Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them (Hosea 14:10; English: 14:9).
We read here how two different kinds of people relate to God's ways: the righteous walk in them; the rebellious stumble. According to Hosea both groups live in some sort of relationship to God's ways. In fact it could be said that both groups are travelling in God's path, but the rebellious ones are having a hard time.
We may have expected Hosea to say something like the righteous live by God's ways, while the rebellious pay no attention to them. Now clearly the rebellious don't pay attention to them, and that is why they stumble. But we need to realize that their stumbling is in the context of God's ways - not somehow outside of them.
The fact is the whole creation is set up according to God's design. People who have turned their backs on God often speak of his directions as if they have been imposed upon us. While it is true that people have imposed rules and regulations upon others in the name of God, God's true directions are not unnaturally imposed upon the world. God's ways are part and parcel of the very design of his created order.
So whether or not we acknowledge or understand God's ways, we encounter them continually in our lives. Those who live in accordance to God's ways, will know his blessing. Those who consciously or unconsciously ignore them will run into great difficulty.
The two groups described here are the righteous and the rebellious. The righteous are those who properly align themselves with God's standards. By doing so they are able to live in harmony with the way God has designed life.
The rebellious are those who don't meet that standard. They live lives contrary to how life was meant to be lived. As a result they themselves can never be all they were meant to be.
By using the term "rebellious," God through Hosea makes it clear that these people are not neutral in their relationship to God. By neglecting God's ways, they are rebels. They are part of an enemy force defying the plans and purposes of God. This may sound harsh, but there is no neutrality here. This is God's world, and he has determined how life works. We must cooperate with him or face the consequences.
Those who have tried to walk in God's ways have likely discovered that it is not an easy thing to do. When it comes down to it, we are all rebels at heart. We do not possess the natural ability to live in right relationship with God. And so we stumble.
But thankfully God has provided the solution. He has done what was necessary to transform rebels like us into his friends and companions.
By trusting in the Messiah's death and resurrection we are made able to walk God's path in the way we were designed to. Through him we are transformed from stumbling rebels into the walking righteous.
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