When the going got tough they turned to the world to keep going (Hosea 5:13). Not surprising, for long ago they had stopped seeking their God. They had forsaken the Lord of heaven for the fleeting pleasures of spiritual adultery with the things of earth (4:10b). Thus, they no longer even knew what it meant to be faithful to their God, or to love their God. In fact, they had no knowledge of their God (4:1b). So immersed where they in their worldly lovers and their sensual desires, their deeds did not permit them to return to their God –“for the spirit of whoredom” was within them (5:4). So, when they were oppressed, crushed by judgment, they turned to the lovers and filth they knew instead of the Holy One whose desire to love them they had rejected.
Bottom line, says the God who now confronts them through Hosea, they saw no value or advantage to seeking the God who had delivered them from Egypt, established them in the promised land, and for centuries had cared for them as His people.
But I am like a moth to Ephraim, and like dry rot to the house of Judah.
(Hosea 5:12 ESV)
But our God is not a moth. He is a lion. And while a moth can be ignored as inconsequential, that may not be the best approach to take when you’ve provoked a lion.
For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear and go away; I will carry off, and no one shall rescue. I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.
(Hosea 5:14-15 ESV)
He would tear. He would carry off. He would return to His place. But God the Lion doesn’t tear to destroy forever. He doesn’t carry away to remove all hope of rescue. He doesn’t return to His place determined to never return again. Even in His judgment, He demonstrates His kindness — doing what needs to be done so that His people might confess their sin and seek His face.
And so the prophet pleads:
“Come, let us return to the LORD; for He has torn us, that He may heal us; He has struck us down, and He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live before Him. Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; His going out is sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”
(Hosea 6:1-3 ESV)
Those are the verses I’m chewing this morning. For in them I think I’m seeing a picture of the dynamics of our salvation.
He heals us. Cures our disease. Fully deals with the problem of our sin as He applies the shed blood and saving grace of the cross. Through His finished work at Calvary, the Great Physician cuts out the cancerous, sin-controlled heart and replaces it with a new heart — a heart able to know Him and to embrace righteousness. By His wounds we are healed (Isa. 53:5).
He binds us up. Not only does He rescue, but He restores. Bandages are applied, splints are put in place, so that we can again grow in strength and walk as we should. And all this through the giving and sealing of His Spirit. Jesus dispensing the Spirit to bind up the brokenhearted (Isa. 61:1).
He revives us and raises us up. Rescued not to live out our days regretting the life we should have lived, but to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4), knowing what real life is, life to the full (Jn. 10:10). Never more jazzed by life. Never more able to enter fully into life. Raised up on the third day (has a familiar ring to it doesn’t it?) in order to fully experience eternal life.
And all this so that we may live before Him.
His people considered Him as relevant as a moth and as useful as dry rot. But in His mercy and grace He revealed Himself to them as a consuming lion so that they would come to their senses and return again to their God.
The God who heals. The God who binds up. The God who revives. The God who raises up. The God before whom, and with whom, we can live.
All praise be to the Lion who heals. And to the Lamb who saves.
Because of His grace. Always for His glory.