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.

The Great Exchange

“And he [Abram] believed in the Lord, and He [God] accounted it to him for righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)

The saying goes, “If it seems too good to be true then it probably is.” That Abram had his sin exchanged for righteousness, and that we may have the same, seems too good to be true yet in the grace and power of God we see that it is indeed true – but at a price.

In chapter three we read that Adam chose to believe Satan’s lie and in believing the lie he called God a liar. Even in our fallen world calling someone a liar is not going to enhance the relationship. Adam’s intimacy with God died at that moment and as outward evidence he began dying bodily. Essentially, at its root, sin is calling God a liar and believing something that is untrue as if true. This denies the holy nature of God and is a lie.

In His Word God has revealed that if the relationship with God is going to be restored two things must take place. Firstly, a person must choose to believe God’s revelation and reject the lie. This is the opposite of what Adam did in the Garden.

Secondly, the sin nature produced in Adam, and born in each and all of us, must die, for that is God’s righteous judgment on sin (Genesis 2:17). God shed the blood of at least one animal so as to clothe Adam and Eve in its skin (Genesis 3:21). The death of this animal could not replace Adam’s death because it was an animal and not a man but it was a picture of the One to come who would be both man and God who would be able to bear God’s righteous wrath on sin in the place of man.

Abram had already given evidence of believing God when he left his home and trusted the Lord to lead him to a new home and give him a family (Genesis 12:1-3). God had affirmed the land aspect to Abram (Genesis 12:7; 13:14) and now affirms that he would have a multitude of descendants (Genesis 15:5).

Though it all sounded too good to be true Abram chose to continue believing what God had said. God went on to “sign” the covenant in such a way as to show that its fulfilment was solely God’s responsibility. But it would require the death of Abram’s Seed. Not Isaac but Jesus would die for the sin of the World. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Jesus is the Lamb pictured in the Garden of Eden when the animal(s) was slain to provide a covering for Adam and Eve. They only provided a temporary covering but Jesus took sin away.

When we do not believe God we call Him a liar. When we chose to turn from not believing Him and do believe Him He will credit us with His righteousness. He is justified in doing so because Jesus died for our sins and rose again giving all who believe new life.

This may sound too good to be true on our part but it came with an immeasurable price to God.

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides [remains] on him” (John 3:36).