Judgment is at Hand

Hosea 5

“Hear this, you priests!
Pay attention, you Israelites!
Listen, royal house!
This judgment is against you:
You have been a snare at Mizpah,
a net spread out on Tabor.
The rebels are knee-deep in slaughter.
I will discipline all of them.
I know all about Ephraim;
Israel is not hidden from me.
Ephraim, you have now turned to prostitution;
Israel is corrupt. (5:1-3)

God’s indictment of Israel is found in chapter 4, and His judgment is pronounced beginning in chapter 5. Notice that it begins with God judging the leaders of the people, for He is holding them responsible for leading the people into their state of general rebellion against Him. As we saw in the last chapter, there was violence abroad in the land, along with every sort of corruption both in the halls of power and in the lives of the people themselves: They have turned to idolatry, and away from God and His ways.

If you notice verse 3 there are two Hebrew parallelisms:

I know all about Ephraim;
Israel is not hidden from me.
Ephraim, you have now turned to prostitution;
Israel is corrupt.

You may recall other times when I have pointed this out− the two statements separated in English by a semicolon. Each side is parallel to the other, meaning that they mean the same thing. When you put it all together, it is clear that Israel is not hiding anything from God; He knows all of their secrets and has seen that Israel is utterly and completely corrupt.

As we continue on through verse 14 God makes it abundantly clear that He will act against them, for they are so utterly corrupted in their hearts that they will never turn back to Him in repentance unless He takes drastic action to get their attention: They will pay a heavy price for what they have done. That’s when we arrive at verse 15:

Then I will return to my lair
until they have borne their guilt
and seek my face—
in their misery
they will earnestly seek me.

The action that God will shortly take against Israel, and Judah also it would seem, is to get their attention, to break their habit of corruption and debauchery so that they, in their despair, will turn back to Him. Contrary to what many think, and others have even taught, God isn’t just getting even with them, He isn’t acting out of spite or just being nasty; He has a plan to actually save them as a people.

Sadly, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people talk about God in the Old Testament as though He were some kind of a monster, just sitting around waiting for a chance to smite somebody, hoping that someone would mess up so that He could smash them. Yet as we have seen, and will continue to see, God was never like that. Instead He has been amazingly patient with the people, warning them, instructing them, working with them, forgiving them… and yet every time the people might repent for a while and then they would return to evil, getting worse and worse as they went until a time came when God recognized that if they didn’t get hurt, they would never stop.

15 years ago, I had 4 teenagers in the house. They were all good kids, but like all of us at that age, they thought that they pretty much had a handle on things, they wanted to try new things and were at a point in life where they had become, well let’s just say, a bit overconfident about their experience and knowledge of life in general. As a parent, I could see trouble ahead, and I warned, instructed and tried to protect them as much as possible, yet the day came when I knew that I would have to take a step back from time-to-time and let them learn certain lessons the hard way. I can only speak for myself of course, but for me, that was the most difficult part of parenting by far, because I knew that they would get hurt in the process, but such is the arrogance of youth that they actually thought they knew more about life than their parents. At one point I had a 15-year-old actually tell me that I didn’t know anything about how the world works!

What can you say to that kind of logic?

I managed not to laugh; that was a good first step I thought. I wanted to save her from herself, but I had to admit that there was only one way she was going to learn and as hard as it was to do, I let her get burned…

As I read these passages, I simply can’t help recalling these episodes from the past… and thinking to myself that being God can’t be as easy as it might seem at first.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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6 Responses to Judgment is at Hand

  1. Bette Cox says:

    Seed time and harvest… eternal. Wages of sin is death; whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. It’s amazing how many people ignore that simple truth, amazing and sad. Thanks, Don.

  2. DWMartens says:

    I was thinking just this morning, before reading this, that the wickedness in the world is, and always has been, that people have no desire for the Lord. When we desire Him, life seems somehow (He causes it to happen) to fall into place as He designed it to be; at least we get a more proper perspective on life as He designed it to be. Psalms 37:4 “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” He is our delight when we desire Him, and when we desire Him, He delights in us. People really put themselves through the agony of trying to live without Him as their desires are for anything but Him. As you said, being God can’t be easy when those He created to be intimately related to Him have only desires for anything but Him.

  3. Jeanne Sawyer says:

    Oh how I can relate to this with my daughter!

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