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"This is love... Not that we loved God"

I was checking out in a bookstore many years ago and purchasing a wonderful little commentary on the book of Deuteronomy. As a rule, clerks of any store do not comment on the purchases of their customers. I guess the title of the book was just too much for this young lady. Her face scrunched up a bit as she read out loud, "Deuteronomy: The Gospel of God's Love," you're kidding."

Many people look back to the 0. T. and see in it a God of anger and wrath who punished Israel. Is it possible they needed it? I have witnessed moms and dads whack the backsides of their children with varying degrees of severity and have done some too. It's never pleasant to watch or do. But a child lacking discipline is a sad spectacle (Prov. 29:1 5). The book of Hosea gives a unique insight into not only God's love for His people Israel but also His amazing continued love for them even as they left Him for idols and idolatry.

The book of Hosea is a love story, but not one with a happy ending. God declares His love for a beautiful people, a bride that he courted and married. But when God Showered her with blessings of all kinds, instead of gratitude, she turned from God to idols. God said Israel became a prostitute, a whore, lusting for idolatry (see Jeremiah chapters 2-5).

(Hosea 9:10 NIV) "When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your fathers, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree. But when they came to Baal Peor, they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol and became as vile as the thing they loved." God had warned Israel that His blessings were conditional. (Deut. 6:10-1 5 NIV) "When the LORD your God brings you into the land ... to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and He will destroy you from the face of the land."

As we read through the scriptures we see the plan of God unfolding. Abraham was called to follow God and promised that a mighty nation would come from him. That nation would be the people of Israel. But then we watch, in slow motion, as Israel turns away from God, over and over again. They turned to spiritual idolatry, to the murder of children as human sacrifices and to sexual promiscuity in the service of the human created idols.

Should God have continued to bless them even when they became immoral from top to bottom? The people did not see the blessings of God as blessings. They came to EXPECT everything good in life and then gave credit to idols! One has to finally ask, "Were their blessings really a blessing?"

Most of our lives we are filled with rich blessings. Our families, our country, our possessions, our opportunities, our freedoms, our safety, far exceed most nations of the world. We can see the failure of the children of Israel when they did not thank or honor God, even when richly blessed. Which leads to one final question, Will we do like they did and fail to acknowledge the hand of God, even when our lives are running over with good things?

- Tim Orbison


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