God simply doesn’t behave like us. Listen to His further message of hope and reconciliation for the wayward nation of of Israel. “In that day I will respond,” declares the LORD— “I will respond to the skies, and they will respond to the earth; and the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine and oil, and they will respond to Jezreel. I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”Hosea 2:21-23
Israel certainly didn’t deserve it, but God fully intended to pour out blessing on His people once again. The Canaanite Baal cult (the religious system Israel had entangled itself in) believed Baal was the one who “responded” to their calls for rain, for sun, and for ongoing fertility. They believed that each winter Baal would descend and disappear into the netherworld domain of the god Mot where he would fall deaf to their needs for life. In order to bring Baal back from the realm of Mot and respond to Israel’s cry for provision, the people engaged in horrific orgies of worship that even included human sacrifice of small children as well as sacred sexual rites. If the people had worshiped “well enough’ Baal would respond. If the people hadn’t done enough, they would have to keep trying until he responded. In other words, you had to work hard to get Baal’s attention.
Israel had been more than willing to do everything Baal asked of them, while being unwilling to do what God asked of them. So if God were to treat Israel in the way Baal chose to treat the people, there would have been absolutely no reason to respond to any of Israel’s needs. And yet we read in Hosea 2: 21 – 23 that God planned to respond with great blessing in the face of all the reasons He should not. He intended to bless Israel with the re-invigoration of the seasonal cycle that produced a thriving life in the land. Because of God’s character, and not because it had been earned, love would be poured out to the ones once called “Not my loved ones.” Because of God’s character, and not because it had been earned, the ones once called “Not my People!” would once again be called “His people” and they would respond crying out, “You are my God!” So how does God respond to people who’ve disqualified themselves from His love? Here is another important insight: God remains committed to give us His absolute best!
Consider this question. Who are the hardest people to keep on loving in your life? We may say it’s the pathetic driver in the next lane, an unkind stranger, or some politician we don’t know. But for most of us, the hardest people to keep on loving are the ones who were once quite close and then betrayed us, or family members who had a responsibility to nurture us and did not or could not. The hardest people to keep on loving are the ones who were once really close to us and have turned on us, abandoned us, or ignored us. I think it’s safe to say that we don’t usually remain committed to provide our absolute best to these individuals. But fix your gaze on God, as He describes Himself in Hosea. He’s the God who takes it on the chin from us, and still does not relent in His desire to bless us. He’s the God who hears us criticize His way of doing things and watches us rebel against Him, and yet still does not relent in His desire to bless. I find it amazing, but God remains committed to give us His absolute best!