“And My People Are Bent To Backsliding From Me.”
“And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.” (Hosea 11:7)
There is a vast difference in merely reading a passage of scripture and in knowing the truth contained therein, even though the scripture be directly the language of God. Mere reading it is not the knowledge of the truth that it contains. We, of course, are ready to acknowledge that it is truth because it is scripture and double ready because it is the very language of God; but the question is how do we know?
“And my people are bent to backsliding from me.” Now, if I am what I have hope and professed to be, I know this text to be the very truth, not because I have read it in the scriptures, no, but because I feel it in the very depth of my soul. There is a battle raging within Israel, (in the child of promise), there is tearing down, destruction and death, the dark hissing waves of despair are raising higher and higher, the pangs of hell with icy grip seem to be devouring the soul. With this experimental knowledge of our self it is then easy to know that the above scripture is the truth: for we have the experience of Paul when he remarked, “The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh and these are contrary the one to the other, and ye cannot do the thing that ye would.” (Galatians 5:17). Israel has always rebelled against God in so much that David said, “For in thy sight shall no man living be justified,” and the LORD said, “Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit.”
Ancient Israel made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their understating, all of it the work of the craftman. Are we less guilty than they? For myself, I plead guilty, for I am bent to backsliding from the LORD. We often wonder how that Israel could have doubted the miracles of the LORD which were wrought in their very presence. How could they doubt God and make them molten images after beholding the face of Moses, after he had been talking with God and returned to them and his face shown so brightly that he had to put a veil over his face? But I know now by experience how this all came about, for do I not see the same and yet do? I make molten images and worship false gods! I do not see the face of ancient Moses but I see and behold the likeness of Christ in the face of my brother, especially when they are preaching the gospel of Christ my Saviour, and it is the same evidence to me that the face of Moses was to ancient Israel, and I think for the time that I will never make and worship anymore idol gods, but soon, oh, too soon, I find myself again and again building up alters to false gods, and thereby I feel to know by experience that the language of God is true when he said, “My people are bent to backsliding from me.”
We likewise feel to know that His language, recorded in 14 chapter of the same book and 4th verse is also truth when He said: “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely; for mine anger is turned away from them. I will be as the dew unto Israel, he shall grow as the lily.” The question might be asked, was God under any obligations to heal their backslidings and love them freely? By experience we will answer, no. Isaiah says, “This people have I formed for myself they shall show my promise.” So one day we are on the mountain top, the next day down in the dark and dismal valley of despair, one hour we are praising and exalting the name of Jesus, the next hour we would not have our thoughts known for the whole world, because of their wicked and ungodly nature. No wonder we are made to exclaim, “O wretched man that I am!” Our life is a mystery and we of all creation would be most miserable if it were not for the sweet and comforting word, mercy. “God be merciful to me a sinner,” is the prayer of your unworthy brother. I do not pray this prayer, it is prayed or formed within me. I hope it is the Spirit of Christ in a poor sinner making intercession in groanings which are not uttered in audible language. I have scribbled these few lines to try to ease a troubled mind, and hope, if they should be published, they may strike a responsive chord in the soul of some of God’s poor and afflicted people.
Yours in bonds of love, Walker B. Dodd, Pilot, Virginia – 1914