Published on December 2nd, 2016 | by Christian Hanna

I am Israel: Stubborn and Rebellious, Yet Redeemed by Grace

I am Israel.

An interesting statement. One that I scribbled in the margin of my Bible just over a year ago after reading a passage over and over and over again. The thin lines of ink seeping into the paper to form those words are written with tears. Tears of joy, of anger, of sorrow, of hurt. The pen pressed hard against the paper to write those three powerful words.

I am Israel.

Perhaps this sentence would make no sense to the common passerby, strolling by—window shopping on Facebook or Twitter. Perhaps it would prompt the very intellectual to consider the meaning and validity of the statement. It is not intellectual, though. That sentence is a very personal statement—one that I still tear up at, one whole year after writing it.

I am Israel.

Psalm 78. The purpose of this psalm is so that we will “set our hope in God and not forget the works of God” (vs.7). I think that as you take my hand and journey along the rocky shores of this passage, you may just so happen to find…that you are Israel.

If you think I am crazy, or you do not believe me, just wait. Take a glance at the highlights of this chapter:

“…A stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.” – vs. 8

“They did not keep God’s covenant, but refused to walk according to His law. They forgot His works and the wonders that He had shown them.” – vs. 10-11

“They did not believe in God and did not trust his saving power.” – vs. 22

“In spite of all [God’s works], they still sinned; despite his wonders, they did not believe.” – vs. 32

“When he killed them, they sought him; they repented and sought God earnestly. They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer. But they flattered him with their tongues. Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant. Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath.” – vs. 34-38

Stop. No more. This cuts deep, but when the cut heals, we are better than we were before it. These verses have shown so true in my life—painfully true. I have been and often am stubborn and rebellious. Though time after time, God has proven himself to be sovereign, amazing, and more than enough, I have forgotten. In spite of his works, I have still sinned.

Then, when trouble came, and I suffered the consequences and repented. I sought God earnestly, but for how long? I did not remain steadfast, but returned to sinful ways. Yet time and time again, God has rescued me, forgiven me, and chased me down to bring me back. Is this the case for you too?

I am Israel.

What did I say was the purpose of this Psalm? So that we can “set [our] hope in God and not forget the works of God” (vs. 7). I am Israel. One year ago, I was looking back on the hardest months and years of my life. It is not a bad thing to be Israel, despite what the verses I chose may seem to imply.

It means that I am broken. I have messed up in so many ways, but God is always there to receive me again. To take me into his loving arms and tell me that He forgives me. Like Hosea, He chases after me when I leave. He redeems me. He. Loves. Me.

After all I have done, after all the places I have been, after what I have said, what I have thought, and the things I should have done but didn’t. He tells me in His word, “I love you. I forgive you. You are mine, and I am yours.”

I am Israel.

In the past year, I have grown spiritually—now I look at that passage and thank God, remembering what He has done for me. I am not perfect and never will be even close, but I am learning more and more each day that even though I am Israel, God is God and that will always be enough for my failures. To quote my best friend, my sin is no match for His grace.

I am Israel.

Maybe, just maybe…you are too.

I am Israel.

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Photo courtesy of ninelittlebirds and Flickr Creative Commons.


About the Author

is a seventeen year-old blogger, novelist, and pastor's son who struggles with every temptation common to teenagers but is seeking to glorify God in everything. He spends his time writing for and co-directing "The Heart of Teens", playing various musical instruments, and working at an elementary school after-school program.

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