The prophet Hosea writes: “It shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.” (Hos 1:10 KJV)
The evangelist St.John writes: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (Joh 1:12 KJV)
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you always +
Dear friends of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ: In this mornings reading we read from the introductory chapter penned by the prophet Hosea. He introduces these words with the heading: “The word of the LORD that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel.” (Hos1:1 NIV) It’s not some timeless myth, but history clearly dated and situated. It continuous with that dramatic story initiated by God’s reaction to Israel’s unfaithfulness and serious infidelity likened to that of a promiscuous woman, who isn’t loyal to her betrothed husband, but tries her luck with whoever comes by the way. Israel, who was but a desert urchin and haggard ragamuffin when taken up by the Lord as his own beloved and nurtured bride and wife. He bound her by divine covenant to be his very own holy people, to live according to his will and ways and he as guarding her most jealously as his very own priced treasure and most beloved.
Israel however disregarded this special bond, cut herself loose from this rather exceptional tie and bandied around with other idols, throwing herself at the ever changing political powers of the day and by entering into seemingly more promising alliances, unions and partnerships. Thus forsaking the solitary union with the one and only true living God and associating with passing fancies of the day in a pragmatic, lighthearted and opportunistic fashion.
Now God is a jealous God. He doesn’t bear with such sinful pride and deceitful conduct for he says, “I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Ex. 20: 5–6)
So God broke Israel’s bow (v 5) and called Israel: “Ruhamah” i.e. not loved – not loved anymore, no longer loved: “for I will no longer show love to Israel, that I should at all forgive them.” (v.6) and called Israel “Lo-Ammi” i.e not my people “for you are not my people, and I am not your God.” (v.9) This was a divorce. The death knell for Israel – discarded, uncared for, despised and rejected, dishonored, defiled and desecrated. A terrible fate.
That is the backdrop of the beautiful prophecy in this mornings reading, which says: “Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God’ … and great will be the day of Jezreel” (Hos 1:10f NIV)
What a wonderful change of fate, something mirroring the wonderful exchange, where our Lord Jesus Christ goes out of his way to find the lost and forsaken sinners and restores them to the very family of God – as beloved sons and daughters of the heavenly Father himself: Nicodemus, Zacheus, St.Peter, James and John, Mary Magdalene, Martha, the Samaritan woman at the well, St. Matthews the tax collector etc. etc.
The cloud of witnesses to the gracious dealing of our God with sinners, idolaters and faithless enemies is truly great and encompasses the entire Christian Church, consisting of forgiven sinners, sanctified sons and daughters of God, forgiven, saved and kept with Jesus Christ in holiness and sanctity of life.
The story of the lost son being restored by the grace of his good and gracious Father, who dresses him, restores him in honor and dignity and calls out a feast of feasts (Luke 15) summarizes this wonderful dealing of our God, who does not remain angry forever, but who shows favor and forgiveness, love and mercy. It is he, who draws, calls and invites sinners (like we all were) through the very workings and means of the Holy Spirit actively saving and sanctifying and keeping with Christ in true faith through the means of grace (Word and Sacrament), so that the saved and forgiven people of the Church and sons and daughters of the heavenly Father would be ashamed of their sin, no longer revel in it, but renounce the ways and works of the devil daily and put their trust solely and again and again in the forgiveness of the triune God, who alone is the source and center of blessed life and salvation as he gives, grants and shares his love and goodness with them on a daily basis like daily break.
Thanks and praise be to him our Father and savior, Lord and king, who lives and reigns one God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you always + Amen.
- O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!
- My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.
- Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
’Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
’Tis life, and health, and peace.
- He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.
- He speaks, and, listening to His voice,
New life the dead receive,
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe.
- Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy.
- Glory to God, and praise and love
- Be ever, ever given,
By saints below and saints above,
The church in earth and heaven.
- Sudden expired the legal strife,
- ’Twas then I ceased to grieve;
My second, real, living life
I then began to live.
- Then with my heart I first believed,
Believed with faith divine,
Power with the Holy Ghost received
To call the Savior mine.
- I felt my Lord’s atoning blood
Close to my soul applied;
Me, me He loved, the Son of God,
For me, for me He died!
- I found and owned His promise true,
Ascertained of my part,
My pardon passed in heaven I knew
When written on my heart.
- Look unto Him, ye nations, own
Your God, ye fallen race;
Look, and be saved through faith alone,
Be justified by grace.
- See all your sins on Jesus laid:
The Lamb of God was slain,
His soul was once an offering made
For every soul of man.
- Harlots and publicans and thieves
- In holy triumph join!
Saved is the sinner that believes
From crimes as great as mine.
- Murderers and all ye hellish crew
In holy triumph join!
Believe the Savior died for you;
For me the Savior died.
Charles Wesley 1707-1788