Hosea 2:13 (HCSB)
13 And I will punish her for the days of the Baals when she burned incense to them, put on her rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but forgot Me. This is the Lord’s declaration.
This pericope is a devastating look at the “jealousy” of God, a righteous jealousy, and the punishment that comes from turning from God to sin.
At first, in Hosea 2:2-5, and maybe even through v10, we might think the text is Hosea speaking of Gomer. But it becomes clear that, although there are certainly parallels, this is about Israel, the bride of God. Throughout the text there is an intertwining of the sin of Israel and the coming punishment of God. It would seem there a couple results, or goals, from the coming judgment of God of sinful Israel:
- Punishment – It seems clear that Israel will be punished. It is always a bit comical, and sad, when people shy away from the idea of God punishing those who sin against Him because it doesn’t fit their view of a loving God. Yet, when it comes to raising and training kids, or even people in the workplace, punishment is a totally acceptable course of action to correct a behavior. Not only that, but the typical person would, I believe, say that the parent who never punishes their child when they do wrong is an ineffective parent at best, and unloving towards that child at worst. Punishment is an effective tool for correcting negative behavior and helping humans make better decisions… so why would we think God is exempt from this parenting tool? Now, if all God wanted to do was punish Israel, just to punish her, perhaps we might question why, but we already know from the end of previous pericope that it looks like God has an ultimate plan of redemption. So we should not be fooled into thinking that this single pericope is the full picture of God’s plan for Israel. Instead we should recognize it for what it is: God acting as a loving Father and correcting His child in order to save her from sin.
- Glorification – This might seem unintuitive, but I think it is true. Israel is called promiscuous. She has chased after others, lovers other than her husband God. Not only that, but Israel has attributed the great works of God to these false gods, these lovers. Hosea 2:5, 8, and 12 all suggest that the blessings of God on His bride were twisted and attributed to false gods. And God is going to put an end to the blessings! So what will the result be? Israel will return to God (Hosea 2:7). But more importantly, Israel will have no choice but to recognize that Baal was powerless, that he was in fact not the source of the blessings. So not only is God glorified through recognition of His being the source of all that is good, but Baal is shown unworthy of worship, and not a god who matches God.
Despite the negative attitude of the pericope, we should not let this one passage skew our view of our loving and gracious God. But we should recognize His intolerance of sin, and that should drive us all the more to appreciate and chase after Him! After all, who would want to be a child of a god who is apathetic to, or even revels in, sin? No, we have a God that abhors sin, and although He is longsuffering, He will not tolerate it forever. We should recognize His correction, and strive to return to Him, when we stray.
Lord, thank You for correcting us. Although it is uncomfortable, and sometimes it is downright painful, You are loving enough to do so in order to save us eternally rather than spare us temporary pain. I pray for the discernment of Your correction in our lives, and the clarity to repent and turn from our sin that draws correction. Help us to avoid the promiscuity of Israel, and instead cling to You. Amen.