God has poured out his kindness upon us. Every child of God needs to wade into the depths of God’s deep love for us. God had done so much for Israel, but their response is cold. Israel barely has their toe in the water of God’s love, but they need to dive in. Instead, they ignore his kindness and take God’s love for granted. Listen to Yahweh’s broken heart:
What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away.Hosea 6:4
God has been so kind to Israel but has received a very tepid response. “What shall I do with you?” obviously is a cry of frustrated love, borne of their refusal to “return” to God and pursue the knowledge of him. It’s like Paul’s exasperation to those at Rome:
Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?Romans 2:4, NLT
God wants to bless us, but he cannot until we return to him. Here, for the first time, we see Yahweh taking on role of the wounded husband whose love has been rejected after he has given all his love to his wayward spouse. This is the constant cry of God in the Scriptures:
All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people.Isaiah 65:2, NLT
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.Matthew 23:37, NLT
Ephraim (the northern kingdom) and Judah (the southern kingdom) are both named. At one time they were united and were inhabited by the Lord of hosts, filled with his love. Now their love was cold. They had a form of love (Heb, hesed) to God, but it was fleeting, like clouds and dew. Like the morning fog, it vanished quickly. Like the dew on a sunny day, it disappeared suddenly. It’s like the old hymns says:
Tell me the story often, for I forget so soon,
The “early dew” of morning has passed away at noon.Tell Me the Old, Old Story (Hymn)
There is an unsteadiness in Israel’s return to God. Their love is half-hearted and lukewarm. God wants us to return to him with all our heart (5:15). Their love is here one moment and gone the next. Yet, God still wants to bless. He waits for us knocking at the door of our heart (Rev 3:20). God has done all for us to return to him. “What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it?” (Isa 5:4).
The Means of Grace
As long as we have half-hearted love for God, we really have no love at all. God looks at you this moment and calls you by name. He says, “What shall I do with you?” I’ve given you so much. Consider all the gifts and privileges God gave to Israel: He delivered them from slavery in Egypt. He gave them his visible presence in the glory cloud. He fought for them against their enemies. He gave them the Promised Land. Most importantly, he promised to them the Savior of the world, his Son Jesus the Messiah. In spite of all this, their love barely registers. Their hearts were cold to him. So little gratitude. They are blind to all God’s good gifts to them. Are we any different than Israel?
Think of all the beautiful gifts God has given you, yet you continue in your habits of sin. You excuse your anger. You justify your lust. You rationalize your worldliness. Your love for God lasts until the next time you need your idol. God has “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:3). You lack nothing for holiness and growth in grace, yet are you growing? You have all the resources of God’s grace poured out to you. Is your love for God strong? Look at God’s kindness. These gifts should lead you to love and commit to God with a strong, unrelenting, persevering love. All God’s gifts to you are meant to awaken you to his unconditional and infinite love. Think of all the gifts you already have.
The gift of his Holy Spirit, convicting and comforting you. God is ready to fellowship with you right now. Jesus is knocking at the door, eager for you to experience his love and kindness. As you yield more and more to the Spirit, giving yourself to God as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1-2), your heart will be strong with love for God.
The gift of his Word to you. As you meditate and chew on and savor God’s Word slowly (Psa 1:2-3), your heart will grow bigger and bigger as you see his love on every page.
The gift of forgiveness in Christ. Full pardon is yours. There is no condemnation for all who come to Jesus (Rom 8:1). As you consider that you are robed in Christ’s perfect righteousness and have his stainless record, no one can accuse you of any sin or bring any charge against God’s elect. “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies” (Rom 8:33).
The gift of Jesus praying for you. He lives every day to make intercession for you (Heb 7:25).
The gift of fellowship and support from God’s people. “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Eph 4:16, NLT).
The gift of prayer. God is ready to hear you right now. It is by calling on the name of the Lord that we are saved (Rom 10:13), and it is by continuing unwaveringly in prayers that Christians grow in Christ (Acts 2:42).
The gift of worship. God “inhabits the praises” of his people. He makes us aware that his home is in our heart as we praise him. “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh 8:10). As you lift up your heart to give God glory and praise in private and in public with other Christians, your heart will grow with love.
His gift of everything! “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (Jas 1:17).
What amazing channels of God’s grace and kindness to Israel and to us. Yet their heart remained cold to him. May it not be dear saint. Respond to God! “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 Jn 3:1).
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