Wednesday, February 1, 2012

judgment & mercy

Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, "You are not my people," it shall be said to them, "Children of the living God."
Hosea 1:10

When God enacts the curses of the covenant against the unfaithfulness of His people, He does so with a balance of judgment and mercy. The language here invokes the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant against the dark prospects of judgment impending from the failure to keep the Mosaic Covenant. Even as God warns Israel and Judah through the ministry of His prophet Hosea, He also confirms that a deep covenantal commitment underlies even His acts of judgment. God would not forget His covenant with Abraham.

What is interesting here is that really two covenants are in discussion. The immediate judgment would come as a result of Israel's disobedience to the covenant the nation made with God at Sinai. They had failed at every level to obey and keep the statutes of the Law. The foundational call to worship on the LORD their God was the key command broken. God's people were wantonly unfaithful to Him, following after idolatry with a passion. This was why judgment was coming.

But that judgment would be tempered with mercy. God had not forgotten an earlier covenant with Abraham. And because God would be true to His Word, the children of Abraham would endure past judgment to again fill the Promised Land. That is why God would work to restore a people that He had judged. He would not abandon His Word given to Abraham.

I see here a vivid reminder of the faithfulness of God. Yes, He is faithful to His people. But human beings are not the basis of His faithfulness. Because God is holy and true, He is faithful and consistent to Himself. He has to be. There is nothing else holy and true. Ultimately, the covenant with Abraham required a self-consistency for the glory of God. It led Him to brink back the Jews from captivity and to reinstate blessing so that Abraham's offspring could again enjoy covenant blessings as "children of the Living God". I am thankful that God is always true and faithful, even when I fail Him. In His mercy and love, He will always be true to Himself. And that is where His grace extends to me. It isn't about me. It is all about God. I need to keep that in front of me!

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