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Lenten Devotion 4 February 29, 2020

Hosea 14:1-9
1 Return, Israel, to the LORD your God. Your sins have been your downfall! 2 Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips. 3 Assyria cannot save us; we will not mount warhorses. We will never again say ‘Our gods’ to what our own hands have made, for in you the fatherless find compassion.” 4 “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them. 5 I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots; 6 his young shoots will grow. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon. 7 People will dwell again in his shade; they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like the vine— Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon. 8 Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? I will answer him and care for him. I am like a flourishing juniper; your fruitfulness comes from me.” 9 Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.
Many of the minor prophets tell stories that remind me of the story in Luke about the prodigal son. Throughout Hosea we see people continue to make the wrong choices. They chose other things before God. They do whatever they want in life, and do not take care of those in need. Their lives are completely focused on themselves, until the day of reckoning. The day that they must answer for their injustices. Much like the prodigal son who asked for his inheritance and ran off to live a life of excess. Until the money ran out and he had nothing left. He had no choice but to return home and beg his father for forgiveness.

While these stories are similar, it is the ending of the stories that really reflect. Mostly, because the endings do not match the stories. In fact, some scholars do not believe Hosea 14 is part of the original text because it is so out of place. That is because Hosea 14 speaks of hope and grace, not rightful punishment. In the prodigal son the father runs to hug the son, not yell at him.

It is true the Hosea 14 is out of place, but that is because God’s grace always seems out of place to us. Where we see judgement, God see’s love. Where we see pain, God see’s hope. Theologian Charles Spurgeon says it best when he said “how can so beautiful a flower or sweet a fruit come from a prickly bush. Where sin abounds, grace will abound more.” Despite your sin, God has a plan for you. Despite falling short, God will pour grace upon you! Amen.

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