By Joe Slater
Hosea wrote during a low point in Israel’s history. While the nation prospered materially, the people’s spiritual condition was deplorable. Hmmm. . . sound familiar?
Despite everything the Lord had done for Israel for centuries, the unthankful nation was “bent on backsliding from Me” (Hosea 11:7). They actually believed their prosperity came not from the Lord, but from their alliances with pagan trading partners. “For she did not know that I gave her grain, new wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold – which they prepared for Baal” (2:8).
God repeatedly warned His wayward people that He would take away their blessings and they would suffer (2:9-13). Because of their false swearing, lying, killing, and adultery, “therefore the land will mourn, and everyone who dwells there will waste away” (4:2-3). In addition, Israel’s idolatry (spiritual harlotry against God) would result in severe punishment: “Therefore people who do not understand will be trampled” (4:14).
In loving mercy, the Lord pleaded with Israel to return to Him. “Come, and let us return to the Lord” (6:1). “O Israel, return to the Lord your God” (14:1). “But they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek Him for all of this” (7:10). “They return, but not to the Most High” (7:16).
Does this sound like horrible news? Only for those unwilling to repent and return to God! “I will heal their backsliding and love them freely” (14:4). Jesus cures us from the fatal disease of sin: “(He) bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://justinchurchofchrist.com