“What is the difference between God and man? In Hosea, God said He’d stop loving and no longer forgive. This seems contradictory to me” asked Toby to a friend.
“That’s a good question, Tobe. I almost forgot God said that through Hosea to Israel. The best I know is that God is God. There is no sin in Him, even when He “stops loving and forgiving”. But, man cannot stop loving without sinning. And I’ve never seen a man refuse to forgive without becoming bitter or resentful. It’s hard to understand I ‘spose. But the thing is, there are things we just don’t “get”, aren’t meant to “get” that God does and doesn’t do. He often seems to give breaks and leniency to some, and as far as I can see – it does them no good. Yet I’ve seen Him press down on some that I see as needing some kind of break, some of that leniency I see Him give another, yet He seems to be unrelenting. It makes no sense to me. He often tells me “It’s not meant to make sense to you.” Yet the Truth is, God can do or not do anything without a shred of sin or its effects – man can not. God is God, man is His creation. I’m not sure God truly stopped loving as we think of loving, or stopped forgiving as we think of forgiving Israel. Truly though I just don’t know. If He wanted me to know, I would. And so would you. God is God and can not sin, ever. Man is man and can not do anything good without Him – ever. So we are then called to just trust, and not always understand. I admit it’s really difficult to do. Yet when I do, I have peace.” The friend looked up at a flock of geese honking as they flew over head; he smiled.
Toby watched his friend, saw the words his friend speak came from some deep place of serenity Toby had never really experienced. All his life he asked questions and expected answers, answers that made sense to him. If they didn’t or no answer was forth coming he felt his spirit pout and would brood. He wanted what his friend had but had no idea where to begin. He had been reading the book Hosea as a result of a series his church was doing on God’s love verses man’s love. It kept poking at the question center of his mind.
Could I love someone who would not love me back? Could I continue to hold and cherish a woman if she always went to other lovers?
God’s love seemed impossible. But then there were those seeming contradictions. As he mentioned earlier about God saying he would cease to love and forgive. It confused him. Yet the words his friend spoke were true. Man can’t stop loving without sinning, and if God is all He says He is perhaps He could. Perhaps the “ceasing of love” mentioned in Hosea was different than what he could understand. Another passage came to mind. From the 1st chapter.
“So what about where God told Hosea to tell them that they were no longer His people and He was no longer their God? But then not long after that He then says He’d no longer consider then ‘not His people’ but change the name to His people and change again their name from ‘not loved’ to loved. Does God always contradict Himself?” Asked Toby.
The friend was quiet for a length of minutes that made Toby wonder if he’d heard him. Yet the way he looked at him in stillness left little doubt he’d been heard.
“Toby, the same thing seems to apply here. Only God can disown without abandoning. Only God can withdraw His person, His character without withdrawing His presence. It’s so hard to understand to us because we are incapable of disowning without sinning a.k.a. ceasing to love. We cannot withdraw our person without cutting someone off from our presence. Read Romans 12, it talks about how God corrects or disciplines those He loves. Then go to Isaiah chapter 53, in verse 5 it says “the disciplining that makes us whole fell on Him” meaning Jesus. Whenever you read about God passing judgement and causing things to happen that seem “unloving and rejecting” to our mind to His people we must keep this in mind. Love is discipline. And only God can discipline perfectly, fairly and lovingly. Hosea is a love story of God’s undying love and commitment to us as people who constantly betray and turn away from Him. How He is not like us and will never turn away from us.
When we discipline our children, it’s love that causes it and fuels it. It seems unfair to them, and at the time of correction we can come across to them as though we have ceased to love them. But they will learn in time that perspective. Not right away. It takes time. Correction, plus time soaked in consistent love teaches this. Not words, not “understanding” as we think but as Love teaches with time, correction, and faithfulness.
Love does not make us comfortable to be unloving, unfaithful, selfish, abusive, self-centered, revengful, and so on. Love makes us uncomfortable doing that, too our benefit, our good. But that brushes up against us as unloving and unkind much of the time. Hence why we must not lean on our understanding to follow God. The passages in Hosea you’ve been referring to are loving discipline passages. You must ask a question every time you read God’s Word. It’s not a question that seeks to make your understanding feel good. It is a question that asks the opposite. It is this:
“Lord, would You give me eyes to see, ears to hear,and a heart to understand what YOU are saying here. Give me, YOUR perspective, Your understanding?”
It’s more a request, a plea than a question as we understand questioning. But it is the best question anyone can ever ask of Him.”
The friend again, looked up into the sky. No birds were flying and honking, but the cloud that had been shielding the Sun from its full brightness was moving off to the west. The full light and heat of the Sun became a physical thing to the eyes and the body. Again his friend smiled. The smile seemed to say “thank you God”.
Again Toby was drawn to his friends words but also how he seemed to be part of them, it wasn’t just head knowledge, it was where he was moved and had his being.
“God, I want that! I want to know You like that. I want to be part of YOUR understanding, and not my own! I want to know how to receive YOUR love and so be able to love like that. I will continue to read Hosea, and ask or plead the question this friend has shown me. Thank you for bending down in this moment to teach me the Holy contrast of man verses You.”
The two friends continued to sit in silence, but having very real and intimate conversations with the God of Hosea. And it was good.
♡ Grace and Shalom in Yeshua the Messiah ♡