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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Hosea, Day 23: Hosea 13 - Why is God Our Only Savior?

Why is God Our Only Savior? 

But I am the Lord your God
    from the land of Egypt;
you know no God but me,
    and besides me there is no savior.
It was I who knew you in the wilderness,
    in the land of drought;
but when they had grazed, they became full,
    they were filled, and their heart was lifted up;
    therefore they forgot me.
So I am to them like a lion;
    like a leopard I will lurk beside the way.
I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs;
    I will tear open their breast,
and there I will devour them like a lion,
    as a wild beast would rip them open.

He destroys you, O Israel,
    for you are against me, against your helper.
Where now is your king, to save you in all your cities?
    Where are all your rulers—
those of whom you said,
    “Give me a king and princes”?
I gave you a king in my anger,
    and I took him away in my wrath.

The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up;
    his sin is kept in store.
The pangs of childbirth come for him,
    but he is an unwise son,
for at the right time he does not present himself
    at the opening of the womb.

I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol;
    I shall redeem them from Death.
O Death, where are your plagues?
    O Sheol, where is your sting?
- Hosea 13:4-14, ESV

What is a savior?

Yesterday, the San Diego Padres agreed to pay Manny Machado $300 million to play baseball. Why? Because the team is hoping the superstar player will be the savior of a franchise that has not made the playoffs since 2006. Meanwhile, Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon is being hailed as the savior of the brand-new Alliance of American Football, having invested $250 million in the new league.

In the ancient world, gods were seen as saviors because they were thought to provide the things people needed to live: Baal, the storm god, sent the rain. Ashera, the fertility goddess, provided abundant crops and children. Other gods were seen as saviors because they could stop plagues or locust swarms.

Yet God says to Israel, "I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me,     and besides me there is no savior."  Here's what we need to see: What was true for ancient Israel is just as true for us today.

Believers today are constantly tempted to assign a limited role to God in our lives and our salvation and to look to other so-called gods and saviors for the things we really want and think we need. We'll trust God for the forgiveness of our sins and for our future in heaven, but we will look to the world for money, food, pleasure, entertainment, etc.

The problem for ancient Israel and the problem for us is the same, and it's a two-fold problem:

1. We're confused about what our real needs are. So, we think we need all sorts of things that we don't really need. Modern advertising and our instant-gratification society have only made our natural impatient selfishness even worse.

2. We forget who supplies all of our real needs and who gives us everything good in life and in eternity. So, we think we get some things for ourselves, the world gives us some other things, and then God gives us some eternal, spiritual things - like forgiveness and heaven. But that's not what God says. He gives us everything good, in life and in eternity. We have nothing good but what He has provided.

Ultimately, our biggest needs are for our guilt to be removed and for death to be defeated. The biggest problem all human beings face is death, and death is a big problem because of sin. If we keep this reality front and center in our thinking, it helps bring perspective to our daily concerns and it helps us remember that only God can solve our biggest problems and thus meet our greatest needs. And He has done so gloriously in His Son, Jesus Christ, who is our forgiveness and who is the overthrowing conqueror of death.

The next time you worry or are anxious, remember how much God was willing to sacrifice to solve your greatest problems and meet your greatest needs. Then, reject the false promises of a fallen world and trust every care you have to Him alone!

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