Joshua Masters, Care Ministries
If the nation of Israel were applying for a job, it might be best to keep this set of readings off the resumé. Out of context, it may seem like God is turning His back on Israel, but make no mistake; it is Israel who has repeatedly turned its back on God—we see a rebellious nation, a people filled with selfish ambitions and a seemingly endless line of despicable rulers (2 Kings 15:6-29). This list of men who sat on a throne that had been designated for the coming King of Kings (a man of perfection) were nothing but “evil in the eyes of the Lord.” They worshipped idols, stole, murdered one-another for position and sliced open pregnant women. These were the actions of people called to be God’s representatives to the world. This is how the chosen people of God behaved.
Wouldn’t God be justified in sending locusts or a blaze of fire to destroy Israel (Amos 7:1-6)? Wouldn’t He be within His right to abandon them and choose someone else? But He doesn’t. Yes, there are consequences for Israel’s behavior, but the fulfillment of God’s promise is never based on our actions, but on God’s integrity. Despite everything Israel had done to sully His name in the world, He not only promises to forgive them, but to fully restore them (Amos 9:11-15). That’s not just a promise found in the Old Testament, but it’s continually proclaimed in the New Testament (see Romans & Revelation). Even as they’re being disciplined, God makes a point to remind Israel how much He loves them.
So what? How does God’s commitment to Israel affect my life in any way? Why should I care that God will rebuild Israel and restore the Jewish People; why do I care if God keeps His promise to them or not? How does it help me to read these difficult passages about horrible people who took advantage of God’s grace? It matters because I’ve done the same thing.
I spent years of my life running from the call God had put on my life. Even though I knew He existed, I purposely ignored God’s voice to seek pleasure and fame. I rejected the clear plan God had made for me because I wanted to be accepted by other people. And when my choices led to destruction and brokenness—when I found myself wandering the streets of New York without hope, God didn’t send fire or locusts to destroy me for my disobedience. He didn’t say, “The things you’ve done disgust me, and I will not have you represent me.” Instead he said, “I love you. I will forgive you, and I will restore you,” because God had made a promise to me. That promise was made through the work of Christ, and His promises are irrevocable. They are always fulfilled. They are trustworthy because His grace is greater than my failures.