Healing Our Backsliding?!!
What God told Israel through His prophet, Hosea (14:1), is as true now as then. “Your sins have been your downfall.” So what’s to be done about it? First, we have to admit that God is right about our sin diagnosis. Our love affair with sin led us on a long journey to a country far away from Him. Hosea tells God’s guilty people that they need to return to God. How does a city, a country or a church, return to God? Answer: one soul at a time. And if one person’s decision ignites another’s faithful response? Well, so much the better! I must admit that living life according to my selfish agenda doesn’t work. It doesn’t raise me up. It leaves my soul in the dust. The end result is all darkness and devastation. But God graciously invites me back.
Secondly, as you return to your God, Hosea says, “Take with you words.” What else do we have to offer? Did God want the animal sacrifices of unsurrendered souls? No! First He wanted their hearts. He longed to hear words from convicted, broken hearts …from hearts that were penitent…and which longed to return home to Him. The fact is, dear and fellow-sinner, that our sins have so impoverished us that we have absolutely nothing to offer God. All we have left is a hope (which is itself the gracious gift of the kind of Father God we have) that He won’t turn from us in utter disgust…a wish (that we are fearful of verbalizing in case it were not possible) that there might yet be some slight chance for us…a heart-deep sorrow over what our sins have done (God help us) which makes us so sick and tired of sinning that we want to be done with it all…and a determination (such as we are able to muster) to give up, once and for all, going our own way that we might go it His way.
So, as we return to God we should take with us words…but not too many words…no excuse-making, no rationalizations, no explanations…just sincere words of repentance and the simple plea, “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously…”(14:2). The words we take with us should be thought out by us beforehand. We must think about what we will say to our God. Israel had been guilty of seeking and trusting in foreign alliances. In order to bolster up military assistance through those alliances they gave themselves over to the worship of the gods of those countries with whom they had entered into agreement. So as they return to the one true God they say, “We’re done, Lord, done with trusting in military alliance…done with looking to the power of horses…done with crafting gods with our own hands then falling down to worship the pathetic things.” God was pleased to hear such things from these people and promises to love them freely (as He always had) and to heal their backsliding (v. 4a). What’s that? Did He say He would heal their backsliding? Yes! Praise His Name! Remember this was a nation prone to backsliding. Backsliding was nearly their national pastime. Was the healing of their backsliding really possible? God said it was. God said He would do it! And that generation who were the recipients of the severe mercy of God washed their hands, finally, of all idolatry (v.8).
Do we really wish to be healed of our backsliding? What has come between us and our Father God that is blocking us from His healing of our backsliding? What is it God needs to hear from us? What words from your broken heart shall you bring to God? He can forgive us. He can heal us. And our Lord’s Cross is the guarantee of that!