Return, Israel, to the Lord your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!
With these words, Hosea’s final chapter begins. It is a chapter of repentance and redemption, filled with hope and a simple faith. Israel had fallen into idolatry, literally the worship of false gods made by their own hands, they had fallen into violence, injustice, greed, envy and debauchery of every sort. As a consequence of all this, they had refused to repent and return to their God, they had persisted in their foolishness and had suffered God’s justice. Now, at the end, there is one more call for Israel to cease its rebellion and return to God.
The situation in which Israel finds itself here is a very human situation in which many of us, probably most of us, have been in at one time or another. There is anger, resentment, hurt and yes, a fair amount of shame. Yet even then, there is pride and stubbornness in play. We know we’ve messed up royally, and yet we are afraid to come home to the Lord for whatever reason. Often, we simply don’t wish to be condemned further, to be chastised, to be lectured or preached at about our errors; we already hurt enough.
It’s very important for us to see what is really happening in this book: God has judged Israel, yes, this is true, but God’s judgment consisted of His removing His blessing, it was passive, not active. He simply allowed events to take their course and didn’t intervene to save His rebellious people from the consequences of their own actions any more. Thus, the second part of our verse: Your sins have been your downfall!
This is just like a parent who lets their teenage child take what they have coming when they simply refuse to listen to reason.
As Christians, what do we do when we come across someone who has been seriously burned by their own bad choices in life? Do we kick them when they’re down? Do we call them names?
Harlot! Slut! Jezebel! Sinner!
Maybe we need to pour it on and tell them every single thing they have done wrong and demand that they apologize to us…
I would respectfully suggest that if we do these kinds of things, then our own sins will be our downfall. Shouldn’t we be extending a loving hand to help the person get up instead? Is it really up to us to punish someone who has already received the consequences of their sins?
These are things to think about, that’s for sure. As we continue, Hosea will show us God’s approach to all of this, and then we can think some more about it.