These all promise so much but in reality never really fulfil. They fail, they break promises, they cannot be our saviour. And so we jump to the next, and the next, and the next. The pendulum swings from one side to the other, history repeats it’s own mistakes and disillusionment grows.
The elders of Israel were no different. They looked at their ageing leader, the inadequacies of his sons and the apparent success of the nations around them. They instructed Samuel, ’You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.’ (1Samuel 8:5).
‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.’ (v7-9)
You see it was the Lord who had rescued and saved this people from their oppression under the Egyptians. He had said to them then,
“I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.”’ (Exodus 6:6-8)
Israel was indeed rescued by God and eventually settled in the promised land of Canaan. With widely varying degrees of success they went through an array of Kings but Israel’s prosperity and attraction to what others had were destructive to their relationship with their saviour, their Lord, their God.
Through the prophet Hosea, God said to his people,
‘But I have been the Lord your God
ever since you came out of Egypt.
You shall acknowledge no God but me,
no Saviour except me.
I cared for you in the wilderness,
in the land of burning heat.
When I fed them, they were satisfied;
when they were satisfied, they became proud;
then they forgot me.
When we rely more upon ourselves, other people or things to give us what only God can, we are fools. And yet God in his mercy does not completely leave us to our folly, he desires that we come to our senses, to see that the ground upon which we have built our lives has an incredibly weak foundation. Yes, he may allow us to build on sand, but when he washes it away it is so that we realise the senselessness and offensiveness of our actions and acknowledge that He alone is God.
The Lord continues to speak through his messenger Hosea (v9-13),
‘You are destroyed, Israel,
because you are against me, against your helper.
Where is your king, that he may save you?
Where are your rulers in all your towns
of whom you said,
“Give me a king and princes”
So in my anger I gave you a king,
and in my wrath I took him away.
The guilt of Ephraim is stored up,
his sins are kept on record.
Pains as of a woman in childbirth come to him,
but he is a child without wisdom;
when the time arrives,
he doesn’t have the sense to come out of the womb.
What is our real hope in life? Who is it that will never fail us? None other than the eternal God who made us in his image and who knows us and all our needs. The One who has been faithful to all his promises. The One who rules with justice and righteousness. The One whose plans and purposes are good and cannot be thwarted. The One who gave of himself in mercy to save us – not from an earthly power but to redeem us from our own waywardness and rebellion against Him. Jesus came to reconcile us to God. He came to make a people for himself from the the whole world. He came to be our King.
Cameron, Corbyn, the UE, the UK, our employment, our wealth, wife, husband, child or a Vicar/Pastor are not the ultimate solution to our fundamental problem and need. You and I need to turn or re-turn to God through Jesus and receive the forgiveness, peace and joy that He alone can provide throughout life and beyond the grave. Hosea urges the people then, and us today,
Return, Israel, to the Lord your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!
Take words with you
and return to the Lord.
Say to him:
‘Forgive all our sin
and receive us graciously,
that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
Assyria cannot save us;
we will not mount war-horses.
We will never again say “Our gods”
to what our own hands have made,
for in you the fatherless find compassion.’
For those who acknowledge God and turn to Him, His glorious, life transforming promise (because Jesus would come and die for us, taking God’s wrath for our sin and giving us His righteousness) is this…
‘I will heal their waywardness
and love them freely,
for my anger has turned away from them.
We do need a King, His name is Jesus and His Kingdom will never end or suffer defeat. He is the only one in whom we ought to place our absolute faith, and He will never disappoint.