God's Unrelenting Love, Hosea 14
I don’t intend to re-cap the entire teaching from Sunday in this space, but I do want to encourage you all as we’re halfway through the week to continue reflecting on the “unrelenting love” of God that is demonstrated in the book of Hosea.
The opening verses of Hosea 11, which we read on Sunday, have stuck with me. This is where God is comparing his relationship with His people to a father’s relationship with his son: “I loved him,” “I taught him to walk,” “I bent down to them and fed them.” Still, they turned away from God repeatedly and would have to face severe consequences. In verse 9, though, God says, “I will not execute my burning anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.” God’s resolve here affirms the idea that our relationship with Him has always relied solely on His action and not on ours. In fact, one of the points of Hosea is to highlight God’s faithfulness in spite of our unfaithfulness.
I may go a step further here and note that if our study has done nothing but emphasize our own sin and shame, we’re missing the point completely. This is not a book about us and our problems—it’s a book about God and his unrelenting love. Chapter 14, the final one of the book, includes a brief confessional prayer that acknowledges sin, gives honor to God, and recognizes that we often trust in all sorts of things other than God for our peace and self-worth. (Outside comforts, personal ways of coping.) That prayer reads like this:
“Take away all iniquity;
accept what is good,
and we will pay with bulls
the vows of our lips.
Assyria shall not save us;
we will not ride on horses;
and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’
to the work of our hands.
In you the orphan finds mercy.”
We ended our gathering Sunday with a more familiar sounding prayer, one that’s included in the Book of Common Prayer and has for many years been used to give words to the confession of our hearts. I’ll re-print it here, just in case any of us are still fighting to let go of the things that aren’t God that are holding our hearts captive.
Merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from your ways like lost sheep. We followed too much the desires of our own hearts and offended against your holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done; and there is no health in us. But have mercy on us, Lord. Spare those who confess their faults. Restore those who are penitent, according to your promise declared in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake, that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, to the glory of your holy name. Amen.
Connect with someone this week! Make a phonecall. Meet for lunch. Be blessed!