From Brokeness to Blessing part 4
As stated in the previous study, this chapter is divided into three parts. It begins with A Plea For Israel’s Return. Because Israel ignored God’s plea, God charted a crisis course for the nation, The Path to Israel’s Recovery. It was a dead-end path, meant to bring the nation to the realization that only God could fully satisfy her needs. First God took her down the path of difficulty. It led to disappointment and frustration. Then he took her down the path of disclosure, exposing the bankruptcy of the idols upon which she had come to depend and the baseness of her own character. Finally, he took her down the path of discipline, leaving her joyless, empty, and despising the carnality and infidelity that had led to her ruin.
All of this pictures several things:
- How God dealt with Gomer to reconcile her to Hosea.
- How God would deal with Israel to restore her to Himself.
- How God deals with us when we look to meet our needs outside of our relationship to Him.
In the latter part of this chapter, we have God’s Plan For Israel’s Restoration. It begins in verse 14 with a surprising statement. "Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably to her. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the Valley of Achor for a door of hope."
God said he would call Israel into the wilderness – a desert, empty, barren place. Why? Because there, alone with God, she would finally realize that He was her only hope. In that empty place, He would lead her to the vineyards that would satisfy her every thirst – all those longings of her heart that she had tried to satisfy at the dried up wells of idolatry.
It was not anger that motivated God to take these extreme measures, but love. God was bringing Israel to the place of brokenness so that He might fulfill all the blessings that were rightfully hers by virtue of her covenant relationship. She had to be broken from her independence and submit herself to Him as the One who had the exclusive right to meet her every need.
That is exactly where God wants to bring each of us. If necessary, He will take us into the wilderness – the place where nothing seems to work for us, where life becomes joyless and barren. It’s the place of brokenness. It often includes broken dreams, broken health, broken relationships and broken lives. But God only brings us to the place of brokenness so that we can experience greater blessings. For many of us, we have to get alone with God in the wilderness – defeated and despairing even of life itself. Only then will we abandon our idols of self-sufficiency and submit ourselves to Him as the One who has the exclusive right to meet our every need.
I. The Process of Brokenness – Verses 14-15
- God takes His people into the desert in order to prove that He is the source of their sufficiency.
- God uses brokenness to reveal our need of Him.
- In the desert of our brokenness, we are brought to the place where our emotional, spiritual, and physical reserves are dried up and we are made to see that only God can satisfy our "thirst."
- God takes us into the desert, stripping away everything we have come to depend upon until we having nothing left to depend upon but Him.
- He may allow insecurity to threaten your home. He may allow your health to suffer. He may allow you to go through a financial crisis.
- If we listen to God in those "wilderness" periods of our lives, we will hear God speaking "comfortably" to us – assuring us of His love, offering to sustain us and supply whatever we need at that moment.
- In the wilderness, we hear Him say, "My grace is sufficient for thee."
- God uses brokenness to reveal His ability to meet our needs.
- God said that He would give Israel her vineyards from thence – from within the wilderness.
Israel was familiar with what it was like to be in the wilderness. They had been there before. At one point, faced with starvation, God gave them manna. When they feared they would die of thirst, God gave them water from a rock. We need to understand that when God led Israel into the wilderness, He knew she would encounter hunger and thirst. He also knew exactly how He would meet those needs. He lovingly arranged the wilderness experiences to demonstrate His ability to completely meet Israel’s needs.
- In the wilderness, we learn that God is reliable. Through brokenness, we learn to be God-reliant instead of self-reliant.
- God allows His people to suffer defeat in order to prove that He is the source of their victory.
1. The source of defeat
The Valley of Achor is an unusual place to find hope. The word "Achor" means trouble. The place got its name because the events that transpired there led to Israel’s first defeat in Canaan. They are recorded in Joshua chapter 7. As a man named Achan was making his way through the rubble of Jericho, he found an imported garment, 200 shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing 50 shekels. Suddenly, God’s prohibition against keeping any spoils from the city seemed unfair. Achan could think of no reason why he shouldn’t have them, so he hid them in his tent.
Not long afterwards, Israel attacked the tiny city of Ai and suffered a humiliating defeat. When Israel sought a reason for the defeat, Achan’s sin was discovered. The stolen property was brought to Joshua, Achan and his family were stoned for the crime, and all their property, including that which had been stolen, was destroyed.
After Israel admitted their failure and allowed God to judge their sin, Ai was attacked a second time. This time, God gave Israel the victory.
How could this experience be a "door of hope" for Israel? Because Israel was going to be defeated again. The Assyrians were going to destroy the nation. She would be scattered to the four corners of the earth. But one day, God is going to allure her into the wilderness and speak comfortably to her. He is going to point out the sin that brought about her shame and humiliation. She will admit her failure, God will judge her sin, and then she will experience victory.
What was Achan’s sin? What is our sin that leads to so much shame, humiliation, and defeat? It is not trusting God to meet our needs and going about satisfying our desires our own way. That always leads to Achor – trouble. It causes us to forfeit God’s blessings and experience defeat. Not until this sin is brought into the open and the flesh judged can we have the victory God wants to give us.
- The song of victory.
Bill Gillham writes,"
Whatever song is on the lips of the Christian who has yet to come to the end of the flesh’s resources is like the latest tune to hit the top forty. It comes with about a thirty-day warranty. The only permanent, lasting song that any Christian will experience on this planet – the only one with a lifetime guarantee – is the one she learns to sing in the valley of Achor, where she comes to the end of depending on her flesh. Lifetime Guarantee, page 172.
The process of brokenness ends when we abandon our fleshly resources and yield ourselves to the will of God. The moment we respond to God with a submissive heart, allowing Him to meet our needs, the blessings begin.
II. The Promised Blessings – Verses 16-23
- A New Perspective of God (16-17)
- The word Ishi means "My Husband." The word Baali means "My Master."
- Baali stresses a relationship of duty. Ishi stresses a relationship of devotion.
- Baali puts the emphasis on seeking approval. Ishi puts the emphasis on knowing she is accepted.
- Brokenness always leads to a new level of intimacy and trust in the Lord.
- Before we are broken, God’s will seems like a burden to be borne, an obstacle to our dreams and desires. Service is a duty and seeking approval is our highest calling.
- After we are broken, we discover that God only wants what is best in our lives. If He withholds that which seems good, He does so that He might give us that which is good.
- A New Peace in Life (18)
- The prophetic application
All of this looks ahead to the Millennium, when Israel will experience complete and final restoration. The lion and the lamb will lie down together. The implements of war will be turned into productive machinery. In that day, God will secure and guarantee Israel’s safety.
- The practical application
Brokenness always leads to a new experience of peace. It is the product of knowing that God is in control of every circumstance and that He is responsible for every need. It is the result of submission, yielding to the Lord’s leadership and depending upon Him in every circumstance to supply every need.
- A New Pledge of Fidelity (19-20) #. The vow of betrothal
In verses 19-20, we have a renewal of God’s wedding vows with Israel. He reminds her of the basis on which their relationship will be built.
- In righteousness – meaning that God will always do what is wholesome, right, and pure.
- In judgment – meaning that God will never act selfishly, but will always do that which is just and fair.
- In lovingkindness – meaning that God will never be harsh, but will always respond out of love and genuine concern.
- In mercies – meaning that God will consider her weaknesses and treat her with compassion and tenderness.
- In faithfulness – meaning that God will never cease loving her, or cast her aside for another.
Years before, God had pledged to be all these things toward His beloved. Now, He was telling Israel that nothing had changed. She was still the object of his undying love. She may have been broken and "used up" as far as the world was concerned, but she was still the apple of His eye.
- The value of brokenness
Brokenness always leads to a deeper appreciation of God’s faithfulness. We realize that in our infidelity, He remained faithful. Although we at times gave up on Him, He never gave up on us. We come to realize that we are, and always have been, totally loved and accepted by Him. How foolish we are to allow our hearts to seek satisfaction from any other source! He asks us to submit to Him, to recognize the exclusive right and responsibility He has to meet our every need, knowing that He IS righteous, just, loving, merciful, and faithful. He will never do that which is wrong, selfish, harsh, or unloving. And He will always be faithful.
- A New Prosperity (21-23)
- God promises to be the Source and Sustainer of Israel’s life.
- He promises that heaven and earth will cooperate to provide corn, oil, and wine – symbols of the staples of life.
- He promises to sow the land with people, every one the object of his mercy and love.
- On that day, Israel will know that everything she receives comes from the hand of God and everything that she is she owes to the work of God.
- Brokenness always opens the door for us to receive the super-abundant blessings of God.
- God has promised us life more abundantly. John 10:10
- God desires that our joy shall be full. John 16:24
- He has promised to freely give us all things. Romans 8:31-32
- God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we can ask or imagine. Ephesians 4:20
- BUT, God can do none of these things as long as we look to be satisfied in life from any other source.
Being broken is a painful process. But God only breaks us so that He can bless us. The process of brokenness will stop, and the blessings begin, the instant that we abandon our fleshly resources and submit to God’s will – allowing Him to be God, the Source and Sustainer of our lives, the one who exclusively meets our every need.