Monday, February 20, 2012

love, justice, and waiting on God

"So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God."
Hosea 12:6

God appeals to some of the oldest facets of His covenant with His people in this call to repentance. He appeals to the details of the Abrahamic covenant, specifically as it was repeated in the life of Jacob. This unilateral covenant hinged on God's promise to make of Abraham a great nation. And it was Abraham's grandson, Jacob, who first saw the inkling of God's promise to him. God blessed Jacob with twelve sons... the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel.

When God talked about Jacob (whom God later renamed Israel) He talked to all twelve tribes of Israel. The two kingdoms could not bicker over their differences when centering their thoughts around their shared history in the life of Jacob. They had this common forefather. And this made the call to repentance that followed all the more relevant to the generation that Hosea addressed.

What God reveals about repentance is that He helps sinners return to Him. The call is to accept God's help and to return to close relationship with Him. Two actions result from this kind of repentance. First, repentant Israel would hold fast to the experiences of love and justice as they obeyed God as revealed in His written word. The purpose of the Law was to change hearts so that they demonstrated God's love and justice in the world. The second result does not sound exciting, but it is a crucial step of spiritual growth for all God's people: waiting on the Lord.

Those three ideas (love, justice, and waiting on God) are key elements of Christian living as well. We must love God and love other people. We don't get to make that choice by personal preference, but rather we are commanded to let Christ's love lead us to love all people. We should be moved to see God's justice lead in the way we treat others. Sinful consequences of injustice should make us grieve over sin and compel us to make a difference. Righteous living should lead us to treat others justly. And waiting on the Lord means that sometimes to see justice done we must wait patiently in faith for God's timing and for His sovereign providence to work all things out for His glory and our good as we love Him.

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