By Steve Wickham
Those who are wise understand these things;
those who are discerning know them.
For the ways of the LORD are right,
and the upright walk in them,
but transgressors stumble in them.
~Hosea 14:9 (NRSV).
Faithfulness is the byword of Hosea – a man who saw his wife run off from him just like we’re apt at running from the LORD.
Chapter 14 of Hosea – its conclusion – is all about two things; one a cause and the other an effect from the cause. The prophet calls the people to repent (the cause) so they may achieve the assurance of God’s forgiveness (the effect) and consequent blessing.
A ‘Required’ Pattern for Life
Whilst we won’t often naturally think in these sorts of terms, the boldest truth of the gospel message recognises one main thing. We’re apart from God via our living circumstance in this world. We may be believers and we might be saved, but we haven’t yet received the ultimate healing.
Repentance, therefore, is what we need to do to experience true life, or more appropriately a heart-of-repentance is what we need to have.
There is a sharp and dividing difference between the forgiveness we receive at salvation and the forgiveness we receive that ministers to our souls as we venture in and about through this world. This is discussing the latter, for ‘life’ – which is the abundantly happy spiritual life – is what stands after such ‘in our moments’ forgiveness. Such forgiveness is not a given; it must come with a reliably and consistently penitent heart. How easy do we find it to say a genuine, instinctive and heartfelt “sorry”?
An Input to Life – An Input for Death
A most basic choice that God gives everyone – every instant we’re alive – is this one.
We take the path of our choosing. To go the way of morality, which is honesty and integrity and purity – as far as these are possible for us – is the right path of God. Otherwise is the other path; a path that leads to death, and many take it. Indeed, we have many occasions when we do choose momentary death through a lack of momentary discernment or wisdom, and this through act or omission, intention or lapse.
It boils down to faithfulness – not to a wife or husband, but to the LORD. We live rightly and when we don’t we take our contrition and make the appropriate reparation.
After quite a lengthy book for a Minor Prophet it simply comes down to this: will we be faithful in our moments or unfaithful?
Will we choose to be blessed or cursed? God doesn’t bring these consequences to us in as much as we do. Choose life. Hosea’s message: listen, learn and benefit.