Glimpses of Hope

August 1, 2016

 

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, Bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her.” (Hosea 2.14 )

 

1 Peter 2.10 recalls the message of Hosea when he ends his paragraph with the words, ‘For once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.’ With these words, Peter concludes a section in his letter displaying the picture of the restoration of God’s people. When we turn back to Hosea, you’ll notice how he begins with a message of judgment: Israel is completely adulterous, going after other gods besides Yahweh. God tells Hosea to name his children, Not-beloved and Not-my-people as a prophetic picture of God’s rejection of Israel. They had completely broken the covenant. 

 

This isn’t the worst of it. It wasn’t just Israel who had broken God’s covenant and been sent into exile. The southern kingdom of Judah later on follows in the footsteps of the Israelites, and they go exile because of their wickedness. These two kingdoms together show the utter wickedness of every man; even people who had been given God’s laws and had seen the marvelous works of God can’t be faithful. Israel and Judah failed! So they were not beloved and not my people. 

 

But Hosea doesn’t just talk about judgment. He provides little glimpses of hope here and there. Look at our verse in Hosea 2.14, ‘I will allure her.’ Even in the midst of apostasy and adultery, God says that he will allure his people. Through the lens of Christ we see what this looks like more clearly. Jesus brings about the restoration from exile through his life on earth. He goes into the wilderness and returns. He brings to the people of God what was most lacking: the ability to follow God’s commands and the forgiveness of sins. Christ calls all to himself through his faithful love and mercy. Now anyone who is in Christ will be in the category of not loved. Instead, they will be called, beloved and my people. This is the message of 1 Peter. We as Christians are God’s people because we are in Christ. We are beloved now because we are in Christ. 

 

Our response then is found in 1 Peter 2: because we are beloved and God’s people, we offer up spiritual sacrifices to God and proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. In other words we worship him completely and proclaim him boldly! The result is quite the opposite than you would expect. Peter is writing to those who are being persecuted. He might have said, avoid talking too much and anyone who might cause you trouble, but instead he says worship and proclaim. These are public acts of devotion to Christ for the world to see and for some to scoff at. However, Peter considers that doing these things gives the believer hope. Doing these things reminds us of the sure foundation: our hope of salvation and glory. Even in the midst of pain, we are able to have inexpressible joy because of the work of Christ. This is why we regularly gather as a congregation to worship: because it reminds us of our great hope in the midst of a dying world.

 

 --J. Andersen 7/28/16
 

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