Friday 09 July 2010

Bible Book:

"I will heal their disloyalty; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them." (v.4)

Hosea 14:1-9 Friday 9 July 2010


After Haiti's devastating earthquake, an evangelist from theAmericas suggested that it was the people's practice of voodoo thatcaused the earthquake to happen. God, it was claimed, was punishingHaitians for cavorting with the devil.

Much can be said to counter this ill-informed understanding. Notleast is that it runs counter to what we have learned about Godthrough Jesus Christ for the past 2,000 years. You can hardly movein Haiti without seeing a church and even when you are being movedfrom one place to another you are likely to be transported invehicles richly decorated with religious icons. Haitians arefaithful people and if the example of Jesus is worth going by thenas the poorest in the western hemisphere, Jesus is most likely tobe found amongst them rather than the wealthy neighbour. The God ofjustice is a god that finds easy company and welcome with thepoor.

In today's passage God's people are offered abundance, good food,wine, water, shelter and beauty. Brazilians have a saying whichuses imagery from the Bible. When things are going well there issaid to be "shade and fresh water". This is what is promised toGod's people not in return for repentance, but because it is thenature of God to love freely. In this context the splendour andpower of the rich becomes meaningless and the poor can thriveequally. John Wesley (one of the founders of Methodism) said in oneof his letters, "Beware you be not swallowed up in books! An ounceof love is worth a pound of knowledge."

When I was in Haiti recently, alongside some horrific sights ofdestruction, I saw some remarkable examples of love.

It was the hard and painful experience of his broken family thatled Hosea to so confidently and with so much assurance declarethese closing words as those of God. The final chapter of the bookof Hosea calls for God's people to return to the Lord. In thesewords we discover that love is truly divine. Through Hosea we hearGod pleading to God's people to 'return to me'.

To Ponder

If Hosea came to you and told you the story ofhis wife and wayward children, what might you counsel him todo?

God wills that God's people should be saved. Butwhich people? All people?

Think of the people you love and thank God forthem. Then think of the people you don't love. How might your lifeand theirs be transformed if you did love them?

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