Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jul 17 2019 - Hosea 14 – Repentance and blessing

Hosea's home life formed a painful visual aid of the relationship between the Lord and Israel. Despite the unfaithfulness of Gomer, Hosea's wife, he continues to love her and seeks to draw her back to loving him. The Lord has the same love for Israel, despite their unfaithfulness to him.

Hosea 14 records Hosea's pleas to Israel that they should return to the Lord. They need to return in a spirit of repentance, seeking forgiveness. They should have learnt by now that there is no other power to save them and care for them like the Lord their God – Assyria will not save them (v.3).

In verses 4-8 the Lord speaks tenderly to his people. God knows that left to themselves they will not change their ways. So God will not wait for them to return to him; he will act in love towards them; "I will heal their waywardness and love them freely" (v.4). The verses then go on to speak of how Israel will again be prospered under God's blessing.

The chapter, and the book, then conclude with a word to the reader:

Who is wise? Let them realise these things.
    Who is discerning? Let them understand.
The ways of the LORD are right;
    the righteous walk in them,
    but the rebellious stumble in them. (Hosea 14:9)

All who read this sad story of Israel's faithlessness and God's judgment need to consider the implications for their own lives. If you are wise, you will take this lesson to heart, understand that God's ways are right and best and will seek to walk in them – to remain in the love of God.

This chapter of Hosea reminds me particularly of the parable Jesus told about the Prodigal Son or the Waiting Father. In that parable, the son who had rebelled against his father and squandered all that the father had given him at last comes to his senses and, with some trepidation, returns home. There he finds his father has been waiting and longing for his return. The prodigal is forgiven, embraced and generally made a fuss of, much to the elder brother's consternation.

The parable pictures God's longing for the return of his rebel children. But the best news of the Gospel is that our loving Father does not merely wait passively for his rebel children to return. Jesus is not like the elder son in the parable, on the contrary, he reflects the Father heart of God expressed in Hosea. He, the Father's obedient Son loved us so well that he left the Father's house and came to find us when we were sat in the degradation and poverty of our sins. He came to grant us forgiveness, heal us and restore us. He came to bring us back to the Father's house where there is great rejoicing over each rebel who returns home.

And, as Christ reflects the loving heart of the Father who grieves over his wayward children, so we are to reflect the heart of Christ who came to seek and to save those who were lost:

Filled with compassion for all creation,
Jesus came into a world that was lost.
There was but one way that He could save us,
Only through suffering death on a cross.
God, you are waiting. Your heart is breaking
For all the people who live on the earth.
Stir us to action, Filled with Your passion
For all the people who live on the earth. (Noel & Tricia Richards)

Loving Father, thank you for the embrace of your love. Lord Jesus, thank you that you were willing to come and find us when we were lost and to bring us home. Holy Spirit, help us to show the same love for those who are still far off from you and to invite them to come home.

Jul 17 2013 - Romans 4:1-12 – Father Abraham

Paul uses the example of Abraham to show that God receives all who come to him in faith, Jew or Gentile. Abraham was not a Jew, neither was Abraham circumcised when he believed the promises of God and began his pilgrimage with God. So he is the father of Gentile believers. He is also the father of Jewish believers, though not merely by physical parentage; he is the father of Jews who share the same faith as Abraham.

Salvation is all of grace; it begins with the initiative of God who calls and promises and acts for our salvation – to bring us to himself. Salvation is all of faith; the faith that responds to God’s call, lays hold on his promises and trusts in all that God has done to save us.

But there is more to say about Abraham for our encouragement. Abraham did not always lead a life of exemplary faith. His faith sometimes failed him. Twice he passed off his wife Sarah as his sister to get himself out of trouble – and twice God rescued him from the trouble that would otherwise have befallen him. His faith failed concerning the promise of a son through Sarah when he took her servant Hagar to bed to gain a child through her. Abraham knew God, but he often failed to act in a manner consistent with that knowledge. Thank God it is not our faith that commends us to God, for our faith, just like our conduct, often fails. Salvation is by God’s grace and by God’s power, though it is apprehended by feeble and faltering faith.

Such salvation is the source of great blessing – or perhaps, more accurately, is great blessing. Paul, is seeking to emphasise that God’s acceptance of us is not on the basis of what we have done but on the basis of what God has done for us in Christ. He quotes from Psalm 32:

Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.

As I read these words, I think of Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. He had taken and squandered all that his father had given him and, only when reduced to utter despair had thought to return to his father and ask to earn enough in his father’s employ to keep him from starvation. But in the story told by Jesus, the father was looking and longing for his son to return. He ran out to meet him, kissed him and received him back into the family home not as a slave but as a beloved son. He celebrated the son who was lost but who is now found. The father in the parable did not treat his son as he deserved but in a way that reflected his own extravagant and forgiving love. And this is how God has dealt with us – and how he continues to deal with us.

Praise God for the abundance of his undeserved blessings towards us. Walk in the footsteps of Abraham, the man of faith – at least, follow his example when he did walk by faith.

Father God, thank you that you called Abraham out of a pagan culture that he might know you and serve your great purpose of salvation and that, through him and his offspring, all peoples on earth might be blessed. Thank you that you enabled him to obey your call. Thank you also that, through the Lord Jesus, that blessing has extended to me and I have been made a member of Abraham’s family – the family of faith. Help me to walk in the footsteps of faith and to rejoice in all that you have done for me in the Lord Jesus Christ. May others be drawn to faith in him through the testimony of my life and words.

Peter Misselbrook