By Benjamin H. Liles
“When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the Lord.’ Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her. Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor as a door of hope. And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.” ~ Hosea 1:2; 2:14-15, New American Standard
There is an old Petra song I love. Let me set the scene for you. It’s early 1996. Petra has taken the stage and people are saying the band’s name, chanting, “Petra” over and over. I know, we’re there for the glory of Jesus Christ, not to exalt the band that has sought to glorify God and to bring Christ to the masses for years. John Schlitt has been the lead singer of the band since 1985 and the band seems to be riding high on success. They launch into their song Right Place during the night.
John sings out, “Got no place to run, gotta look up to see the bottom. No visible support – no one there you can lean on. You’re all on your own – you know it’s sink or swim. There is no doubt about it, you have to look to Him.” So what happens when we take our eyes off God, His Son Jesus Christ, and follow after our own ways, thinking we know better than Him?
Israel knows better by now. At least you’d hope so. From the day Moses went into Egypt to bring Israel out of bondage and slavery even up until now Israel has never once truly been thankful to God for all He’s done on her behalf. God says to Israel, through a prophet, “As you were despised on the day of your birth, no compassion was given; no one cared about you; As for your birth, your cord was never cut, you weren’t cleaned with salt or wrapped in cloth. In fact, this is what the Lord God says to Jerusalem: ‘Your origin and your birth were in the land of the Canaanites. Your father being an Amorite and your mother a Hittite” (Ezekiel 16:3-5).
God has never shown any favoritism to anyone, much less His prized possession Israel. Out of all the nations that descend from Noah and his family, God chose from the family of Shem, from Shem he called out Abraham, from Abraham Isaac, and from Isaac Jacob, and from Jacob Judah. From Judah we get David. A scrawny kid from the backwater town of Bethlehem. You know the place. Dirty, dusty, and a lot like places such as Taylor, even Elkins, and let’s not forget also Bakersville. It’s always the side of the most populous city like Austin, where a kid would have grown up in say Buda.
Even within David’s family he’s the least of all the brothers. He’s the youngest. At best a welp. His brothers see him as a runt, a weakling. But they cowered like dogs when in the service of Saul in the presence of a giant named Goliath. What happened though? God, through David, slew this ugly acting, proud and pompous thing that was no more than dust. Think on that. David. A man that loved God more than anything and he sinned greatly in God’s eyes. Through David and Solomon Israel would soon fade as an empire.
Due to Israel forgetting who her Lord, her God was, and leasing herself out to other nations for support, and Israel is a rich nation in those days, she’s no more than a common whore. Don’t get me wrong I love Israel, but God says things like this: “Then it came about after all your wickedness (‘Woe, woe to you!’ declares the Lord God), that you built yourself a shrine and made yourself a high place in every square. You built yourself a high place at the top of every street and made your beauty abominable, and you spread your legs to every passer-by to multiply your harlotry. You also played the harlot with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, and multiplied your harlotry to make Me angry” (Ezekiel 16:23-26, New American Standard).
As I said, I love Israel. I want to see Israel restored to God in such a way that her people shout in the streets from Nahariyya down to Eilat; from Tel Aviv-Yafo to Arad. I want Israel so blessed by God she yells out loud to her Lord and King, “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9). The problem is that Israel keeps forgetting the God who brought her out by His name, His power from Egypt. When Assyria invaded God decimated. When Babylon raged against Jerusalem, God declared Babylon would end in waste.
And yet over and over in God’s word Israel lets herself out through her false prophets, claiming, “Things will be just fine, God is with us.” No. the prophets always warned thusly: “As the name of your sister Sodom was not heard from your lips in your day of pride, before your wickedness was uncovered, so now you have become the reproach of the daughters of Edom and of all who are around her, of the daughters of the Philistines—those surrounding you who despise you. You have borne the penalty of your lewdness and abominations,” the Lord declares. For thus says the Lord God, “I will also do with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath by breaking the covenant” (Ezekiel 16:56-59).
I have to say even in all that God still loves Israel very much. If you were to read Solomon’s letter, The Song of Songs, you’d get this picture that God adores his bride Israel. He wants her cleansed. He wants her pure and holy, undefiled. What’s it going to take to see your Messiah was there two thousand years ago, shedding his blood on a cross!
Jesus Christ, was the Son of David! He fits the bill of God’s King who comes from David. Don’t take my word for it. Be like the Bereans who studied such matters and became wise in God’s eyes for their zeal for and of the things of God. Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, also descent from the line of David as well (at least that’s what I gather from Matthew and Luke’s account of Jesus’ genealogy). The point is Christ came and healed many of their infirmities. As he told the people many times, “I have come to heal the sick. Those who are well need no doctor. It is the sick and disease ridden I have come to save” (my paraphrase, but he says it all in Mark 2:17).
Think on it this way: we are all Prodigals. In a way the firstborn son (Israel) was a prodigal in the sense he never understood his father’s heart. He always had access to the Father and could receive at any time the Father’s blessing. And then there’s the rest of us, from Gentiles—like myself—to those in Russia and Japan. We are all part of God’s plan of redemption. But we have to get over our broken pride. We have to put off our sin. But before we can even come close to doing so we have to have His light within us saying, “I see I am so filthy I want to go home to my Father, even if it means indentured servitude.” The second son did that and God welcomed him back with open arms, laughing and smiling giving this son, the lost son His best—Jesus Christ.
Friend, I’m going to end this here on this note: we all play the whore in one way or another. Whether our god is money, sex, drugs, alcohol, television, you name it and it can be an idol. The thing is when we realize God is not at the center of our lives can we receive that smallest sliver of hope. Jesus Christ is that hope. He came on our behalf, bearing our punishment which was due to us so we could be restored to God the Father.
God did this so that all we have to do is simply come home. We don’t have to work for His love; He simply does it when we recognize our need is in Him. He desires to hear us in our darkest hour, “You know what, dad, I messed things up. I’m not fit to be your child. Make me…” And in that quiet solitude with Him, He silences us, saying, “You are my child. I was angry, yes. But you came back. I love you and I would give anything, including my Son Jesus Christ to get you to see your sins are forgiven. I just want you to put it off, this sin thing, let me show you My way; a better way.”
Lord Jesus, I come to you now on behalf of my brothers and sister worldwide. I don’t know why it is you choose to let them see You in what You have me speak and live out in my life. I’m the least of all of them. I ask that You, Lord Jesus, love them as only You can. Show them they need You. Show them Your power, Your love, Your grace, and Your mercy. I want the world to know and see You are our God. You are our fortress, our shield, our sure place, our rock and our salvation! I ask this in Your holy and precious name. May your words to Daniel come to be fulfilled. Your kingdom come! Let Your holy sanctuary be built, Your name proclaimed loudly and strong! Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven! I pray this. Amen.