Scripture: Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel. Hosea 1:10-11 ESV
Observation: The first three chapters of Hosea perhaps comprise the most apparent Old Testament precursor to our Gospel. The Lord speaks to the prophet with graphic exhortations that expose Israel’s whoredom after pagan gods and his costly pursuit for their affections. In chapter 1, Yahweh commands Hosea to marry a prostitute, Gomer, who bears Hosea two sons and a daughter. He tells Hosea to name his firstborn, a son, Jezreel (Hebrew meaning “May God give seed”), his secondborn, a daughter, No Mercy, and thirdborn, a son, Not My People. Why? Because Israel had prostituted itself, chasing after pagan gods and indulging in a self-gratifying, sinful lifestyle. Yet, on the heels of declared condemnation, Israel’s Lover speaks words of hope, of redemption, that point to fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant: that God would reestablish Jezreel (“give seed”) as promised through the lineage of Abraham—being numerous as the sand of the sea.
Takeaway: So how do we understand “no mercy” and “not my people”? Does our Lord mean that he will show no mercy and abandon his people? No, for he would not have then declared his intention to restore his people to him. But we can understand that he will show no mercy toward sin, which separates us from him. Our biblical narrative addresses the infiltration, spread, defeat, and obliteration of sin from Genesis to Revelation. And at its climax, we read of how our loving Father devised a radical plan that ransomed his Son’s life in exchange for ours. Jesus would bear “no mercy” that we might become “children of the living God.”
Still, we live in a transitional period where sin lingers and can gain the upper hand in our lives. Like the Father, we need to show no mercy and cooperate with the Holy Spirit in putting sin to death. We need to stop limping along with sin on our shoulders, rationalizing and justifying our behavior, and instead follow the Holy Spirits’ lead in confessing, repenting, receiving forgiveness, and taking his escape routes from temptations. In other words, we need to live like “children of the living God.”
Prayer: Father God, we humbly thank you for showing no mercy toward sin at the priceless expense of your Son. Would you please help us to live like “children of living God,” cooperating with the sanctifying work of your Holy Spirit who is transforming us into the likeness of your Son? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling