Monday Meditation: Unplugged from Mercy

Hosea 1:6–7: Lo-Ruhama

If it wasn’t enough to hear that your firstborn son would remind you (and your nation) that your best victories were in fact great failures before God, the second child that intersects the life of Hosea would be a devastating symbol. The text is a bit more ambiguous with child number two than it was with Jezreel. In fact, it really leaves us questioning who the father is. All we get is that Gomer conceived another child and the name that God gives the second child would not be on any ones top-ten-names list.

The name is Lo-Ruhama. Or literally “No Mercy.” Again God is trying to call to Israel away from their spiritual adultery and he is doing it in the most clear and graphic terms. Here he uses this name to tell Israel that if they persist in their spiritual adultery they will not receive any mercy from God. He’s telling them that there is a line to cross, and they are on the precipice of crossing it. What God is saying to us is that spiritual adultery unplugs us from being recipients of grace.

This word for “mercy” in the Hebrew is a very motherly term. It is one of deep compassion and care. It has been stated that the word “signifies a warm compassion, a compassion which goes the second mile, which is ready to forgive sin, to replace judgment with grace.”[1] What God is saying to Israel is that this kind of compassion, mercy and love is not going to be at their disposal any longer.

Just stop and think about this for a moment. So much of our worldview and culture today says that God is always nice. He is always loving and kind and merciful and he wouldn’t hurt a fly. Yet, here we have a set of Biblical data that tells us that impression isn’t always true. God’s patience will run out, his mercy will come to and end and his compassion towards rebellious, adulterous people will reach a limit. This should cause us to think very soberly about out lives. Are we presuming upon the mercy of God thinking that we can live however we like without any consequence?

Peter hints on this in 2 Peter 3 where he warns us that those who mock God be judged. Right now God waits and is being patient so that we will repent, but there will come a time when his patience will end and His justice will be revealed. This has to lead us to ask, are we wearing out His patience by our spiritual adultery? Are you living in such a way as to give lip service, or shows of spirituality, to God but in reality you’re playing the harlot?

Paul writes in Romans 2, “Do you suppose, O man that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”[2] Spiritual adultery will put you on the outside of God’s compassion and mercy. Just as God told Israel, “no mercy”, so he warns us. The result of spiritual adultery is forfeiting the mercy of God.

Yet God’s mercy is still available. Instead of presuming upon God’s mercy today let us repent of our spiritual adulteries. Let us turn away from our sins and believe the good news that Jesus was the one forsaken and given “no-mercy” for us. He is the one who took the full weight of the wrath of God on our behalf. Let us flee from our sin and embrace the One who is the Mercy of God, Jesus! If we would continue to persist in spiritual adultery we will experience the forfeiting of God’s mercy. If we run to Jesus in repentance and faith we will find we can never exhaust his mercy!

  1. VanGemeren, Willem A., ed. The New International Dictionary Of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis. Accordance electronic ed., version 2.0. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997.  ↩
  2. Romans 2:4  ↩