A Tale of Holy Love, Unfaithfulness, Justice, Mercy, and Grace
Throughout Scripture the image of a vessel is used symbolically and metaphorically. It denotes a thing of utility, and a good vessel is the masterpiece of an expert potter. In the New Testament, we are called jars of clay or earthen vessels which house the Spirit of the living God, making us valuable and ones for honorable use. However, Israel is called the complete opposite.
“Israel is swallowed up; already they are among the nations as a useless vessel.”
A useless vessel. That’s a strong word against Israel, especially since God was saying that among all the nations He found Israel to be useless, worthless, or of no special value! But how did they come to this place? How did they go from being God’s special people to useless vessels? Pride and rebellion.
Israel’s wayward heart and stubborn refusal to acknowledge their guilt and return to the Lord made them unfit vessels to serve the Lord, thus making them useless and worthless. What a sad end for God’s special people! And we definitely don’t want the same to be spoken of us! So what measures can we take to prevent a repeat of Israel’s dismal history? What are some lessons and take-a-ways we can glean from Israel’s mistakes?
Well, we’ve already journeyed through a good amount of God’s controversy with Israel, however, there are two reasons listed in Hosea 7 that I believe shed some light on where Israel went wrong.
“Israel has spurned the good; the enemy shall pursue him. They made kings, but not through me.”
1. “They made kings, but not through me.” They decided to build their own kingdom without the help or blessing of God. The precedent in Israel for the appointing of kings was for God to choose the ruler and a prophet to anoint him. However, Israel decided that they didn’t need God’s help and chose their own kings. They turned their eyes away from God and pinned all their hopes, dreams, desires, and wants on a man. Instead of trusting God for all their needs, they looked to politics.
2. “Israel has spurned the good.” They turned away from good and pursued evil. They spurned even the appearance of good or as the Hebrew word for spurned is literally translated, chose to “push aside” good. God’s Word was not the standard between right and wrong, but rather truth was relative.
A nation that has lost its moral compass and sense of right and wrong is destined for ruin and destruction. Not only will God severely judge that nation, but also the internal corruption caused by a lack of moral standards will cause it to collapse from within.
This was where Israel was, and the spiritual and moral state of the nation at the time of God’s controversy and Hosea’s ministry. No wonder God had so much to say to this wayward people!
But what about our nation? You have to admit that we’re not far behind. Morality is at an all time low, people are more confused about good versus evil than they have ever been, sin is exalted and re-termed “self-expression”, the anger and violence over political decisions reveals the pedestal the American people have put their leaders on. As a whole, we no longer look for godly characteristics in our future leaders, we do not hold true to the Christian values and system our government was built on, and we have turned away from absolute truth. Truly our nation is either right with Israel or far beyond it!
America is being a useless vessel, unfit for the Lord to use and work through. What a scary sad thought! But what can we do? As Christians redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, what action can we take to stem the tidal wave of ungodliness? How can we turn our beloved nation around?
Our country may never go back to its original values; it may never again become a Christian nation or a useful vessel. However, just because our nation isn’t following God doesn’t mean that we can’t. Just because America is a useless vessel doesn’t mean that we have to be. We might not be able to change our country on the national level, but we can transform it on the individual scale. We can examine our own lives and see if we are personally following in the wake of wayward Israel. We can guard against building an earthly kingdom through political leaders and without the help and blessing of God. We can be faithful to stand on truth and not compromise when good and evil is called into question. We can do our part and make sure that we, personally and individually, are vessels of honor, usefulness, value, and worth.
Therefore, let us heed the counsel of the Apostle Paul to his spiritual son Timothy and cleanse ourselves from all that is dishonorable that we may be set apart as holy, useful to the Master, and an honorable vessel.
“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”
~II Timothy 2:21