Summary: The unbroken love of God despite all that we do to break his heart
God must be crazy!
Part 2 of a series of 3)
I am sure that that you all have something in your life with which you have a love-hate relationship. I am told that Ainsley Harriott has a love hate relationship with his oven. For many of us it is computers. (PAUSE) We are amazed at what they can do, but frustrated when they do not work. Some of my friends have teenage children, and there is a strong sense of a love-hate relationship between parents and children at that time in their lives. We try to react calmly, logically and reasonably. As parents we love our children intensely, but there are times when we could cheerfully throttle them. There are times when they drive us to distraction. There are times when they drive us to tears.
Last week we looked at the desperate situation that God was facing in his relationship with his children, the nation of Israel. And we looked at the corruption of the nation, its worship, and its life. We thought about the frustration of God as he tried to get through to his people, which ultimately resulted in him sending his prophet Hosea to live out a shocking visual aid.
This week I want to think about the emotions that were going on in God’s heart in this situation. And perhaps the most appropriate way of getting the ball rolling as we think about it is to use this analogy of a love-hate relationship. I think it’s a good description of the kind of desperation that God must have felt. I think it’s a good description of the kind of turmoil that must have been going on in God’s heart.
One of the outstanding features of this book is its sudden changes of tone from the sternest of threats to the warmest of resolves. It’s just how you feel in a love-hate relationship, and I think this shows just how much turmoil was going on in God’s heart in the face of the unfaithfulness of his people.
The choices of God
God is sovereign – he can do what he wishes. He is not constrained. We have a tendency today to think of God solely in terms of his love, with the imagery of a kindly grandfather who dotes on his grandchildren, regardless of how dreadfully they behave.
But God had choices as to how he acted in relation to the unfaithfulness of his people. Just as parents have a choice of how they act in relation to their teenagers behaviour, so God had and has the ability and choice of acting and reacting in a variety of ways.
The choice of separation
One of the ways we can react in a situation of a strained relationship is by shutting our selves off from the person with whom we are having difficulty. We ‘send them to Coventry’. We take steps to avoid them. We move away. We become separated. In a sense, it may be a way of avoiding the issues, but we separate ourselves from them and try to forget them.
And there is an element of this in Gods response to his peoples corruption. We see that God had a choice of separation from his people.
God had the choice of withdrawing from his people. Ch 5:6 ‘they will not find (God); he has withdrawn from them’. God has the choice of separating himself from his people. The idea is repeated in similar ways elsewhere in the book. In Ch 9:12, God talks about departing from his people. God has a choice of separation from his people.
God had the choice of not caring for his people. In the reading we had last week, you will remember that in Ch1:6,8, God names Hoseas children ‘Not pitied’, and ‘Not my people’. To be not Gods people is the ultimate statement of separation. To be not pitied is to be without the compassion of God. To be without compassion is to say that the relationship is empty. Compassion is not a state of mind, but about action. So this talks about the abandonment of the relationship.
God had the choice of forgetting his people. 4.6 ‘since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children’. In this situation, forgetting is an active thing. It isn’t the absent mindedness that I suffer from. But it is a deliberate separating out from your mind of things you don’t want to remember.
God had a choice of separation from his people.
The choice of vengeance
Another of the ways in which we react to strained relationships is in anger and seeking vengeance. You will have all heard of the classic situation in a marriage break up, where the woman gives away all the precious contents of his wine cellar. And worse!