Thursday, February 16, 2012

Faithfulness with the faithful

Ephraim has surrounded me with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit, but Judah still walks with God and is faithful to the Holy One.
Hosea 11:12

A remnant remained faithful to God in Judah. The Lord noticed this and made the observation on those faithful to Him. It increases the contrasts at this stage in Hosea's prophecies. God pronounces judgment on the Northern kingdom of Israel. His pronouncements of judgment are tempered with hopes of mercy. He loves His people. He does not want to punish them. He even declares in advance that mercy will come after His wrath to rescue a remnant so that He may show His faithful love even to unfaithful Israel.

Even though Samaria was destroyed by the Assyrians and the Northern tribes were taken away, a remnant was allowed to remain in Israel. They were powerless and few, and they struggled. The Assyrians, as well as other gentile nations, quickly moved into the conquered territory and the ethnic identity of the Hebrews who remained was eroded by mixing with these peoples. Still, the Lord kept His promises and even in Israel a remnant was saved. They may have lied and deceived the Lord, but He was always faithful and true before and after their judgment.

The Lord also notices those who are faithful to Him despite the actions of others around them. His comments about Judah are an assessment He made based on the actions of just a few kings like Josiah and Hezekiah, who were reformers who were faithful to Him. Judah too had tendencies toward sick idolatry. But God was gracious for the sake of those few who did remain faithful. Of course, the day would come when that limited faithfulness by the few would fail, and God would send Babylon in to take away Judean captives into exile. It is encouraging though to know that God is faithful even in administering His discipline. He is faithful so that we may remain faithful.

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