What does it say?
Hosea 8-9 accuses Israel of having forgotten God and lists her sins of idolatry, trusting in treaties rather than God, corrupted true worship and arrogantly disregarding God’s law. God warns the nation of judgment and likens it to a reversal of the Exodus.
Israel’s relative affluence and form of religious worship only masks the people’s spiritual adultery (Hos 10). They are ready to reap what they have sown. Hosea 11 is a glimpse into God’s loving heart that was picture by Hosea himself in the earlier living parable. His love is not the least bit diminished, but his justice must be executed due to sin. Hosea 12 reminds Israel of Jacob the deceiver. He schemed and plotted and resisted God until he learned to trust God and live up to the name God gave him – Israel. Despite Israel’s idolatry, there is but one true God and his judgment will surely come as the hot, east wind (Hos 13).
Hosea 14 concludes with God’s love and pleading to Israel that they might return to him. The light of God’s love and mercy is always ready to burst upon the eastern horizon to those who forsake their sin and turn to him.
What does it mean?
We see God torn between love and justice and neither of these can be ignored. This is the same pain and conflict that Jesus carried to the cross. There is clearly a dynamic tension between God’s love and his justice or holiness, but never a contradiction. The way this tension was resolved was when Jesus Christ went to the cross to experience in his own body the judgment that should have been ours for our sin. That sacrificial, substitutionary death is the greatest manifestation of unconditional love.
These same two attributes of God, his love and his holiness, still drive his mission today. God is love (1Jn 4:8) and he is also light, or holiness (1Jn 1:5). With no love, we would only experience God’s judgment. Were God to simply pass over our sin without acting upon our sin, there would be no justice, no righteousness, no holiness. God would cease to be God. Both are necessary – his love and his holiness. This is the heart of the mission.
How will I respond?
Does my life reflect both God’s love and his holiness? Do I sometimes become too judgmental and lack love for the sinner? Or, do I tend to simply ignore sin and fail to speak up for righteousness? Can I think of an issue or relationship in my life that I need to address today in order that I might reflect both God’s love and holiness?