Christmas has passed but I have continued to think about its meaning and what it tells us about our God and His heart for His children. I’ll start with an amazing story of love and devotion despite unthinkable infidelity.
Many years ago, in Israel, there was a young prophet named Hosea who was marrying age. God spoke to him and told him that he was to marry a prostitute. Despite the obvious heartache it may cause him, he knew that God had always been loving, kind, and good to him. Even as Hosea trusted and obeyed, his Father went on to explain that his wife would continue to be unfaithful and that some of the children she bore for him would be conceived out of wedlock. At this point I would be thinking, “Okay, surely this isn’t God speaking to me. There is no way that God would ask me to do such a thing.” Nonetheless, Hosea continued to listen to God and was able to learn an amazing truth by listening and obeying even when he may have been grieved by what he was being asked to do. Everything played out exactly as God had told him. Hosea’s wife, Gomer was continually unfaithful to him. Yet, time and time again, Hosea went after her. God taught Hosea that God will continue to pursue unfaithful Israel even as she continually turns to other “lovers.” Ultimately, God will be united to Israel as we read in Hosea 3:5
But afterward the people will return and devote themselves to the Lord their God and to David’s descendant, their king.[g] In the last days, they will tremble in awe of the Lord and of his goodness.
Despite God’s anger over the unfaithfulness of Israel, He still tells of a time when the relationship will be restored.
The Lord says,
“Then I will heal you of your faithlessness;
my love will know no bounds,
for my anger will be gone forever. Hosea 14:4
Next we go to a dinner party where Jesus had been invited by a prominent religious man (a Pharisee). While there, some of the religious leaders and teachers began to talk about how Jesus was welcoming and even ate with sinners! Jesus shared the following story:
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 5:4-7
There is a lot of irony in what Jesus says here. The “religious” people didn’t know that they too were lost sheep. They needed to repent as much as the “sinners.” Still, Jesus paints a brilliant picture of a Good Shepherd who goes after His lost sheep.
These two stories tell me so much about Christmas and about the heart of God. They tell me of the amazing truth of the Gospel, that God graciously came after us! We were lost and didn’t even know it. We thought we could make it on our own. Silly sheep. We need a good shepherd. We run after things constantly because we think they will make us happy. We prostitute ourselves instead of resting in the arms of our loving Husband (stick with me guys—we are His bride). Silly Bride. We need our Groom.
Story of Stories—who’d have ever come up with the plan that God had. Our Groom would come after us. Our Shepherd would carry us. And, that He’d leave Heaven to be born into a cold, probably stinky, animal stall, and would live a life of pain, rejection, and perfect devotion and obedience to His Father so that He could be with us forever. Amazing.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For this reason he had to be made like them,[k] fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:14, 15, 17, 18
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Each day we go into the world with the opportunity to make an impact. Each person whose paths cross ours matters. Lives intersect for a reason. I believe there is One who directs our steps to these sometimes seemingly random meetings. My goal for these encounters is that I make a difference. That is my desire for those who venture across my blog. I hope you are blessed and it makes a difference for you.