Saturday, December 20, 2008

His great graciousness

God’s people in the Old Testament were a stubborn lot (am I much different?). They resisted His will and unfaithfully turned to idols. In their spiritual backsliding, God never gave up on them. He continually wooed their hearts and made promises of hope and blessing.

This morning’s verses touch my heart once again concerning the mercy of God. He speaks through the prophet Hosea, first describing how His people abandoned Him. Then He says this:
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her (Israel), will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt” (Hosea 2:14-15).
God uses images from their history that would remind at least some of them of His patience and grace in the past. They were a stubborn people who insisted on their own way even after He delivered them from Egypt and took them forty years through the wilderness to the promised land. Achan sinned and brought judgment in the Valley of Achor where he and his family were punished by death, yet still they did no learn their lessons.

My commentary says that they were so obstinate that God has to “allure” or woo them by tempering His judgment with unexpected grace so He could win them to His ways. He would bring them into the “wilderness” which reminded them of their struggles and trials as they wandered forty years, a time where God helped them realize the horribleness of their sin and its bitter fruits.

Then, after all of that, they “met with the trouble resulting from Achan’s crime in this valley” at the very threshold of the promised land. However, that trouble was soon turned into joy at a great victory whereby they finally obeyed God and at Ai all Canaan was given into their hands. This was the “door of hope” opening to better days, accented by the fact that this valley of Achor was particularly fruitful.

This is the way God works. When I resist Him, He knows how to soften my stubbornness and bring me into obedience. He knows my history and reminds me of past disciplines and blessings, helping me understand that by yielding this time, I can expect good things as a result.

Today our outside temperature is -28 Celsius, but these thoughts warm my heart and draw me near to the One who knows and cares about every difficulty and every need.

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