Summary: Is forgiveness simply Gods job, his duty, his obligation. Can we do what we want and live as we please and rightfully expect God to forgive us – because that’s what he is supposed to do. Or is there more to it than that.
I love what Spurgeon writes about this final Chapter in Hosea – He says, ‘Throughout the book of Hosea there has been thunder: sometimes a low rumbling, as of a distant tempest, sometimes peal on peal, as of a storm immediately overhead. And now the tempest has gathered all its force. Here it culminates. You expect the bolt of heaven to destroy. But instead there is a silver shower of mercy! God does not say, "O Israel, depart accursed!" But instead, in dulcet tones he cries, "O Israel, return to the Lord your God." In the midst of wrath he remembers mercy.
You remember that last week we looked at the punishment that was heading Israel’s way, about how they were to be scattered and taken back into exile. But now the language changes and forgiveness is on it’s way. After all the pronouncements of judgement against Israel, Hosea concludes with a message of hope and blessing. This became the vision of Israel. It is also the hope of all humanity, fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Read Hosea 14
Verse 2 ‘Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously’.
Oops – wrong leg!
In February 1995 a man called William King joked with the nursing staff at the University Community Hospital in Tampa, Florida, as they wheeled him down to theatre, and he was joking about whether or not they knew which of his legs was being amputated. The 51 year old had been suffering from a diabetes related disease, which meant he had to have his right leg amputated just below the knee.
Tragically, the surgeon made a terrible mistake and when Mr King woke up from the anaesthetic he found that he still had his gangrenous right foot, but his healthy one was gone. Eventually he had the diseased leg amputated as well. And the hospital paid him $900,000 dollars in compensation, and the surgeon agreed to pay him a further $250,000.
The newspaper report claims that the hospital has now introduced a policy of writing with a thick black marker the word ‘NO’ on patients limbs which are not being amputated.
But it was quite a mistake to make. What’s the biggest mistake you have ever made in your life? We all make mistakes and when we do we have to live with the consequences. If that had been you, do you think that you would have been able to forgive that surgeon? Is there anyone who has wronged you, who has done something against you, who has done something to offend or hurt you, that you still need to forgive? What will it take for that to happen – for you to forgive what they have done?
David Hamilton was a loyalist terrorist who became a Christian while he was serving an 11 year prison sentence in Northern Ireland. Shortly after his conversion he discovered that his wife was living with another man. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he then found out that during an argument this man had hit his 3 year old son in the face, breaking his nose and leaving him with a stutter.
Now that obviously put his new found faith under a little bit of pressure and he swore to God that if that man ever ended up in jail with him – he would give up being a Christian and kill him. Three years later the opportunity came. One day he was getting some hot water for a cup of tea when he saw the man in a cell across the landing – and David knew his chance would come. A few days later he was cutting the grass when he saw the man walking toward him, accompanied by a prison guard. ‘Punched any babies lately’ he asked, ‘it was an accident’, said the man. ‘I don’t believe you’, he said, ‘I’m going to kill you’.
An inmate who was gardening with David couldn’t believe what he had heard. ‘You’re a Christian, and you just said you’re going to kill that man’! ‘You don’t know what he did to my baby boy’ said David.
Over the next few weeks David watched and waited for the right time to make his move. He psyched himself up and organised a plan to distract the guards in the prison yard. And then the time finally came for him to put his plan into action.
He was pacing up and down in his cell, waiting for the door to be opened, when God spoke to him clearly, ‘David, forgive him’. ‘I’ll forgive him after I’ve killed him’ David thought and kept on pacing up and down. But the words came again, ‘David, forgive him’. So this time he thought, ‘Ok, I won’t kill him, but I’m going to beat him up badly. It’s only right. It’s what he deserves’. But all he could hear echoing inside his head were the words, ‘David, forgive him’.