but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. — Romans 5:8
Recently, while my husband and I were walking our dog, we found and returned our neighbor’s Husky, named Smokey, who was in another neighbor’s garage a few streets away from his home.
Poor Smokey had been a stray, running loose on the streets, when he was rescued and taken to the shelter from which his new family—our neighbors—adopted him. Brought into a loving and safe home with two children, a pair of friendly dogs, plenty of healthy food and water, and a beautiful backyard in which to play may have seemed like heaven to many strays, but Smokey wasn’t satisfied. He would escape at every opportunity, climbing or even chewing through the wooden fence to go run the neighborhood, scrounging in trash cans looking for food. It was as if he preferred his former life when he was orphaned and starving on the streets, with no one to love and care for him. Naturally this is frustrating to Smokey’s family, and they are at their wits’ end trying to figure out how to keep him home.
Silly and Without Sense
Chapter 7 of Hosea chronicles the evil ways of the Israelites, from the depravity and corruption of the royal court to the utter blindness of the nation who have lost sight of their calling to be the holy people of God. They have run so far from the Lord in their determination to sin that they have virtually become pagans. Instead of relying on the Lord for national defense they are calling to Egypt and going to Assyria seeking help (v. 11). Like a dove, says Hosea, they are “silly and without sense.”
Even still, God is waiting for them to call to him in repentance and return to him. In this chapter we see an image of the heart of God, looking down at his people, longing to show them his steadfast love and mercy:
All their kings have fallen,
and none of them calls upon me. — Hosea 7:7b
The pride of Israel testifies to his face;
yet they do not return to the Lord their God,
nor seek him, for all this. — 7:10
Woe to them, for they have strayed from me!
Destruction to them, for they have rebelled against me!
I would redeem them,
but they speak lies against me.
They do not cry to me from the heart,
but they wail upon their beds;
for grain and wine they gash themselves;
they rebel against me. — 7:13-14
Jesus echoed this same lament in the face of the murderous rejection he faced from the leaders of Israel in his day:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” — Luke 13:34
God’s commandments were for their good. By turning their backs on him and forgetting his commandments they forfeited the good and chose instead what was absurd and foolish. Like Smokey the Husky, they became silly and without sense, forgetting that the Lord was the provider of every good blessing they could enjoy; blessings far greater than their pagan neighbors could give.
Hosea is describing the condition not only of the hearts of the ancient Israelites, but the hearts of all mankind who are lost in sin. We chase the world’s offers of security and joy only to find them deceptively hollow and empty. But praise be to God, he did not forget his covenant promises to save a people for himself! And his covenant blessings aren’t merely better than what the world offers—God’s blessings are So Much More than what we could ask for!
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person . . . but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. — Romans 5:6-11
We, like the Israelites, were weak and powerless to save ourselves. But at just the right time Christ died for us: the ungodly, sinners, deserving the wrath of God, his enemies! And now, because he died for us, we who believe have been justified by his blood, shall be saved from his wrath, are reconciled to God by the death of Jesus, shall be saved by his life, and we rejoice in God through Jesus. I love how Paul builds blessing upon blessing in this flood of good news: much more, much more, and more than that! “But wait!” says Paul, “there’s MORE!”
In Christ we have everything we need, and So Much More, for living in this world and for life everlasting. Because in Christ we are at peace with God.
Pray With Me
Father, your steadfast love and mercy are so much more than I can comprehend. When the world calls me to return to my former life, remind me that I am yours. As a child of the King I have no business looking for satisfaction anywhere else but in you. For in your grace and lovingkindness you have given me everything I need in Christ. Give me a willing heart to be gathered under your wings and to delight in your love.