In Hosea chapter 5, God continues to bring forth his contentions with Israel. He lays out their sin, holds the priests and royal leaders responsible, and warns of the impending judgement on the people. Israel is going to receive the punishment and discipline that is justly due to them. But God does not fully desert them, nor execute his full wrath. In his perfect holiness he is right to judge the Israelites for their sin, but in his goodness he extends mercy. This points to the complete mercy that he has shown us through the Lord Jesus Christ in his atonement of sins and the complete grace that we are able to receive because he has reconciled us to God.
Hear this, O priests! Pay attention, O house of Israel! Give ear, O house of the king! For the judgment is for you; for you have been a snare at Mizpah and a net spread upon Tabor. And the revolters have gone deep into slaughter, but I will discipline all of them.Hosea 5:1-2
In verses 1-2 The religious and royal leaders of Israel are addressed for the judgement of their sin. Mizpah and Tabor were revered, historical sites that had now been defiled by their leaders. The imagery of the net and snare depicts Israel as the prey of the priests and royalty. The revolters (the corrupt who have turned from God) bringing the people to slaughter by misleading them to worship false gods in places where the Lord should be worshipped. For this, Israel would not only suffer active discipline from God, but natural consequences for their actions.
I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from me; for now, O Ephraim, you have played the whore; Israel is defiled. Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. For the spirit of whoredom is within them, and they know not the Lord. The pride of Israel testifies to his face; Israel and Ephraim shall stumble in his guilt; Judah also shall stumble with them. With their flocks and herds they shall go to seek the Lord, but they will not find him; he has withdrawn from them. They have dealt faithlessly with the Lord; for they have borne alien children. Now the new moon shall devour them with their fields.Hosea 5: 3-7
God lays out the consequences of spiritual adultery. Israel had become defiled because of their sin. Consequently, their deeds kept them from returning to God. Because they did not know their God and they were trying to satisfy themselves with the worship of false idols, God withdrew from them in order to leave them to the fruit of their spiritual adultery; separation from God and his wrath poured out on them. Israel was not hidden from God, though ironically he had hid himself from them. He knew his people, though they do not know him. They had become defiled from their union with false gods. They were like Gomer, who by her adultery, defiled her marriage with Hosea. Like Israel, Gomer’s deeds did not permit a return to her husband. The holy God of Israel would not be reconciled with a defiled people. Their wonderful covenant had been tainted and festivals that once celebrated the goodness of the Lord now pointed to their destruction. The Israelites had been judged guilty of sin against God. All sin has consequence. As we stray from God’s perfect law, we reap the fruit of unwise and evil actions motivated by the flesh. But sin is also punishable by God. At the fall, Adam and Eve were exiled from the garden, from the presence of God. From then on they were to suffer death and the wrath of God unless their sins could be atoned for. Throughout the history of God’s people God set up ways to atone for their sins in order to temporarily delay impending punishment and provide a way for temporary and partial communion with God. (i.e. through the giving of the Law, temple rituals, and covenants)
Blow the horn in Gibeah, the trumpet in Ramah. Sound the alarm at Beth-aven; we follow you, O Benjamin! Ephraim shall become a desolation in the day of punishment; among the tribes of Israel I make known what is sure. The princes of Judah have become like those who move the landmark; upon them I will pour out my wrath like water. Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment, because he was determined to go after filth. But I am like a moth to Ephraim, and like dry rot to the house of Judah. When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his wound, then Ephraim went to Assyria, and sent to the great king. But he is not able to cure you or heal your wound. 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.Hosea 5:8-14
In verses 8-14 Hosea continues in irony saying to “blow the horn in Gibeah, the trumpet in Raman, and to sound the alarm at Beth-aven.” The blowing of horns was meant to warn the community of danger, but also summoned religious festivals. Hosea’s message was to warn the Israelites of God’s coming judgement. The punishment for their sin was justified. God compared them to those who “move the landmark” — a reference to those who would move their neighbors boundary mark to impede on their land. The wrath of God would be poured out on those who tried to take inheritance that was not theirs. Even After realizing their affliction, they still ran to worldly kings for aid instead of repenting to the true God. No one can hide from the wrath of God. He not only has the right to exact his judgement, but the power to carry it out completely.
I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.Hosea 5:15
God had every right to punish his people and destroy them indefinitely. Just as Hosea had the right to divorce his wife and desert her for her adultery, God had the right To abandon his people and leave them to the consequential judgement for their sin. Instead, in verse 15 God says that he will return to his place until they acknowledge their guilt and earnestly seek him. God had the right and means to destroy his people, instead he shows them mercy. No one had the power to rescue the people from their sin and God’s wrath but God. Even when they ran to other means to save them, God would wait patiently for them to return to him.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.Romans 5:6-10
Our God is a holy God. He cannot be united with unholiness and sin. We are a defiled people, deserving God’s wrath as punishment for our sins. Like Gomer we not only deserve to be separated from God, but that is the reality of our status when we are without Christ. God showed the Israelites temporary mercy for their sin, but now we have all-encompassing grace and mercy through Jesus Christ. Only God has the power to ultimately save us from his wrath. Jesus took on the burden of sin for us, not only to save us from eternal punishment, but to make us holy so that we may be reconciled to God. It was not Gomer’s righteousness that lead Hosea to reconcile with her but God’s command to Hosea to do so. Hosea shows us that God redeems us through his own holiness. Jesus is the great high priest who is the mediator between us and the Father. In Christ’s holiness we are made holy.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.Romans 5:1-5
Let us rejoice that God has the power to justify us and reconcile us to God. His deeds permit us to return to the Lord and he was crushed in the judgement that was meant for us. Let us also rejoice that he is also powerful enough to sanctify us through his Spirit. Because of our justification through Jesus Christ, we have peace with God and because of the power of his resurrection we have new life in the Spirit.