“And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals
when she burned offerings to them
and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry,
and went after her lovers
and forgot me, declares the LORD.
Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.”
I love the complexities within this promise of God to His people. They had turned from Him. They worshiped other gods. They believed that their provisions came from idols instead of the God of Israel, their Provider. Our God is long-suffering, but there comes a point when we must face consequences of our choices. If we have chosen to serve other gods, to put other priorities and desires above our love for Him, He will respond as needed.
But His words are not ones of condemnation and darkness. Within them we find hope. Our God’s purpose in consequences is to draw us back to Himself. In His wisdom, He will do what must be done to turn our hearts back to Him. He will remove other lovers from our lives. He will bring us to the wilderness and to the valley of trouble, and there our hope will be renewed and our joy in Him restored.
Let me take a moment to clarify—our God does this out of love for us. Not out of an egotistical, narcissistic viewpoint. He created us and put eternity into our hearts. We will never be satisfied by a lesser substitution for the living God. We can run after momentary pleasures, but they will leave us empty. We can place our hope in ourselves, those around us, or false gods, but all of that will fail us. Our provision comes from the God of heaven who created and owns all things. Our salvation is found in Him. Peace, joy, and purpose are experienced in His glorious presence. He wants our joy to be full and for us to be all that He created us to be—and that can only happen when our eyes are fixed on Him and we are serving Him with joyfulness and gladness of heart.
May this passage remind us of the constant, steadfast hope we have in Christ. He reconnects us with our Heavenly Father and we are filled with the Spirit of God. Even in the moments when we are tempted and drawn away, we need not fear returning to our Lord. Condemnation does not await us. Love does.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16