Focal Passages: Hosea 13:4-6; 14:1-9
In Hosea 13 the threat of death, especially as punishment for idolatry, is the horrifying reality that the people faced. Imagine the shame and guilt that would have landed on the shoulders of God’s people when the words of Hosea were dropped on them.
The verdict was in. God’s people had turned their worship toward man-made gods and refused to repent. By their stubborn refusal to return to the one true living God, Israel had abandoned all hope from a human perspective.
As so many times before, God shows his compassion and longsuffering toward His stubborn people. We see over and over in the Old Testament, God’s people turn from Him.
Then the prophets cry out, “Return to the Lord your God.” They eventually repent, but later fall away again. Israel’s vicious cycle of sin and idolatry is exhausting.
But God is always in redeeming pursuit of His people. In Hosea 14 God allures His people with promises of healing and love.
Consider the power of God’s grace as it breaks through the darkness of the shame and guilt of idolatry. This power is seen most clearly on the cross of Jesus. Jesus consumed the wrath of God against sin – along with its accompanying guilt and shame – so that we, God’s wayward people, could return to God. The vicious cycle seen in Israel, and in ourselves, ended on the cross of Christ. And the promises of flourishing were finally established in Jesus’ resurrection.
God has made His case against sin and has offered redemption. Hosea has an apt ending, reminiscent of Jesus’ words: “those who have ears let them hear.” Hosea leaves the hearer with an obligation to respond.
“The ways of the Lord are right and the upright walk in them.” This is a call for repentance and faithfulness.