Links Daily Devotional

The Love of an Angry God

“I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.” (Hosea 14:4, NIV 1984)

Sometimes pars are made with but one good shot.

A drive can go left, into a deep fairway bunker. A lofted club is eked out of that bunker, but left short of the green. A faulty chip carries too deep and scurries well past the hole.

And then comes the putt.

Down it goes. Par achieved. Frustration exhaled. Satisfaction secured for one more hole.

The pattern of ancient Israel is much like one of these shoddy pars, except for this: two principals are teamed together. The first—Israel—makes all the errant shots. The second—the Lord—drains that putt that saves the day against all the misery before it.

In the book of Hosea (the prophet directed to marry an unfaithful woman that he might gain an accurate sense of the way God’s people repeatedly abandoned the Lord), we find nutshell descriptions of this operative pattern of Israel.

“Because your sins are so many and your hostility so great,” the prophet pronounced, “the prophet is considered a fool, the inspired man a maniac…They have sunk deep into corruption” (Hosea 9:7, 9). The people of Israel were so lost in their sin that they could not/would not listen to anyone who might show them the way out. Both sinful and stubborn, they had chosen a course that invited the anger of God.

“What’s that?” you ask. “How can the God of redeeming love be also a God who expresses anger at people who don’t know better?”

Of course, the people of Israel did know better. It was God who had rescued them in the past, guiding them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. It was God who was prepared to offer them his salvation even now. But they would not repent. They chose to remain masters of their own decisions—and the decision they had made was to worship any and all gods who were not their own true God.

But God could choose too. He could choose to set aside the anger his people deserved and choose mercy instead: “My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused” (Hosea 11:8).

So Hosea set forth in calling the people to respond in kind. “Say to him: ‘Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips’” (Hosea 14:2).

It was in response to such a turn of heart that God would turn over his. He would heal their waywardness and love them freely.

This offer remains. It’s the Good News Jesus came to secure: “You disdained me all the way to the cross. Your sins nailed me there. But I went all the same. I went all the way. I’ve loved you with an everlasting love. Won’t you lay hold of it now, turning from your sin to embrace all that I have for you, beginning with my true love?”

Jeff Hopper

September 27, 2012

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