Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Making Choices, by Connie Townsend, Fine Art America, 2015
Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.
— Hosea 14:9
Chapters 4 to 14 of Hosea describe the sins of Israel, going as far back as the incident where the not-yet-born Jacob attempts to prevent his brother Esau from being born first by grasping his heel to hold him back.1 The very name Jacob means 'heel-grasper' a Hebrew idiom for deceptive behaviour. Israel, in other words, was born in sin, and God reminds them of this. This is essentially God admitting failure. He raised the duplicitous Jacob to become an honourable man only to find centuries later that his character was stronger than even God's power to reform, and it carried through to his descendants. The book of Hosea is largely God's lament at His own inability to raise an honourable nation.
Only in this final verse is there an indication that God is willing to try again, that He hasn't completely given up. It's a model of the redemptive spirit: no matter how great our transgressions, nor how long they have lasted, there is always a possibility of rehabilitation, of restoration. All it takes is choice, and here God asks Israel to choose the path of righteousness that they might still be redeemed. It must be a choice though. Redemption is not free, it is not magic, it is not cast upon us. We work for it. And it starts with choice.
1 Jacob's birth is described in Genesis 25:26, and referenced in Hosea 12:2-3