God's Incredible Long-suffering

Hosea 11:7-9 (NASB)
"So My people are bent on turning from Me. Though they call them to the One on high, none at all exalts Him. How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned over within Me, all My compassion is kindled. I will not execute My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again. For I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath."

The prophet Hosea wrote this at a time when God's people were in the midst of apostasy. They had turned away from the path He wanted them to go. They turned away from worshipping God to worshipping other gods. They turned away from justice to embrace injustice. They turned away from dependence on God to dependence on themselves and foreign alliances.

Israel had become like an unfaithful spouse. Instead remaining true to the vows made to God at Sinai many centuries before, Israel played the adulteress, chasing after other lovers rather than returning to her first and true love.

But God, though greatly displeased at Israel's infidelity to Him, showed His gracious long-suffering, His patience, by holding out His hand to Israel in reconciliation. God refused to give up on His love for His people, even in though they had rejected Him. He had no desire to destroy them from the face of the earth like He did the people of Sodom, Gommorah, Admah, and Zeboiim (Deuteronomy 29:22). Israel was God's wife, and as His wife He desired more than anything else for her to return to Him with her whole heart. He did not wish to unleash His anger on her, because He loved her so much.

When we decided to become followers of Christ at some point in our lives, we in a sense became married to Him by joining His Church. Sometimes we drift away from God's plan for our lives. We turn to other gods by putting other things in our lives before God, such as material possessions, the pursuit of amusements, friends or family, etc. Sometimes we drift away from a close relationship with God by depending on ourselves rather than depending on Him for our needs and concerns.

But God is not like fallible, often vengeful, human beings who have been betrayed by a loved one. His mercy and long-suffering far surpasses that of sinful human beings. If one turns away from God in one way or another, one should not feel that there is no hope if that person seeks to return to God. He ever holds His hands out to take us back, to heal our waywardness, and to put us back on the right track. The path that leads to reconciliation. The one that leads to abundant life and salvation for our souls.

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