Hosea 5:14-15 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a great lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces and go away; I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them. Then I will return to my lair until they have borne their guilt and seek my face.
God compared himself to a ferocious lion that would tear his people to pieces. His purpose was not merely to punish, however, but also to restore. [I]n their misery they will earnestly seek me (Hosea 5:15b), he said.
A survey was given to hundreds of Christians to help discover the most effective means of spiritual growth. Prayer, Bible study and church were the expected answers. But the most effective means of spiritual growth for those who were surveyed was pain. God wants his people to grow through prayer, Bible study and church, but he also uses suffering. Whenever God allows us to suffer, we should use our suffering, to turn us more fully to him.
Hosea 6:4 Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears.
God complained that his people’s love was fleeting. They would make an occasional effort, but it never seemed to last. They would make promises, but not keep them. They had good intentions, but would not follow through. Their devotion to God was inconsistent, and their love was unreliable.
A certain man was on trial for a serious crime. I went to court with him and heard him pray as never before. He received a minimal sentence, for which he was extremely thankful. But as soon as his life was stable again he drifted away from God. Our love for God should not be like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears.
Hosea 7:2 [T]hey do not realize that I remember all their evil deeds.
Whoever thinks they are good enough for God needs to be informed that he remembers all their evil deeds. If we only sin three times a day, that is over a thousand sins per year. Imagine standing before God with over fifty thousand sins! We soon forget our little sins, but God remembers every one—unless we believe in Jesus Christ.
For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more (Hebrews 8:12), says Hebrews. God remembers all our sins, or none of our sins. We are either completely forgiven, or completely unforgiven. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already (John 3:18), wrote John. We should never think that we are good enough for God because we are better than other sinners, but only because we believe in his one and only Son.
Hosea 9:9 They have sunk deep into corruption.
The nation of Israel was guilty of idolatry, immorality, materialism, injustice and many other sins. They should have been a model of righteousness, but became a model of wickedness. Like falling into quicksand, they sank deep into corruption.
Children get a taste of corruption, and quickly develop an appetite for more. Puberty accelerates the process, and we are proficient by adulthood. The tendency of sinners is not toward ever-increasing righteousness, but ever-increasing wickedness (Romans 6:19), wrote Paul. Unless the process is reversed, we will continue to spiral down. Hell is full of moral monsters who used to be beautiful children.
Hosea 13:14 I will deliver this people from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?
When a body is laid in a grave and covered with dirt, that is where it usually stays. But not always. Christ defeated death, and will raise those who believe in him to everlasting glory.
A seventy-three year old farmer in Kenya was tending his bean crop when he was attacked by a hungry leopard. This would signal the end for most people, but the farmer fought back. He thrust his hand into the leopard’s mouth, ripped out its tongue, and watched it die in its own blood.
Likewise, Christ went into the jaws of death and killed it by his resurrection. I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live (John 11:25), he said. And, thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57), wrote Paul. Hosea caught a glimpse of this centuries in advance.
Hosea 13:6 When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.
Prosperity should result in gratitude, and bring us closer to God, but it often has the opposite effect. [W]hen they eat their fill and thrive, they will turn to other gods (Deuteronomy 31:20), wrote Moses. And, the deceitfulness of wealth choke[s] the word, making it unfruitful (Matthew 13:22), said Jesus. Everyone wants more money, but it’s not always very good for us.
Missionaries have noticed that wherever the gospel goes, life tends to improve. Children are clothed, roofs are fixed, and people go to work. Obeying God’s word normally leads to greater prosperity than disobeying God’s word.
But missionaries have also noticed that, after growing prosperous, God’s people may drift away from him. Their newfound wealth makes them less dependent on God, and more inclined to what money can buy. Godliness gives birth to prosperity, and the daughter eats the mother. This is what happened to Israel, and it can happen to us as well.
Reflection and Review
How does suffering help us turn to God?
Why do people sink into corruption?
Is it possible to have too much money?