Grace In The Wilderness
Dear sisters -- you did it! You have completed (or are very close to completing) the entire study on the book of Hosea! Well done! I hope your heart is full as you ponder all the treasures we have learned together. Stay tuned to our social media accounts (namely Instagram and Facebook) for the announcement of our next study. But before we look ahead, let’s spend some time reflecting on what we learned during this last week of Hosea:
It doesn’t matter how many times I study the book of Hosea, every time I reach the final chapter I am overwhelmed with the weight of the glory of God. I feel speechless. There truly is no one like our God.
For our final blog together, I wanted to keep it simple with just a few truths I’ve walked away with during this time together. I encourage you to summarize your findings too! Make a final list of highlighted truths you never want to forget and come back to it often.
. . .
“At that time, declares the LORD, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.” Thus says the LORD: “The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” (Jeremiah 31:1-3 ESV)
It’s often assumed by unbelievers and believers alike that the “God of the Old Testament” is mostly mad and judgemental; that He enjoys inflicting punishment and has little desire to show compassion. I’ve heard this comment from several people in my lifetime. While I agree that huge portions of the Old Testament are designated to both warnings and descriptions of God’s judgment, it’s like watching only the middle of a movie. For every chapter of judgement, there are chapters of pleading and chapters of promise surrounding it.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalms 103:8, ESV)
1. God never rushes into judgement without first soaking everything in grace.
I hope you have seen this truth during our time in Hosea. Yes, there have been difficult descriptions of God’s approaching judgement and consequences for sin, but laced throughout the entire book is a pulsing love and desire for restoration.
2. Every stroke of God’s judgment has a purpose.
As judgement began to sweep across the land, Israel’s adultery was purged. It’s easy to forget that even judgment has a purpose, and it’s never the end of the story. God brought a heavy load of consequences to His arrogant and adulterous bride, but it was intended to expose and purge the sin. Like we learned last week, God’s disciple yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness. (Isaiah 26:9, ESV)
At one time in my life, I assumed that God’s judgement meant God was turning His back. But Hosea taught me something different.
“I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.” (Hosea 5:15, ESV)
3. God doesn’t turn His back, He steps back.
But He’s always facing toward them.
Do you see how that word “until” is dripping with mercy? It’s the crack in the door, the candle in the window, the reminder that restoration is always possible. As they walked in their wilderness of consequences and judgement, grace followed them. And as we read above in Jeremiah 31, “When Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away.”
4. After judgement is given, God always waits for us to return.
The moment they stopped seeking idols/lovers and turned around to seek their First Love, He was standing in the distance waiting -- ready to remind them about His faithful love that is everlasting.
“If we are faithless, he remains faithful — for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13)
Did God have every right to walk away for good? Of course. But His grace doesn’t expire.
He steps back and watches His bride waltz away into the wilderness with lovers who will steal and kill and destroy the very beauty bestowed on her by God. But He waits. He waits and He watches for the moment she turns back to Him and acknowledges her guilt.
Then the rains of grace will come.
I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom like the lily;
he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;
his shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive,
and his fragrance like Lebanon.
They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow;
they shall flourish like the grain;
they shall blossom like the vine;
their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon. (Hosea 14:4-7, ESV)
5. With God, mercy always triumphs over judgment.
Even in judgement, there is mercy. Even in the wilderness, there is grace.
Kaysie Strickland is definitely nothing fancy. Jesus found her in a mess and won her with His Words. She feels called to be a servant of the Word and His people through spending her life and words proclaiming the reckless restoration available in the gospel. She is married to her best friend on earth, drinks lots of coffee + tea, constantly rearranges the furniture in her house (God bless her husband), loves gardening and DIY projects, enjoys long conversations over coffee, and loves all the words. She and her husband just had their first baby last week! You can find her on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Blog