By Published On: May 18th, 2022Categories: Leader Blog, Meditation for Preparation, Uncategorized0 Comments

I am listening to Hosea 7:8-10:15 over and over as I prepare this blog.  It is not easy listening.

Chapter 9: 15-17

“Because of all their wickedness in Gilgal,
    I hated them there.
Because of their sinful deeds,
    I will drive them out of my house.
I will no longer love them;
    all their leaders are rebellious.
 Ephraim is blighted,
    their root is withered,
    they yield no fruit.
Even if they bear children,
    I will slay their cherished offspring.”

                  My God will reject them
                because they have not obeyed him;
            they will be wanderers among the nations.

 

Sometimes God terrifies me.  His fury at sin and His power to destroy make me hold my breath.

I wonder if Hosea felt this terror when God originally unfolded such a distressing message to him?  As Hosea wrote down the words, did he weep?  Did he welcome the chance to blast those unruly Israelites, or did he cringe at his message, wishing it was anything else?  Did it change the way he thought about God? Was it startling to hear how God would exact full penalty upon his own chosen ones–with fire and slavery and brutal rulers, allowing the devastation of city walls and even His own temple?

Chapter 7:13

Woe to them,

    because they have strayed from me!
Destruction to them,
    because they have rebelled against me!

 

Maybe Hosea understood God’s fury.  He’d been hurt by someone.  He knew what it felt like to be discarded, betrayed.

Chapter 8:13-14

Now he will remember their wickedness
    and punish their sins:
    They will return to Egypt.
Israel has forgotten their Maker
    and built palaces;
    Judah has fortified many towns.
But I will send fire on their cities
    that will consume their fortresses.”

I have friends and family who won’t believe because of passages just like this.  They cannot reconcile a God of love with a God of wrath. Did Hosea get questions like this: “But the God of Psalm 23 is so loving.  And Psalm 139—so encouraging.  Do you really believe all this death and destruction stuff, Hosea?”

Maybe Hosea’s heart broke.  He had hoped they would listen.  He had hoped they would take the warning seriously.  He had hoped they would draw closer to God.

Because it is possible to draw near to our God, even when (maybe especially when) he does not match the Sunday School pictures of shepherds and sheep that we carry in our minds.

God is not terrifying in the way of a terrorist, plotting random monstrous acts because he’s overcome by hate.  God is terrifying in the way of the judge looking down on the guilty criminal, with the righteous power to pronounce sentence. He is terrifying in the fact that we cannot hide our evil deeds from His eyes. He is terrifying in that I know I am a serial sinner who strays and rebels just like Israel, and I know that I cannot stand under God’s scrutiny. And when I am distressed by the Lord’s vehement, angry response to the sin of His people–this is the moment the Trinity moves.

The Spirit stirs my heart to remember the cross and my Savior hanging there. I know that were it not for Jesus taking thorns and whips and nails for my own baselessness, I would be flattened by the certain punishment.  The cross was brutal, the wrath of God poured out as threatened in Hosea.  But it was poured out on Jesus.  And this is love at its purest. This is love meant to draw us close.

God does not want us to feel His anger, but He does want us to look at it.  He wants us to glory in His jealous love and in his righteous judgments.  Glory in a fearsome God whose strength is unbeatable.  No one stands in His way.  This is a side of God we need to know. We need a mighty God who deals out an awful wrath, who will one day throw evil to the ground in a stunning defeat.

Isn’t it amazing that this terrifying God is also our most powerful protector?  This kind of destruction will not be our future.  Because he keeps His promise to punish all sin, we know that He will not break His promise to accept Christ’s perfect payment. As much as we may be unsettled by reading scripture like Hosea, it is good for us to be reminded of what might have been. To think of those who have not heard yet and be driven to tell them of Jesus.

I hope God gave Hosea a vision of future readers.  I hope he knew that although Israel would not respond, it was blessed work he was doing for believers yet to come.  Maybe painful, terrifying work…but blessed.