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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hope, If . . .

If only you had paid attention to My commandments! Then your well-being would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea (Isaiah 48:18).

I just finished reading Hosea. I normally complete the thirteen chapters in two or three days. The chapters are short. But this time I was so captured by the images and lessons surging at me from the text, I read it in one sitting.
St. Paul reminds us the things written in the Old testament are for our instruction (see Romans 15:4 and 1 Corinthians 10:11). And they will instruct those with eyes to see and ears to hear, because God is the same today as He was four thousand years ago, and people are people regardless of the time, place or culture. Put those truisms together and they provide an unerring predictor of future events based on past performance.

Hosea writes about Judah and Ephraim (code words for Israel), but as I read the text I thought it eerily easy to substitute the word “America” in their place. The issues they faced – and the issues we face – are so startling similar.
For example, in chapter four the prophet writes: [T]he Lord has a case against the inhabitants of the land, because there is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land. There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed . . .  Harlotry, wine and new wine take away the understanding. . . . a spirit of harlotry has led them astray, and they have played the harlot, departing from their God (4:1-12).
 
Hosea continues in chapter five: Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God, for a spirit of harlotry is within them, and they do not know the Lord (5:4). Then in chapter eight: They have set up kings, but not by Me; They have appointed princes, but I did not know it . . . They sow the wind and they reap the whirlwind (8:4-7).
 
For thirteen chapters God threatens, pleads, and anguishes over His beloved people. And because they are beloved, the last chapter promises them hope: Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God . . . say to Him, “Take away [our] iniquity and receive us graciously . . .  [and] I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from them. I will be like the dew to Israel (14:1-5).
 
Sadly, though, Israel continued in their rebellion, and disaster finally fell.

God’s absolute and unchanging requirement for our holiness remains as true today as it did then. And if America is traveling a similar road as ancient Israel, it is good to know there yet remains hope for all for whom Jesus died; Hope because we – you and I – are God’s beloved.

But hope, only if we return to God and repent.

6 comments:

Sinco said...

Time for violent prayer!

Richard Maffeo said...

Oh,I agree. Wish more leaders in the Church would call the flock to prayer.

Anonymous said...

Rosary and Novena (like the "old days"). As a family, we said the rosary every night after dinner- on our knees- smart parents!!

Richard Maffeo said...

Anonymous, and so I pray for revival in America. May God give us multiple tens of thousands of parents like your parents!

matthew Ross said...

I agree Rich,the parallels are frightening. We are so used to external stimulation these days that it is hard for alot of people to actually take the time for private prayer, scripture reading and family prayer. I think if more people really took the time for these things the larger social problems would begin taking care of themselves; as it is we are in serious moral decline and i'll bet there is a direct corespondance to the moral decline of our society and the lack of prayer in family and in schools.

Richard Maffeo said...

Thanks for the comment, Matt. It starts with us, but we ought to urge others to do likewise. God raise up prayer warriors among the leadership and laity!