6.25 Hosea -- The Fate of Israel
If the covenant relationship is like a marriage, so the Lord is like a jealous husband. Hosea’s depiction of God is shocking in this regard, because He is all over the place, like a distraught person riding an emotional roller coaster, or like someone bipolar. Consider these not-very-logical progressions:
-- I will no longer love you (Hos 1:6) – You are not My wife, and I will turn you into a desert (Hos 2:2-3) – I will allure you in the desert until you call Me husband, and I will betroth you to Me forever (Hos 2:14-19) – I will drive you out and no longer love you (Hos 9:15).
-- You aren’t My people and I’m not your God (Hos 1:9) – In the very place where you were told you weren’t My people, you’ll be called My sons (Hos 1:10) – I won’t love your children because they’re children of adultery (Hos 2:4) – I will show My love, I will call you My people, and I will be your God (Hos 2:23) – If you rear children, I’ll kill every one (Hos 9:12-16) – When you were a child, I loved you and taught you to walk (Hos 11:1-3).
-- What can I do with you? (Hos 6:4) – Destruction to you, though I long to redeem you (Hos 7:13) – My anger burns against you (Hos 8:5) – I will remember and punish (Hos 9:9) – How can I give you up? My heart is changed, My compassion aroused; I won’t carry out My anger (Hos 11:8-9) – You are destroyed (Hos 13:9) – I will ransom you from the power of the grave (Hos 13:14) – I will have no compassion (Hos 13:14) – I will heal your waywardness and love you freely, because My anger has turned away (Hos 14:4) – I will answer you and care for you (Hos 14:8).
-- Israel has been rejected, but Judah will still be loved and saved (Hos 1:6-7) – Israel is guilty (with idolatrous sites like Gilgal and Bethel 4:15, 9:15) – Israel and Judah both stumble, and both will be judged (Hos 5:5, Hos 5:10-14; Hos 10:11; Hos 11:12; Hos 12:2).
-- The Lord will put an end to Israel (Hos 1:4) – Israel will be great, reunited, uncountable (Hos 1:10-11) – The Lord, like a lion, will tear both kingdoms (Hos 5:14; Hos 13:7-8) – The Lord will not devastate, but He will roar like a lion, and His people will return from exile and seek Him (Hos 11:9-11).
It is not that Hosea contradicts himself in these sayings, because he is not presenting a logical argument. This is a Lover’s plea, addressed to the heart more than the head. As Hosea experienced these conflicting feelings towards Gomer in the course of his marriage, so God struggled within Himself about what to do with Israel. In a sense, Hosea is a window into the heart of God Himself -- past the holiness, the glory, the transcendence. It is a different kind of revelation entirely: Israel shows the vulnerability of God, because He chose to love these wayward people!