Cords of Kindness and Bands of Love

I’ve been reading Hosea and finding it convicting and comforting.  Hosea confronts Israel with their unfaithfulness and rebellion and reminds them of God’s steadfast love and mercy in their lives, but warns they will suffer unless they return to God, because He is also righteous and just.

You have plowed iniquity;
       you have reaped injustice;
       you have eaten the fruit of lies.
Because you have trusted in your own
        way and in the multitude of your
therefore the tumult of war shall arise
        among your people,
        and all your fortresses shall
        be destroyed.  Hosea 10:13-14a
Earlier in the same chapter Israel is compared to a fruitful vine.
     Israel is a luxuriant vine
        that yields its fruit.
    The more his fruit increased,
        the more altars he built;
    as his country improved,
         he improved his pillars.
    Their heart is false;
         now they must bear their guilt.
    The Lord will break down their altars
        and destroy their pillars. v.1-2
Doesn’t this sound like our country, and like us as individuals?  We erect altars where we worship, be they humanism, individualism, education, materialism, science, a particular life-style, or a desire (even a good one).  We often pervert a good by designating it a necessity , and we disorder God’s revealed priorities.
For several days now I’ve read about the ways Israel has transgressed, and the punishment that will ensue.  So what I read today was a gentle reminder that encouraged me.  In my Bible, chapter 11 is titled “The Lord’s Love for Israel.”
Hosea 11:1-4
    When Israel was a child, I loved him,
      and out of Egypt I called my son.
    The more they were called,
       the more they went away;
    they kept sacrificing to the Baals
       and burning offerings to idols.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
    I took them up by their arms,
    but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of kindness,
    with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases
    the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them.
Isn’t this a beautiful picture of the patience, mercy and love of God to his children who have turned their back on him and are actively pursing other gods!  There will come a time, however, when we each will be judged by God’s righteousness and justice, but in the meantime he cares for us and woos us, and if we are in Christ we will be clothed in His righteousness.
When time is no more I expect to have eyes that see the ways God taught me to walk, carried me, fed me, healed me and led me with cords of kindness and bands of love.  For now I trust Him to do just that and will therefore work at giving thanks “in all things.”

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