There are very apparent themes that run throughout the Old Testament, God’s mercy in the midst of judgment being one of them, of which the Book of Hosea is a prime example.
Briefly, the Book of Hosea gives the account of God’s pleadings with the nation of Israel during a time of grievous apostasy and subsequent malevolence on the part of the people. Along with his pleadings; which are ignored, God prophesies the ruin and fall of the unrepentant nation.
But the overriding theme, the thing of beauty, is this very clear and profound message, this note of mercy and restoration in the midst of, over and above, the message of judgment. It’s as if God is looking at the end result of what he’s after, much more than the means employed and/or the difficult process of reaching that end.
God’s love has been accurately described at times as ‘tough love’, meaning that He doesn’t overlook or excuse the sin, the wrong, the injustice, the moral degradation. He deals with it directly, often through difficult judgment but the end result, what He’s after, what He’s getting at is the righteousness, the deliverance, the promised end.
Listen to a couple of passages. In this first, God has instructed the prophet Hosea to marry a harlot and to have children of her as an illustration of how the nation has committed spiritual whoredom. Speaking of a son born to Hosea, God says:
“Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.”
“Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.”
This almost seems like a contradiction. God’s saying on the one hand ‘you are not my people’ and on the other, in the very next verse he says ‘you are the sons of the living God.’ The ‘yet’ between the two passages represents the means, the process, howbeit, often a lengthy one, God uses to reconcile the two opposites and to bring about that desired end.
In another passage after having given a thirteen verse description of the judgments and calamities which were to befall the nation, God immediately follows it with this:
“Therefore, behold, I will allure (sounds enticing) her (Israel), and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably (meaning tenderly) unto her.
“And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor (meaning ‘trouble’) for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.”
God in our afflictions, punishments and judgments can turn them into hope and rejuvenation.
“ And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi (meaning husband); and shalt call me no more Baali.”(meaning master)
All God’s dealings with man are for an appointed end. It’s as if God almost doesn’t see the judgment so much as the righteousness, the beauty, the reality, it will bring about in and for us: He’s looking unto the end result. Even Jesus looked past the agony and pain of Calvary to the ‘joy’ set before Him.
Are we not called upon to do the same?
A mini studies article from Through the Bible in 52 Weeks
Copyright © 2015 by John Hislop