By Robert Olsen, Ph. D.
Associate Professor of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
The Hollow Promises
Hosea pleads with his fellow Israelites to return to the Lord because He will heal their wounds. In just a brief amount of time (after two days and on the third) God will heal them if they turn back to Him. In fact, God’s love and forgiveness will be poured out on them like the spring rains that refresh the land.
It is evident God’s punishment against Israel is not out of spite or revenge. It is a form of discipline. The purpose of discipline is to change behavior — it is actually a form of love (Heb. 12:7).
God is trying to get the Israelites to return to Him because this is in their best interest. Many people today think of the Bible as a handbook of laws meant to keep us from having any fun. However, the Bible shows us how to worship God and live in a way pleasing to Him, which is also for our benefit.
If we follow the teachings of the Bible, we will have a much more stable and spiritually prosperous life. The temptation of sin makes us think we know better and our decisions are better than God’s.
Still, God is quick to forgive us when we repent, and we can never be so far away from God that He will not forgive us when we repent.
Interestingly, in this section is a seemingly insignificant passage with profound implications. Hosea says God will revive the Israelites soon once they repent, and on the third day, He will raise them up so they can live in His presence. This comment is a foreshadowing of the resurrection of Christ.
Many people try to suggest this comment is meant only for the Israelites in Hosea’s day, but that is a shortsighted view.
In 1 Corinthians 15:4, Paul tells us the Scriptures point to Jesus rising on the third day. It is important to remember the Holy Spirit is the One who works through the men who wrote the Bible, and it is the Holy Spirit who then gives interpretation to passages.
One of the problems facing the Israelites and Judeans was that they believed their rituals demonstrated repentance.
We can fall into the same trap today. We may think if we go to church, read our Bible, give to the poor, etc., then our action will cause God to love us, grant favor to us or forgive our sins.
The problem is that while we may be doing good things, God is looking at our heart.
God desires we repent from our heart, which then leads to good deeds. God would prefer us to live by the spirit of the Law than try to obey the law for the sake of just obeying the law.
Hosea 6:6 sums this up well: “For I desire loyalty and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
It is not in the act that God delights, but in the heart behind the act. A heart properly aligned to God leads to acts that please Him.
There is nothing we can do to make God love us. In fact, He loves us in spite of ourselves (Rom. 5:8). Proper appreciation of the salvation we have in Christ is acts of love toward God.
Because the Israelites and the tribe of Judah did not worship God in spirit and in truth, He was going to punish them, and they would face judgment.
Just as Adam had violated God’s law in Genesis, these Israelites had also violated God’s covenant with them, and they would pay the price.
God is holy and must punish sin. God will punish everyone who has not accepted Christ as payment for their sin. The gospel is that the perfect Christ, both God and man, died in our place for us.
If we do not accept this transaction and instead trust in our own supposed goodness, we will face an eternal separation from God.
The good news of the gospel of Christ needs to be shared throughout the world.
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