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In You the Orphan Finds Mercy

by Dave Cruver Published Jul 21, 2011

“In God the orphan finds mercy” is such a comforting thought. There is great hope for the orphan.

The book of Hosea, in which this statement is made, is a plea for Israel to repent from being unfaithful to God. Hosea describes this unfaithfulness in various ways — a promiscuous wife, an illegitimate child, an ungrateful son, and even as grapes in the wilderness. Although the circumstantial details are sparse, Hosea’s desire was to see Israel turn back to Jehovah.

So why, in the midst of a plea for Israel to return to God does Hosea state, “In you the orphan finds mercy”?

Two verses earlier, Hosea exhorts Israel, “Return, O Israel, to the LORD (Jehovah) your God,” and again in verse 2, “return to the LORD (Jehovah).” Jehovah is a covenant-keeping God and desires His people to enjoy the privileges of covenant community. The people of Israel, however, are acting as if they are outside the covenant community and outside of God’s grace — in sin.

And it is this “acting outside the covenant” that is the thrust of verse 3 — Anyone who acts as if they are outside of God’s covenant community is an orphan. In other words, this person is profoundly alone.

Hosea then exhorts the people of Israel to trust Jehovah rather than man or even the works of their own hands; but more so, he exhorts them to stop calling the works of their hands, “our God” (verse 3). Hosea’s giving us a look at what a spiritual orphan does: he treats good things as ultimate things. A spiritual orphan is a person who looks to idols for satisfaction but finds none. As a result, he or she is profoundly alone — outside the covenant community.

It is only when Israel repents from sin and turns back to Jehovah that God will show mercy to the spiritual orphan. God asks Israel, “O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols?”, and He answers, “It is I who answer and look after you.”

It is God who answers and looks after Israel. An idol will not answer nor will it look after them.

When God answers and looks after Israel, they receive community and fellowship and the benefits of covenant community with the covenant-keeping God, Jehovah — healing, being loved freely, and God’s anger turned away from them (v. 4). God becomes like the dew, quenching their thirst, and Israel will blossom as the lily (all are prized for their beauty), and Israel will take root as the trees in Lebanon (v. 5). As the ESV Study Bible explains, “Biblical authors regularly celebrate the trees of Lebanon (especially cedars) as the most majestic” (e.g., Ps. 104:16).

Israel’s shoots shall spread out depicting God’s kingdom expanding, its beauty shall be like the olive which is seen as a symbol of strength and prosperity, and its fragrance like Lebanon (v. 6).

All of this in Hosea 14 reminds me of Jesus words to his disciples in John 14:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans [i.e., "I will not leave you alone"]; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.’ 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?’ 23 Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.’”

Do you see what Jesus is saying? God, in Jesus by the Spirit, will not leave us as orphans (i.e., alone).

All those who are united to Jesus by faith are loved by the Father. God the Father actively loves and fully accepts all those who are in Christ. We are no longer alone when we are united to Jesus by faith. This is good news because in Christ spiritual orphans find mercy. If you are looking for motivation to care for earthly orphans (i.e., those who are profoundly alone), recall and rehearse the good news of what God has done for us in and through Jesus and the Spirit.

Thank you for reading. Please check out Together for Adoption’s new book, which is available for purchase at Amazon, Cruciform Press, and elsewhere.

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