Articles 8391363514_afb93e867f_z

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.

  • Emma

    Great article! It is a great reminder. Thanks for writing! :)

  • Brock

    This article is great! Thanks for this beautiful piece of writing. 😀

    • Thank you for your encouraging words! It is my pleasure to share it with you guys!

  • Haven Asnip

    Wow… This is beautiful (: Thank you so much for writing this!
    I am Israel too.

    • Thank you! I think we really all are Israel, if we humble ourselves and confess it.

      • Haven Asnip

        true (:

  • Rachel M.

    Great article! What powerful three words. Three words that have made me really think about my relationship with God have been: I’m a Pharisee. I act hypocritical. My thoughts of others seem to sometimes be that I am better than them because I know more about God and His Word. That is a horrible attitude to have, and I am trying to get better. This article really helped me put some other things into perspective and encourage me to grow closer to God. Thank you for writing this!

    • Rachel, I am so glad that you enjoyed reading it. Thank you for reading it and for your insightful response! I pray that God may change your Pharisaical tendencies. Those are hard things to change, but God is with you on this :-)

  • Angela Pycroft

    Wow! Thanks for posting this, Christian! What a meaningful passage;and so relevant too!!

    • Thank you for your encouraging words, Angela! I appreciate that you took the time to read it :-)

  • This is such a powerful piece. Thank you for writing!

  • Wow this really hit me hard. Thanks so much for writing this. I have been feeling the same way often. Amen that we have a God who is gracious enough to forgive us over and over again!

    • Thank you for reading it, Ashley. Thank God for forgiveness and grace…because we are all so broken and in desperate need of it. :-)

  • Hayley

    Wow. You have a way with words Christian. I’m speechless. This hit hard … thank you for writing this. So incredibly thankful for God’s forgiveness!!


    • Hayley, thank you for your encouraging words! It was my pleasure to share this piece with you.

  • Katherine Forster

    Thank you so much for writing this! Yes, this is exactly what I have been feeling lately. I just read Hosea and it was such an encouraging reminder of what our God has done and keeps doing for us. Keep pressing on to know Him more!

    • Katherine, Hosea is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Such a stunning picture of God’s undying, unconditional love for us bluntly contrasted with our sinful, unrepentant lives. Thank you for reading it :-)

  • Great article!! How true. Often I think we think about how dumb the Israelites were to constantly forget God and disobey. But that is when we forget that we do the same thing.

    • Delaney, that’s exactly it. We can point out the speck in the eyes of others, but if we are willing to humbly examine our own lives, we see that we are guilty of the same things and sometimes worse. Thank you for reading :-)

      • 😄 thank you for writing!

  • This is soooo compelling and beautifully written!

    • Thank you! I really appreciate you taking the time to read it :-)

  • Also, to update the bio…I am seventeen now, attending college, and still the son of a pastor and seeking to serve Christ in a world that is so adverse to Him. I love to read, write, and work at my job at an elementary school after-school program. I’m so thankful to be able to share this article with you all and am greatly encouraged by all of your comments. I pray that God may use this article to accomplish whatever He wills. Thanks guys and if you comment I promise I will do my best to respond in a timely manner!

  • Jo S.

    This. It’s amazing and really makes me think. Thank you!

  • Andrew

    I, too, am Israel.
    I find myself constantly taken aback at how true that is. I read things in Isaiah, or in Joel, where they talk about how israel was a young virgin, whoring after other men (idols) and abandoning her first love (God). How often I have thrown myself to worthless things, allowed them to envelope my mind and drain my attention and affection. I have been the filthy wretch, lying in the street naked and alone.

    And then I lift my eyes, and see my first love, come to cover me up, and take me home with Him. and… I don’t want to leave Him. I never want to bow to any of the idols again. And yet, i still feel them calling me. Oh, that my Lord would deliver me from these temptations! from these vile beasts that seek to drag me away and devour me, only to spit me out again.

    • Andrew, check out Jeremiah 30 & 31. We are Israel. We have been adulterous and played the whore…but note how in these chapters God says “O virgin Israel”…when His redemption comes and alters our life drastically, it is not just a covering of sin. It is a total eradication. We have been adulterous, but God has not just forgiven us…He has made us virgins once more. He has brought us back into His family.

      Amen to all that you said. I will pray for you.

      • Andrew

        Wow… I’d never noticed that, that He calls her “Virgin”. That, actually really incredible and encouraging!

        And I’ve only now realised that We are part of Israel in actuality! Romans 9:8 says, “So it is not the children of the flesh who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as offspring.”

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