Saturday, October 6, 2018

EmmDev 2018-10-06 [Wherever I am...] In spite of our sin, God continues to look on us with compassion

Week 1: Seeing God's Heart for the World.

In spite of our sin, God continues to look on us with compassion

Hosea is one of those prophets who consistently project very intense conversations between God and Israel. It is clear that the relationship between Israel and God had been almost irretrievably, irredeemably and irrevocably broken down. The conversations, peppered with intermittent regrets and doubts, reveal forgiveness and compassion.

Admah and Zeboiim were two cities that stood in close proximity to the Sodom and Gomorrah of old. They were just as corrupt and sexually immoral as those two infamous cities destroyed by God's sulphuric fire. But some scholars argue that Admah and Zeboiim are so unknown, so unfamiliar, in our conscious everyday Biblical lexicon that when God speaks of Ephraim and Israel in the same terms as Admah and Zeboiim, His most distinct attribute --- compassion --- is invoked. In spite of our sin, God continues to look on us with compassion.

It does not matter, the depth and width, the intensity and grave character of our sin, God's heart is changed within Him, and His compassion is aroused. Compassion is undeserving grace, dispensed by God when the damage in the damaged goods is so severe that it can almost not be turned around or repaired. Even with the indelible traces of immoral Admah and self-destructive Zeboiim within God's chosen people; even with the sense of irreversibility in annihilating Israel as God did to all four cities, God continues to look up compassionately upon Ephraim and Israel.

Humanity has been on a warpath to self-destruction and self-annihilation, through racism, through sexism, through tribalism, through endemic corruption within government, through social and cultural idolatry, through heartless financial and capitalist globalism, through worship of sport and money and power ---- God has not given up upon us.

Even though we are worthy of the consuming fire that passed Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, out of existence and out memory, God's graceful heart has been changed within Him and His saving compassion has been aroused for our salvation and our redemption.

In our perpetual, unrelenting state of complete and absolute messed-upness, God continually gives us another chance. Another chance to turn back towards Him, another chance to reassert our destroyed relationship with Him (Creator God), another chance to make right with each other (people), another chance to make right with the created order (nature).

God continuously restores our lost divinity through this compassion and grace. We owe Him one thing: totally giving and surrendering our lives to Him. Our faith that Jesus Christ is the son of the Living God, the forgiving God of Ephraim, the compassionate God of Israel. He is faithful to bring us back to the threshold of grace and blessing, to be graceful to others and to be a blessing to others. In spite of our sin, God continues to look upon us with compassion

"How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboiim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused"      (Hosea11:7-8)

My name is Sipho Mtetwa, ordained to pastoral ministry in the Uniting Presbyterian Church pastoral ministry 33 years ago. I am husband to Xoli with 2 girls (Sinentokozo and Ndumiso) and 1 boy (Khethelo). I'm also grandfather to 3 grandkids. I write IsiZulu vernacular poetry and love listening to jazz. (Sipho is the Moderator-Designate of General Assembly and it's also his birthday today!!)

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