By Nathan Jones
We continue on with our tenth installment of our faith study of the biblical Minor Prophets book of Hosea. This time we'll better understand the vastness of God's divine heart by looking at His profile when it comes to in His sovereignty how He can be pained yet just.
God—A Profile in Pain and Justice
Pained. The heart of God can be pained. Why would so massive a God concern Himself over being betrayed by so small a people? It's because God also has the most massive of hearts. God's giant heart tears and shatters biggest of all. As great is God's capability for love, for God is love, so too is His susceptibleness to pain. Those who love the most feel pain the hardest. And so, in hair-pulling and teeth-clenching fiery, righteous anger, the Broken Hearted hands down the following judgments upon Israel:
- "Lest I strip her naked and expose her, as in the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst."
- "I will not have mercy on her children."
- I will "take away" and "cause all her mirth to cease."
- I will "destroy her vines and her fig trees, of which she has said, 'These are my wages that my lovers have given me'."
- "Nor shall their sacrifices be pleasing to Him... it shall not come into the house of the Lord."
- "I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense."
- "I will drive them from My house; I will love them no more."
And yet, even though Israel provoked Yahweh to anger most bitterly, God through His anguished rage cries out as from the heart of a parent forced into disciplining His wayward child, "How can I give you up, Ephraim?.. My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred." As a long forgotten wise man once shared, "By chastening, the Lord separates the sin that He hates from the sinner whom He loves" (Hosea 2:3,4,9,11-12; 5:6,15; 8:13; 9:4,15; 11:8; 12:14; 1 John 4:8,16).
Sovereign. The heart of God is sovereign. Does God have any right to be angry over Israel's backstabbing betrayals? Well, that by now should go without saying. How about His right then to be angry over your and my own rebellion? Exactly what kind of authority does God hold? The answer first dwells within who God is:
- "For I am God, and not man, the Holy One in your midst."
- "I am the Lord your God."
- "I will be your King."
- He is the "Lord God of hosts."
So, as king of the universe, God possesses ALL authority.
Second, Hosea reveals God's power is supreme. Yahweh has all knowledge and power. Nothing is hidden from God, for He sees all. Nothing can stand against God's might. Nothing!
Third, because of God's holiness and sovereign position, He invariably holds the only right to judge us. So, for example, God's decisions in Hosea to bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel and bring charges against Judah and to punish them for their evil deeds cannot be disputed (Hosea 1:4,5; 4:6; 5:3; 7:2; 11:9; 12:2,5,9; 13:4,10). Our God reigns supreme!
Just. The heart of God is just. Not only is God a loving God, but as King of the Universe, He is a just sovereign.
Hosea reveals God rules with righteousness and justice because the ways of the Lord are right. What a blessing!
For every evil committed, every wrong deed done, every injustice that escapes man's earthly justice, God will deal with each in fairness and righteousness. The murderous despot will fall. The knife-wielding hand of the cold-hearted abortionist will be broken. The brutal rapists will be made impotent. The persecutors of the Church will know true fear. All the raging unrepentants who shake their balled-up fists at God will one day stand before the Righteous Judge at the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15 and face the eternal fiery consequences for their evil deeds. Justice will finally be met. Hoo-ray!
At least 35 judgments are stated within Hosea, too many to list here, but they pour forth justice for the wrongs Israel committed against God and the universal moral law.
First stands the charge—"The Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land." Second is the court case—"He will remember their iniquity." Third is the judgment—"your judgments are like light that goes forth." And fourth is the sentence as God promises to "avenge the bloodshed."
- "He will break down their altars; He will ruin their sacred pillars."
- "I will punish her for the days of the Baals."
- "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim."
- "They shall not dwell in the Lord's land."
- "My God will cast them away, because they did not obey Him; and they shall be wanderers among the nations."
And, God did just that. According to 2 Kings 17:24, by 721 BC—within Hosea's lifetime—God had allowed the Assyrian King Sargon to conquer and carry off 27,290 of the people of Israel and then settled foreigners in their homes.12 The Northern Kingdom of Israel was destroyed and its people forced to be wanderers among the nations, exactly as God told Hosea would happen if they refused to repent.
Many today believe God is an impotent judge, but He's only being patient, for judgment inevitably comes as swiftly and destructively as a Category 5 tornado (Hosea 1:4; 2:13,19; 3:4; 6:5; 9:3,9,17; 10:2; 14:1,9; 2 Peter 3:9).
In the eleventh part of this series on faith in the book of Hosea, we'll better understand the vastness of God's divine heart by looking at His profile when it comes to how He is both forgiving and generous in offering salvation.
12. Lewis, J.P. (1966). Minor Prophets. Austin, Texas: Sweet Publishing Company. p.17.