Funny, the places in Scripture that, kind of out of nowhere, overwhelm you. Holy writ accentuated by the Holy Spirit so that it wholly washes over you.
Already primed for thanksgiving this morning, but didn’t expect fuel for the fire to come from Hosea.
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)
“I will heal their apostasy.” Can God really do that? Apparently.
Not sure why, but if we all have that hidden list of sins which we think cross the line (you know, those sins that though we know Jesus died for them, we’re not really sure they can really be overcome), then apostasy probably falls on that list for me.
What more can be done for someone who has turned their back on the faith? Who has tasted and seen the Lord is good, but decides they prefer some other flavor on their lips? Who has walked in the light but then has chosen instead the ways of darkness? When someone who has seen His face turns his back on God, what’s left for God to do?
Such were the ways of Israel. Such were the choices of Ephraim. Such were the reasons for God’s judgment on a people who had been delivered “but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up” (Hos. 13:6), and so, they forgot their Deliverer. They walked away. They chose the paths of the world around them. Not out of ignorance, but willfully. Not because they didn’t know the truth, but because they preferred the lie.
And still, God says, “I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely.”
I’m thinking that’s about the only way you can even consider healing apostasy: you need to be willing (and able) to love them freely. To look on the back they’ve given you and still seek their face. To take the first step towards reconciliation, even as they’ve determined to step away.
Isn’t that the love of God? Isn’t that the love that was transformed from mere concept to life-altering action through the coming of the Son? Isn’t that the love “that surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:18-19)? The love that, without divine assistance, we could never comprehend it’s breadth, length, height, and depth?
Isn’t that the love that overwhelms with thanksgiving? I’m thinkin . . .
But wait! There’s more!
Not only does such love heal, but it’s like dew that brings life and beauty from death and destruction. Love that comes down so that those healed by it dwell beneath the shadow of its glory and flourish. Not just escape wrath that was due. Not just survive to eke out whatever life can be salvaged. But healed so that they might flourish.
More than just being snatched from the grip of apostasy and its penalty (praise God for eternity if that was but the sum of salvation), but also blessed with “every spiritual blessing in heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3). So much so, that those who were once apostate can thrive. A barren twig becoming a blossoming vine that bears fruit worthy of producing the finest wine. And this, from the sin which I’ve been inclined to think of as the sin that crosses the line.
Our God is the great healer. Jehovah Rapha (Ex. 15:26).
He heals our diseases. ALL our diseases (Ps. 103:3). Even apostasy!
How powerful is the finished work of the cross! Pretty powerful!
Give thanks to the God who loves freely.
Give praise to the God who heals even that which we might consider unhealable.
Bow in awe at the foot of the cross and consider afresh its power to save.
Because of grace. For His glory.