Am I A Heifer Or A Lamb?
Weird question, yet an important one. I started reading through the minor prophets recently and came across Hosea 4:16, from which I drew that question. Before I share that verse with you, I want to give you the context. The book of Hosea is a beautifully broken love story. God tells Hosea to marry a prostitute named Gomer. Hosea and Gomer’s marriage serves as a living illustration of God’s relationship with the Israelites. The Israelites were God’s chosen people who were deeply loved by Him. The Israelites were in a covenant relationship with God, yet they continued to act like adulterous prostitutes by worshiping the gods of their surrounding cultures. Even Israel’s priests were corrupt and were encouraging the people to sin in order make a profit by selling the sin offerings people brought to God. God’s people continued to break their covenant with God, yet God never broke His end. Just like Hosea kept loving Gomer when she continuously returned to her prior profession, God kept loving the Israelites. In fact, God loved the Israelites so much that He had to punish them for their sin. God saw the pain that their sinful choices were causing them, and He loved them too much to let them go unpunished. Violating God’s covenant relationship was doing the Israelites great harm, so God punished them for their choices.
God says in Hosea 4, “And it will be, like people, like priest; So I will punish them for their ways And repay them for their deeds. They will eat, but not have enough; They will play the harlot, but not increase, Because they have stopped giving heed to the LORD.” (Hosea 4:9-10 NASB).
Why did God have to punish the Israelites? Because they stubbornly refused to listen to His loving guidance. they stopped “giving heed to the LORD.” This brings us back to my original question. Am I a heifer or a lamb? Hosea 4:16 NASB says, “Since Israel is stubborn Like a stubborn heifer, Can the LORD now pasture them Like a lamb in a large field?”
The people of Israel chose to be heifers. They clung so tightly to their sinful thought patterns and fleshly desires that they became unteachable. Their pride controlled them so they no longer heard the Shepherd’s loving call to repentance. Like heifers who can’t be guided, they followed their own desires which lead them into dangerous and painful circumstances. I’m praying that I learn from the mistakes of the Israelites. I want to be a lamb. Lambs are moldable, teachable, and eagerly listen for the voice of the Shepherd. Humility and teachability go hand in hand. Without humility, we are unable to admit that we need guidance. However, when we choose to humble ourselves and learn, we experience the gift of God’s good guidance.
“Good and upright is the LORD; Therefore He instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way. All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.” (Psalms 25:8-10 NASB).