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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, March 26, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Hosea 13:14–14:9

Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your destruction? Compassion is hidden from my eyes. Although he may flourish among rushes, the east wind shall come, a blast from the Lord, rising from the wilderness; and his fountain shall dry up, his spring shall be parched. It shall strip his treasury of every precious thing. Samaria shall bear her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword, their little ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open.

Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take words with you and return to the Lord; say to him, “Take away all guilt; accept that which is good, and we will offer the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses; we will say no more, ‘Our God,’ to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy.”

I will heal their disloyalty; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily, he shall strike root like the forests of Lebanon. His shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive tree, and his fragrance like that of Lebanon. They shall again live beneath my shadow, they shall flourish as a garden; they shall blossom like the vine, their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress; your faithfulness comes from me. Those who are wise understand these things; those who are discerning know them. For the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them. (NRSV)

The book of Hosea ends with a question: “Who is wise?” Hosea presents a reminder that life is filled with complex circumstances that require both wisdom and discernment.

Hosea found himself in a complicated situation. God asked Hosea to marry the prostitute Gomer. Hosea marries Gomer who bares children, but is unfaithful and leaves her husband. God then asks Hosea to reconcile with Gomer. What a complicated set of circumstances, leaving Hosea with a dilemma to chose between obedience or rebellion.

Life choices are not always easy, especially when circumstances are less than desirable. In challenging predicaments, wisdom may not be enough. Hosea presents another question: “Who is discerning?” The discerning contemplates truth and turns knowledge into a best practice. The wise and discerning have what is needed for the best choice. This suggests to me that if you are searching for answers or direction, ask God for both wisdom and understanding. Don’t fret when life conditions appear unreasonable. Ask God for wisdom and understanding through challenging times. God always has a purpose even if it is not readily known.

God is showing us through Hosea that mercy is available regardless of past behaviors. There is nothing you can do to change God’s desire for an eternal relationship with you.

Hosea concludes by offering the reader two life alternatives, walking or stumbling; obedience or rebellion. “The Ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them but the rebellious stumble in them.” Those who follow the ways of God are both wise and prudent. God waits for us to ask for wisdom and understanding. Have you asked?

Loving God, source of wisdom and understanding, we are grateful that you make wisdom available when we ask. Please give us good judgment for every situation, and the courage to be obedient during times of discomfort and pain. Amen.

Written by Robert Crouch, Director of Volunteer Ministry

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