Words for the Fickle

heal“Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”  The prophet Hosea is speaking to a people that God dealt with so severely he uses words as torn and smitten.  The Contemporary English version words it bluntly, ‘he has torn us to shreds.” The Message version says “he hurt us…he hit us hard…”

People today are not used to hearing about God becoming angry at sin. The post modern Babylonians that have invaded the church with an unbiblical foreign tongue would call such a concept brutal, abusive or legalistic.  They cannot possibly understand how that anyone could be hurt or hit hard, needless torn to shreds by God. They think they have tamed God by changing the wallpaper and curtains as the market the church to the world but God remains an untamed lover of his people. The Bible clearly says, “They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger.” (Deut 32:16).

John Calvin says, “The Prophet means by these words, that God does not so punish men as to pour forth his wrath upon them for their destruction; but that he intends, on the contrary, to promote their salvation, when he is severe in punishing their sins…God has not inflicted on us deadly wounds; but he has smitten, that he might heal.” God chastisement of sin is non lethal for his own (Heb. 12:5-11). It is his purging and refining of his people. “When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.” (Isaiah 4:4). It is with this, “hot breath of fiery judgment” (NLT) that he deals with them.

Why? 

Israel has been faithless to God who is like their husband. Any husband seeing his wife and wife seeing her husband not only distracted but involved with another man or woman would be provoked to jealousy. God, “whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14) in his holiness has become like a consuming fire (Deut. 4:24) to cleanse away their unpredictable, fickle love.

God’s love always is revealed as a “covenant love.” The Hebrew word chesed (hesed) describes it as a love beyond law. It is beyond the stones given in the glorious older Covenant. That Covenant with the two copies of the Decalogue were given for God and his people and stored in the Ark of the Covenant. In the place of his throne, his heart, his presence they were stored. But now the New Covenant communicated from his heart is written on fleshly tablets of the human heart. Therefore, God is supremely devoted to his elect people and he desires them to love him supremely. He is committed to them not only to save their souls but to purify and make them holy in his sight.

God brought Eve to Adam. In the same way, Christ must present the church to himself.  He loves the church and gave himself for her. He loves her as his own body. The side of Adam was opened up to bring forth the sophisticated woman, Eve and Christ side was pierced on a bloody cross so that the water and blood to purchase our salvation!  In order for  us to be come closer to Christ He must be our Master and King. His role therefore is, “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. ” (Eph. 5:26-27).

It was the sun burned, weathered Shulamite, the woman who symbolizes the church who said, “the king hath brought me into his chambers”  (Song 1:4). She stands out like an Eliza Dolittle among the religious fashion models of the palace, and they will attempt to teach her all the right words to say and how to act. But her lover has seen a beauty beyond all the sterile, manicured looks of the daughters of Jerusalem. He loves her and he will work in her and transform her, “So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.” (Psalm 45:11). 

Have you left him for other loves? Have you substituted and replaced him with other things? You have provoked the one who gave his all for you. He has dealt with you harshly in your own eyes but our own human stubbornness must be broken by seeing the futility of a life that is lived without God. He invites you to return. His healing may not be immediate as your wounds scab over for a while but after a few days you will see that his face will shine on you and a new day will begin as you in his wholeness and love walk with him and know him more and more as the lover of your souls.

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