Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross
The story of Hosea is a microcosm of the human experience. In chapter eleven, God appeals to the people to understand how much He loved His people. God loved Israel, but the people loved the Baals (1-2). God healed them, but they did not know that He did (3). He held them with cords of love (4), but they preferred the bonds of Assyria with their swords and their fires (4-7). One way God depicts this is by saying, essentially, I bent down to feed them, but His people were bent on turning from Him (4,7).
Have you ever reached down to feed your child only to have that child bend away in disgust and disapproval? Especially is this true when the food is good for them but does not taste good to them. Hopefully, in the process of training and development, they get over this tendency. Yet, God paints the picture of His children doing the same thing as they reject their Almighty Creator for a world that hates them.
When Hosea says God “bent” down, he uses a word found over 200 times in the Old Testament. Often, when referring to God’s outstretched hand, the writers are referring to it being extended in judgment against man (especially in Isaiah where we see the repeated phrase, “His hand is still stretched out,” several times in chapters 9 and 10). But that mighty hand is gently reaching down to care for, love, and hold His wayward people. But what do they do when He bends down? With rigid posture, they stubbornly turn away. They call Him “God Most High” but they do not honor Him with submission and obedience.
But then I consider my circumstance. Through Christ, God made the ultimate gesture of reaching down. Jesus allowed Himself to be lifted up on the cross, but this was God extending Himself and His love to me (Rom. 5:8; Gal. 2:20). In my daily life, what do I do with His outstretched hand. Am I ever determined to turn away from Him by my rebellion and self-will? I need to see how utterly foolish and self-defeating that is, and I need to see it for what it is. I am rejecting the love, the help, and the grace of the Omnipotent One who longs to be in a relationship with me. What do I hope to get anywhere else that can even compare to that? Thank God that His Word draws me back and reminds me of what He’s done for me and what He wants to do for me! May I be wise and humble enough to reach up when He reaches down!