"Exceedingly, Abundantly, Above"
God's True Love For His People
"My God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we can ask, hope or think," is a very popular scripture among church folk, but I am not sure that God's people have grasped the full impact of what it means.
While it may mean wealth to many people, "Exceedingly abundantly above" are three words that describe something other than wealth. They describe something beyond the natural and ordinary. They are characteristic of those things we are incapable of doing or possessing on our own. More importantly, they illustrate the magnitude of God's amazing love for His chosen people.
Consider the story of Hosea and Gomer. To the carnal mind, Gomer was not a candidate for marriage, nor did she deserve to love or have that love returned. She was a harlot; a disgrace, and an outcast who didn't deserve to be forgiven. According to the natural law, she was worthy of being stoned to death.
While stoning Gomer may have satisfied the lawgivers of Hosea's time, God had another agenda in mind. Seeing beyond the mini skirt, lipstick, eye shadow, long nails and worshipping of idols, was the Lord who loved Gomer (Israel) exceedingly.
She didn't deserve to be forgiven, but the love of God, which vindicates us "abundantly and above" all that we can hope or imagine, constrained Hosea to buy back his unfaithful bride.
In order to understand the enormity of God's love and forgiveness, it is important to note that Gomer's adultery (Israel's idolatry) made a divorce spiritually legal. But God did not advocate Hosea putting away his wife. Why? Because God's mercy transcends the natural law. " For what the law could not do in that it is was weak through the flesh, God sent his only Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, he condemned it and vindicated us" Romans 8:3 (paraphrased)
It was the unconditional love of God that instructed Hosea to go down to the Red Light district of town and buy back the woman who broke the promises she vowed to keep. Like any other warm-blooded creature, Hosea thought to himself, "How can I trust her again? Can I find it in myself to forgive and forget?"
I'm sure that there were religious folk in Hosea's time, just as there are today, who shunned Gomer and argued that Hosea should have left her down there. After all, she deserved it. Well guess what church folks; we are no different than Gomer.
Her actions are symbolic of Israel's worship of the Baal's who she believed provided her with crops, flocks, and prosperity. The Lord said of Israel, " She did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil. It was I (the Lord) who lavished upon her the silver and gold that she used for Baal." Hosea 2:8 God's blessings did not bring Israel closer to Him. Instead, she gave to credit to Baal and went whoring after him.
Maybe we are not out on the street corner, but we too, have committed spiritual adultery. Anytime we make something other than God a top priority, we are cheating on Him. He is the Man who picks us up out of our messes only to watch us continually fall back in. It is He who must buy us back from the many things that separates us and breaks our spiritual covenant with Him.
Hosea was expected to love Gomer in spite of who she was. He had to see beyond her addiction and her occupation. When the people around her were ready to throw in the towel, God told Hosea, "Don't give up on her, because I'm not giving up on Israel. She is more than what she appears to be. There is something Hosea beyond her exterior. Go back again and get her. Buy her back. I know she left you and broke the sacred covenant you both shared, but buying her back is an act of grace."
It is in buying her Hosea, that you will truly grasp how much I loved Israel. Going to get her is what "exceedingly" truly means. The world won't be able to see nor will they understand why you are doing it, but they didn't understand Me either.
"I love Israel, she is my bride. I know she betrayed me and defiled what was once clean and pure, but I love her anyway. My actions may appear irrational to some people and they will question my motives. Your so-called friends will question your motives also, but do it anyway. I can instruct you, Hosea, because I see beyond what this world sees. They see who Gomer is now, but I know who she will become."
In My eyes, Gomer is as an over-comer. She is a vessel, and a warrior. Even though she has wallowed in the pits of life and tasted of this world's bitterness, you must forgive and forget. Go back and get her! Buy back the one you once loved. It's hard Hosea and may even seem impossible, but being exceedingly, abundantly, and above means you must do it.
Another task that will be difficult is that you must treat Gomer like a wife. Don't remind her of what she has done. Embrace her and lavish all the love you have upon her. Only then will you understand how I felt as I watched my beloved Israel selling herself to idols. Hosea, when the love you feel is so deep that you are unmoved by what others are saying, it is then that you understand the sacrifice I made for her. "I will allure her (Israel) and bring her back into the wilderness, and I will speak tenderly and to her heart." Hosea 2:14
If these words spoken by God to Hosea seem foreign or senseless to you, and you are having a problem understanding how a man could love a woman who has cheated on him with not just one man, but many men, then you are unaware of God's abundant love.
As I began to study the story of Hosea and Gomer, I began to grasp the true depth of God's love. In spite of Israel's infidelity, God would not abandon her. As I continued to read the story, I was reminded of what a noted author once said about the grace of God. In his book entitled, "What's So Amazing About Grace", Philip Yancey notes, "There is nothing we can do to make God stop loving us."
According to Hosea, we note that God was angry with his people and they suffered the consequences for their sins, but God continued to pursue Israel in the hope of reestablishing their "love" relationship.
So it is with us. We ignore God and deliberately do what is contrary to His will thus destroying our communion with Him. It is we who have separated ourselves from God. Just as Hosea repeatedly searched out his unfaithful bride, God searches for us and speaks "tenderly" to us in the hope that we will return to Him.
I love the term "allure" in the 14th verse of the second chapter of Hosea. It is a sensuous, enticing word. God does not force us nor does he run shod over our choices. God desires that we desire Him! Therefore, he allures us.
The apostle Paul came to this conclusion also in the book of Romans 3:25: "God has provided a demonstration of his love for us by sending His Son..." The story of Hosea and Gomer has a happy ending. They are reunited, and their children's names are given new meaning. One of the meanings referred to the Israelites in that they were no longer "Not My People." Rather, they are God's chosen ones.
Exceedingly, Abundant, Above does not only means prosperity. It refers to "God's Love" also. In fact, it is because of His love that we possess abundance.
Travestine J. Wright