge the slaughter committed by Jehu in the Valley of Jezreel. He was going to bring an end to the dynasty of Jehu in Israel. It would occur some years later when Shallum murdered Zechariah, a descendant of Jehu, and made himself king of Israel. 

So what’s the point of all this? God takes sin seriously. He will not tolerate the sins of those who even believe they are acting on His behalf. Jehu thought he was doing God a favor by wiping out Jezebel and the prophets of Baal, but he overstepped his authority. He made himself judge, jury and executioner, and he would answer to God for his actions.

The incredible thing about this passage is that Hosea was going to have to watch as his wife and children became visual illustrations of God’s indictment of the people of Israel for their unfaithfulness. But as we will soon discover, they would also prove to be living examples of God’s steadfast love and forgiveness. Hosea would be allowed to play the part of God in the life of his rebellious wife. This real-life scenario would have a dramatic impact on those who watched God’s prophet wrestle with the unrequited love of his unfaithful wife. But he would persevere. He would patiently reach out to her and love her, in spite of her. Just as God had done for years with the people of Israel.

But there would be a limit to God’s patience. He would not tolerate Israel’s unfaithfulness forever. And in 733 B.C., the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pilesar would destroy Israel and take the people into captivity, never to return. In the meantime, God was calling His people to return to Him. He used the prophets to warn them of the danger to come. He begged them to give up their idolatry and return to Him, just as Hosea would beg his wife to return to him and remain faithful. God is loving. He is kind. He is patient. But He is also holy and will not tolerate unfaithfulness forever. The judgment and justice of God are not to be taken lightly. He sent His Son into the world to provide salvation. But there are those who reject His offer and spurn His attempt to love them through the redemptive death of His Son. The day is coming when the offer will be removed and the opportunity to be saved is no more. The apostle Paul would have everyone come to grips with the incredible kindness and patience of God, so that they would not refuse His offer of salvation.

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will judge everyone according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. – Romans 2:4-8 NLT

 

A Message of Love.

The word of the Lord that came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. – Hosea 1:1 ESV

Amos was a prophet. As such, he was a spokesman for God. He acts as God’s voice, so-to-speak, proclaiming God’s pending judgment against the people of Israel for their rebellion against His law. Amos prophesied during the time of the two kingdoms. After Solomon, the son of David, had ended his reign by worshiping the idols of his many wives, God split the kingdom in two. Ten tribes would form the nation of Israel to the north and two tribes would remain in the south, forming the nation of Judah. From that point forward there would be two different kings over the two separate nations, and there would be constant animosity between the tribes. Amos would prophesy during the reign of Jeroboam II, the king of Israel. During that same time, the southern kingdom of Judah would have four different kings: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.

When God called Hosea to begin his ministry, the nation of Israel was experiencing a time of prosperity. The book of 2 Kings records, “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Judah’s King Amaziah, son of Joash, Jeroboam son of Joash became king over Israel. He reigned for forty-one years in Samaria” (2 Kings 14:23 ESV). Samaria was the capital of the northern kingdom. We’re told that Jeroboam II “restored the border of Israel from Lebo Hamath in the north to the sea of the Arabah in the south, in accordance with the word of the Lord God of Israel announced through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher” (2 Kings 14:25 ESV). As king, he experienced great “military success in restoring Israelite control over Damascus and Hamath” (2 Kings 14:28 ESV). But there was a sinister side to King Jeroboam. “He did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not repudiate the sinful ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat who encouraged Israel to sin” (2 Kings 14:24 ESV). In other words, he followed in the footsteps of his namesake, King Jeroboam I.

Jeroboam I, the first king of the northern kingdom, had been placed there by God. While Solomon was still on the thrown over the as-yet-undivided nation of Israel, God sent his prophet, Ahijah, to Jeroboam with news. God had instructed Ahijah to take his new cloak and tear it into 12 pieces, representing the 12 tribes of Israel. He gave ten of the pieces to Jeroboam, saying, “Take ten of these pieces, for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: ‘I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon, and I will give ten of the tribes to you!…For Solomon has abandoned me and worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess fo the Sidonians; Chemosh, the god of Moab; and Molech, the god of the Ammonites. He has not followed my ways and done what is pleasing in my sight. He has not obeyed my decrees and regulations as David his father did” (1 Kings 11:31-33 NLT). God went on to tell Jeroboam, “And I will place you on the throne of Israel, and you will rule over all that your heart desires. If you listen to what I tell you and follow my ways and do whatever I consider to be right, and if you obey my decrees and commands, as my servant David did, then I will always be with you. I will establish an enduring dynasty for you as I did for David, and I will give Israel to you. Because of Solomon’s sin I will punish the descendants of David—though not forever” (1 Kings 11:37-39 NLT).

Jeroboam I, having heard the word of God through His prophet, would arrogantly use his new-found power as king of the northern tribes to do what he wanted to do. Fearing that the ten tribes would eventually rebel against him, Jeroboam came up with a plan to prevent them from having to return to Jerusalem, located in the heart of Israel to the south. He feared that if they returned there each year to offer sacrifices to Yahweh, they would eventually turn on him. So he had two golden calves made and set them up in Bethel and Dan, telling the people of Israel, “It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!” (1 Kings 12:28 NLT). He went on to ordain his own priests and establish his own religious festivals.

There was a long line of kings to rule of Israel after Jeroboam I died. And all of them share the same sad legacy. They all “did what was evil in the Lord’s sight” (2 Kings 14:24 NLT). Of Jeroboam II, it is said, “He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam son of Nebat had led Israel to commit” (2 Kings 14:24 NLT). So it was into that context that Hosea was called by God to prophesy. Years of sin, rebellion and apostasy had long hardened the hearts of the people. Generations of idol worship had caused them to forget Yahweh. But in the midst of all of this, God would bring his message regarding the sins of the people of Israel, the coming judgment, the means of salvation, and His steadfast love. And He would choose to do it through Hosea, this simple servant who would be required to model the faithful love of God through his own life. Hosea would have the distinct privilege and unbelievable burden to demonstrate in real life what the love of God looks like. The story of Hosea is one of spiritual adultery and unfaithfulness, but also of Godly love and forgiveness. Hosea would have the unenviable position of having to experience what God does every time His people spurn His love and reject His appeals to return to Him in repentance. This book is a call to spiritual fidelity and faithfulness. It is a warning against taking God’s mercy and grace for granted.

It is interesting to note that Hosea’s name means, “He [Yahweh] has saved” and is a variation of “Joshua” which in the Greek is translated, Jesus. Hosea will be called on by God to sacrifice everything in order to restore his unfaithful wife. And we must never forget that God sacrificed His greatest treasure, His Son, in order to restore us to a right relationship with Himself.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation – Romans 5:8-9 NLT

Only By God’s Grace.

So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.

Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. – Ephesians 6:21-23 ESV

For the first time in his letter, Paul turned his attention to himself. He had written the letter while under house arrest in Rome, awaiting trial. He had been arrested in Jerusalem having been accused by the Jews of defiling the temple by bringing Gentiles into it (Acts 21:28-30). The Jews had been so incensed at Paul that they were going to kill him, but he had been rescued by Roman soldiers. Paul ended up defending himself before the Sanhedrin, the Roman governor, King Agrippa, and eventually was shipped off to Rome because, as a Roman citizen, he had appealed for a trial before Caesar. So while under house arrest, he had written this letter to the Ephesians. In fact, Paul wrote many of his letters while physically detained in Rome. He made very good use of his time and continued to minister to the churches he had helped to plant.

Paul had a special place in his heart for the believers in each of the cities to which he wrote. He saw them as his spiritual children. He had a pastor’s heart for them, worrying about their spiritual well-being and knowing that they were all under spiritual attack from the enemy. That is why he wrote his many letters. He wanted to educate, encourage and instruct them in the faith. He desired to see them grow in Christ-likeness and continue to spread the good news of Jesus Christ around the world.

Paul knew that the churches to which he had ministered so faithfully worried about him. They were concerned with his well-being. They each felt a certain sense of dependency upon him as their spiritual mentor and father in the faith. So Paul regularly kept them updated as to his condition. With everything else going on, he did not want them to have to worry about him. So he told them he would send Tychicus, “the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord” to bring them up to speed. It seems that Paul used Tychicus in this way quite often (Acts 20:4; Colossians 4:7; Titus 3:12; 2 Tiomothy 4:12). He was one of Paul’s constant companions and was able to travel to these various cities and keep the believers there informed as to the current status of Paul’s imprisonment and trial. Paul’s main purpose in sending Tychicus was that they might be encouraged. He did not want them worrying about him. He knew that they did not need any more distractions or discouragement than they already had.

Paul loved others. He cared deeply about them and was willing to do whatever it took to see that they grew in faith. He could be hard on them, pointing out their weaknesses and flaws. He could also be passionately compassionate, encouraging them in their weakness and calling them to not lose faith. Like a loving parent, Paul wanted what was best for his children, and he was willing to sacrifice his own life to see that the flock of God was healthy and whole. Paul was the consummate shepherd. Paul shared the heart of Jesus, who said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11 ESV). As a matter of fact, prior to heading to Rome to await his trial before Caesar, Paul had called for the elders from Ephesus and told them, “So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock – his church, purchased with his own blood – over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders” (Acts 20:28 NLT). And Paul had lived out that admonition in his own life – all the way from Rome. Paul had lived out the calling for elders penned by the apostle Peter.

Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly – not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. – 1 Peter 5:2 NLT

And in keeping with his role as a shepherd, Paul closed out his letter with a prayer for his flock in Ephesus. He prayed for three things: peace, love and faith. Peace is not an absence of trouble, but an awareness of God’s presence in the midst of trying times. Peace also can mean harmony between individuals. Paul knew that there would be plenty of potential for turmoil in the churches of Ephesus, because churches are comprised of people. And he knew that peace was going to be necessary if they were going to grow together and experience the unity that God desired for them. But peace is only possible when love is present. Mutual love is what brings about peace. The sacrificial, selfless love Paul for which Paul was praying is unifying, not dividing. It is healing, not hurtful. It is other-oriented, not self-centered. But the kind of love Paul is talking about is only possible through faith in Christ. It is not a self-manufactured kind of love, but is a natural expression of the love that God has for us by sending His own Son to die on our behalf. “We love each other because he loved us first” (1 John 4:19 NLT). In fact, all three of these attributes – peace, love and faith – come from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. They are divine gifts to the church and they are to be used for the mutual edification of one another.

Paul closed his letter the same way he opened it, with an emphasis on the grace of God. “Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible” (Ephesians 6:24 ESV). The grace of God, His undeserved favor, is the most remarkable thing any of us have ever received. But it is easy to lose sight of His grace and mistakenly assume that we somehow deserve His love. We can end up thinking that we are worthy of His forgiveness and capable of living the Christian life in our own strength. But Paul would have us remember that it is the grace of God that made our salvation possible. It is the grace of God that makes our sanctification achievable. It is the grace of God that makes loving He and His Son feasible. All that we are and all that we do is made possible by the grace of God.

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin!