Reconciliation and Restoration

“I will heal their backsliding,

I will love them freely,

for My anger has turned away from him”
Hosea 14:4

These words were very precious to me when a man I had never met shared them with me many years ago. I had been away from the Lord but the Lord had brought me back. In a way it was a picture of God’s love for Israel. In the book of Hosea we read of God’s severe chastisement of Israel and we might wonder how a God of love could inflict such severe pain. However, it is a reflection not only of God’s anger against sin and love for the sinner but also of the hardness of the human heart apart from Christ. I don’t believe God will chastise more than necessary. That people still do not respond reveals the hardness of their heart.

So often in the prophetic books of the Bible we read this same pattern; God’s severity on Israel for turning away from Him and His gentle love for them when they return. In all of the prophecies concerning Israel’s return there is certainty that the day will come. When God says, “I will,” He means He will perform it. If He can’t then He is not the God of creation.

There is no comfort in these words for unbelieving Israel but there is enormous encouragement to believing Israel, the “remnant”. God is still on track and on time in fulfilling His Covenant promises to Israel.

Likewise there is no comfort in these words for unbelieving Gentiles but to those who have trusted Jesus Christ there is great encouragement in our walk with Him. These words from the Lord to Israel reveal the love and compassion that God has for His people when they walk with Him. For a Christian who has strayed these words show the welcoming arms of God when they return.

In 14:1 & 2 God invites the one who has strayed to return to Him. In verses 2 & 3 we see the evidence of repentance and in verse four is God’s response. Reconciliation is complete.

Another verse that was shared with me by the same person at the same time follows on from this scenario and is recorded in Joel 2:25, “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.” While this verse is written to Israel and has application upon their reconciliation it reveals the heart of God toward Christians who return to the Lord after straying. We may have wasted years in going our own way but God is able to turn that to His and our benefit.

God forbid that we should ever stray from walking with the Lord but if we do, or have, the revelation from these verses and many others is that He is waiting with loving arms for our return and repentance to reconcile us to Himself and reinstate us in fellowship. To read Jesus’ words on the subject read Luke 15:11-32.

“Come Back!”

“Return to the Lord your God for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm” Joel 2:13

It seems to be more common these days that I hear people, both face-to-face and in the media, claiming to speak with authority regarding the Bible. Quite often they imply that they are quoting the Bible and yet the words they speak I am yet to discover in the Bible. In fact, I know that they are not in it or that the “quote” is distorted so much as to say the opposite to the meaning intended.

I heard a man claim that God could not be a God of love because his child died of a terrible illness. He was angry and bitter at God. He did not make the connection that God’s Son died in his place and for his sin. The Father knows his grief and could have comforted him in his grief.

The reason for much error is ignorance of what the Bible actually says. One person says something that he thinks is in the Bible, another quotes him to others saying that it is in the Bible and before we know it the God of the Bible is being much maligned. This is just one of many scenarios that reveal the critical importance that Christians know their Bibles and are able to correct such abuses.

When driving on highways we see signs that tell us the distance to the next few exits. On most occasions we will only remember the one relevant to us at the time. It may be that we do the same when reading the Bible. We may miss parts that are not significant to us at the time.

In the passage from Joel, cited above, the Lord is calling for His people to return to Him. If they do they will find Him gracious, merciful, patient and kind. Most of all they will find forgiveness and the Lord will have a change of heart regarding the judgment hanging over their heads. The people of Nineveh found this out in living practice when they responded to the word of the Lord spoken by the prophet Jonah.

It is very disappointing whenever I hear someone misquote the Bible regarding the Divine Nature. It is even more disappointing when it comes from Christians. My wife and I were away from the Lord for about eleven years until the Lord restored us. Two verses were shared with us at that time, Hosea 14:4 and Hosea 2:25. Even though both are written with regard to Israel, God’s nature does not change. We have found them both to be true to us personally. The Lord has healed our backsliding, He has continuously poured out His love on us, He has forgiven us and restored the lost years. Joel 2:13 has also been demonstrated to be true because God is faithful to His word.