Hosea 7:13 (HCSB)
13 Woe to them, for they fled from Me; destruction to them, for they rebelled against Me! Though I want to redeem them, they speak lies against Me.
Oh wow! Hosea 7:13… what a tremendously powerful verse. This pericope documents God’s “second lament” for His people. We see fully the description of torment that God endures, the conflicting aspects of His plan versus Israel’s choices.
“Though I want to redeem them, they speak lies against Me.” You can feel the pain in those words, God’s longing to restore His people, to make them right with Him again, yet the Israelites continued dissent and rebellion pushes against it. And the result? Destruction! Punishment comes for those who rebel against God.
And the passage goes on to show the two sides of this conflict, God on one side working for Israel, and Israel on the other rebelling from God. The Israelites slash themselves, surely an act of some pagan worship, in order to bring harvests of grain and grapes, rather than heartfully surrendering to God and relying on Him for sustenance. Despite God’s power lifting the Israelites up, out of slavery, to their own nation, they actually “plot against” God, the very One who gave them the power to do so! And they do not turn to lofty and high things, but instead are like a broken bow, always missing the mark.
This passage is not so much about the punishment, although for sure it is there, as it is about the pain of turning away from God. No doubt this is not any sort of crippling thing for God, and we should not read the passage as such, as though God is somehow struggling with His course of action or is torn up in a way that is somehow debilitating. Quite the contrary, God is resolute in His punishment of evil, and despite His love for us, He must be Himself.
This whole aspect makes the story of Christ so much more powerful. That God, through His love for us, directs His final punishment of sin at Himself, on our behalf, in order to be fully loving and fully just all at the same time. We should sing praises non-stop knowing that He has saved us, through Jesus, despite ourselves, despite our evil plots against Him and our rebellion in the midst of His grace and providence in our lives.
Lord, thank You for Your plan, Your sacrifice, and Your salvation gift to us! I am sorry for my evil plans and rebellious life. I ask that You would make me new, constantly renew me and shape into someone more and more like You. Amen.