Week 5: Lessons from the Prophets Cont’d
Day 1 – In Thee The Fatherless Find Mercy: Hosea 14:3
Last week we started in Isaiah. Hosea was his contemporary – he also prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. His message was taken to the Northern Kingdom, Israel. His life and ministry are very interesting, but more to the point (for this study) this may be one of the most revealing instances of the usage of the word “fatherless” of all those that we look at in the prophets. God has been pleading with His people to return to Him, time and time again. Finally, in the last chapter, Hosea begs the people to turn back, he even gives them the words that they should use in their repenting:
“O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say anymore to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in THEE the fatherless findeth mercy.”
This verse is significant in several ways. First of all, mercy is a recurring theme throughout the book of Hosea. It is mentioned at least ten times, though the book is only fourteen chapters long.
In Hosea 1:6,7 God tells us that He is not going to have mercy on Israel, but He will have mercy on Judah, and He will do it in a way so that He gets the glory, “But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by the bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.” (1:7)
In chapter two, Hosea declares that he will not have mercy on the children of his wife because of her whoredoms. This, of course, is a picture of the idolatry of Israel, and another reminder that God will not have mercy on them. But further down in the chapter God gives hope, for Israel will be restored to Him, when He has taken “the names of Baalim out of her mouth”. At that time, He will show mercy to her that has not obtained mercy. (vs. 23)
In chapter four, God states that one part of his “controversy” with Israel is because there is no truth, mercy or knowledge of God in the land.
In chapter six, he tells them, “I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” (6:6)
In chapter twelve, God tells his people to return to Him, “Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.” Part of their return was to be a people of mercy, why, because He is not only a God of justice (which was being displayed very clearly at the time) but also a God of mercy and He wants the people to be aware of the fact that it is in HIM that the fatherless find mercy.
Why is this so important? Look at the results of the knowledge that it is God in whom the fatherless find mercy: “Neither will we say anymore to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods, for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.” What is the full force behind those words? Think about it for a minute. If you needed water, where would you go – a dry well or one that is full? Pretty simple answer. If you were oppressed, where would you go – to a judge who would execute true judgment or to a judge whose judgment has been perverted by the taking of bribes? God is saying that the understanding that it is God who meets the needs of the fatherless, and who extends mercy and true judgment is sufficient cause for the people to turn away from false gods, the gods that they had made with their own hands. God’s response, in His own words, would be: “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely…” (14:4)
The fact that the people could actually see that mercy came to the fatherless from God was enough to turn them away from idols. It was proof that He was supremely God. Is His jealously in the matter, then, any wonder? This is an area for which God wants the glory. It is not to be given to another. The fulfillment of the command to care for the fatherless was to be living and constant proof of who was God in Israel.
“Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” – I Samuel 15:22
Let’s bring this into today’s realm. What “gods” have we made that would draw the fatherless, the stranger, the widow, the poor and the needy away from the true God, and would cause them to seek mercy at the hand of one who cannot give it?
Is there a need for repentance and returning to God in this area in America today?
Where will that repentance begin?
Up Next: Day 2: Jeremiah and the Fatherless
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