God used the prophet Hosea to communicate to his people that he loved them and desired a restored relationship with them. How? In a most unlikely way. God commanded Hosea to marry an unfaithful woman named Gomer. As soon as Hosea and his wife’s children were born, she prostituted herself and, in time, became enslaved. In response to God’s command, Hosea then redeemed his wife from slavery and restored her to the family. God intended this demonstration of unconditional love to symbolize his own love for the people of Israel.
God treated his people with mercy and compassion even though they rejected him and his will for them time and again. But though God was angered by the unfaithfulness of his people he never rejected them completely. Neither did he condone their sin by extending unqualified mercy. He allowed the Israelites to suffer the consequences of their disobedience. After this, however, he promised to restore them when they repented.
While the story of Hosea’s gracious love for Gomer is the story of God’s love for the wayward Israelites, it’s also the story of God’s love for you. You, too, choose the way of disobedience that leads inevitably toward suffering and exile. But as God did with Israel, he often uses the pain of exile to bring you to your senses and lead you back to him. Then, through God’s unfailing love, you can be restored and enjoy an intimate relationship with him.
The story of the prodigal son is intriguing because it mirror’s God the Father’s view of you. Like the father in the story, His eyes are always fixed on the crest of the hill, longing to see you coming over the horizon on your way home.
God isn’t the slightest bit preoccupied with whether or not you’re worthy to return to Him. He knows you’re not. Personal worth isn’t the issue at hand. The prodigal son worried about this too. He was certain that his sinful lifestyle had disqualified him’had made him unworthy of being considered his father’s son.
But the father quickly brushed all that aside. ‘What’s this talk about worthiness? You’re back! That’s what matters!’ Their relationship was restored instantly. No paybacks. No shame. No looking back.
Why? What’s Jesus’ point in telling the story? On what basis can the son return? Be careful. Ripping this story from its biblical context distorts its meaning and defuses its power.
Jesus’ point is we’re all prodigal sons. We’ve all taken from our heavenly Father’s generosity, snubbed our noses at Him, and went off to abuse His gifts’using them to cover ourselves in the pig muck of sin!
We can return to Him because we’ve been sought and found by Jesus Christ. His cross has removed everything that separated us from God the Father. So if you’re in the far country, don’t be foolish! Return to the Father through Jesus Christ today.