Swallowed Up, Yet Led with Cords of Kindness

from Lynda Lindsey

Israel is swallowed up; now she is among the nations like a worthless thing. Hosea 8:8

It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.  Hosea 11:3-4

The Lord God Almighty, the Lord is His name of renown! But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always. Hosea 12:5-6

Leading strings (cords) have existed from long ago; while they have looked different in various times, all have the same purpose: they keep a baby from wandering away and offer some support while he learns to walk. Leading strings have been as simple as ropes with knots tied at intervals, or strips of fabric sewn into the sleeves of the child’s garment which the caretaker holds in each hand, or loose strips of fabric, one end for the child, one for the caretaker. Preschools use a modern version of bright colored rings sewn onto a heavy cord. Each child holds a ring; one teacher leads and another follows, watching for strays. 

Leading strings picture the way God loves us. Patiently, tenderly, God leads us with cords of kindness and ties of love. God nurtures and feeds us. He leads us, all the while teaching us to walk obediently with Him, to follow in His footsteps. He heals our brokenness; He removes our yoke of sin and bondage. God, in His lovingkindness, grace and mercy, loves us extravagantly; but at the same time, God’s justice demands sin be judged. Yet even God’s discipline is redemptive, meant to bring us back into relationship with Him when we stray. 

The northern kingdom of Israel continually spurned God’s offer of repentance and was swallowed up by Assyria. A people whose purpose was to bring salvation to the world was tossed aside as something worthless. Almost a century and a half later the southern kingdom was taken into exile in Babylon. The northern kingdom suffered total destruction, but faithful God preserved a remnant from Judah, brought them back to Jerusalem, and through this remnant Messiah would come. We, like Israel, sometimes allow sin to swallow us up in worthlessness.  Do what Israel refused. Repent. Return to the Lord God Almighty. Wait submissively before Him. And then, rejoice, because He will once again lead you with cords of kindness. Count on it!