2nd November 2018
Forgiveness is available to everyone
Chris Sparkes reflects on Hosea
When I was a child my Dad’s word was law. I don’t mean he was dictatorial, unkind or unfair, but back then Dads were the head of the household, that’s just how it was. I was always sure I was deeply loved and if I had a problem I could tell Dad about it. If, however, I had done something wrong I was equally sure Dad would be angry, he would tell me exactly what he thought of what I had done/not done and probably impose some sort of punishment as a reminder not to do it again! Through this process I was never ever in any doubt I would be forgiven and restored to dad’s good opinion.
To own up and face embarrassment and the consequences of my actions, or not? That was the question. Would the punishment be worse than the guilty secret? Would Dad love me anymore if I owned up? Point 1:Secrecy – Dad probably already knew what I had done and sorted it out in his mind before I ever plucked up courage to admit it, so there was no secrecy. Point 2: Love – I don’t know what it would have taken for Dad to stop loving me, but childhood mistakes probably weren’t among the most heinous crimes. I also knew in the back of my mind, that Dad would think better of me if I admitted the mistake, rather than keep it from him.
The whole of the book of Hosea is seemingly a very strange story. God is trying to get Hosea to understand what the people of Israel have done in rejecting or forgetting God. Also, what then happens when they persist in going their own way. By chapter 6 of Hosea the people of Israel were beginning to see that to own up and say sorry to God couldn’t be any worse than where they were.
They knew they couldn’t continue as they were. They also knew they had to own up to God, and face the consequences of his anger. They did know that God would restore their relationship once they were back on the right path.
When I talk with people who won’t acknowledge God, the conversation sometimes turns on the fact that they feel they cannot turn to God because they are not ‘good enough’ They believe that because of something they have done wrong they cannot be forgiven by God. It is a hugely liberating discovery that God doesn’t work like that. Forgiveness was paid for in the blood that Jesus shed. Today anyone can be forgiven, no matter where they've been or what they've done. Amazing grace!
I am passionate about seeing children and young people learn about the good news of Jesus. Through my role with Scripture Union, I support the South-West Regional Team in mission, administration, communication and media. I also serve on SU events such as Creation Fest and Frontline South Africa.