Hosea 13 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
In some ways jealousy is bad. In Galatians 5:20, jealousy is a work of the flesh. Yet God is a jealous God according to Ex 20:5 and Ex 34:14. So we see in this chapter God is a jealous God. In Hosea 13, God is jealous for Israel or Ephraim as they are called in v. 1. Notice in verse one that sin always bring death. Sin does not bring immediate physical death but sin always brings spiritual death. Notice, Israel’s faithfulness is temporary like a morning mist, dew, chaff, or smoke (v 3).
Notice in v. 4 how jealous God is. “I am the Lord your God. . .” which is a startling thing to say to such wayward people. But God goes further in v. 4. “you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior.” Why is God so jealous of Israel? After all, we have been reading about idolatry, lying, deception, and turning away from God? Nothing answers that question but the love of God. God is so giving, so loving, that He claims this sinful nation as His own and His own to defend.
In v. 5, he reminds the idolatrous nation of Israel that it was God they knew in the Exodus. Yet, even though God will not forget them, Israel forgot God. For many people, we forget God as soon as we have our nice home, a nice car, and a happy family v. 6. As soon as we are full, we gravitate to things and away from pursuing God.
When God mentions the exodus we are reminded that God is powerful. To remove Israel from slavery, to release His people from the Pharaoh of Egypt took power (v. 4) His care is also an example of power. In verse 5, “5 I cared for you in the desert, in the land of burning heat. 6 When I fed them, they were satisfied . . . .”
He gave them kings (although they asked for a king for the wrong reason) and he will take away their kings because He is their only King (v. 11). Yet they still go astray.
So, in this same spirit of love, God is “like a lion (to them), like a leopard. . .” God is like a jealous “bear robed of her cubs”. God also says he “will devour them like a lion, as a wild beast would rip them open (vs. 7-8). God will not give up Israel and is still loving them even though “they forgot me” v. 6. God’s patience and longsuffering is jaw dropping.
We said God is jealous. God is jealous for His own glory and He is jealous for the happiness of His people. God knows that sin will only do harm to His people. Sin never provides joy, never provides satisfaction, and never provides fulfillment. Yet we love sin. You see this in Hosea and in the Bible as a whole.
God is always against sin. He opposes sin because sin opposes His will and destroys His people. So God’s discipline is not harsh. Discipline is what a parent gives a child who rejects her Mother’s warning about getting too close to a campfire. The Mother does not want the child to fall in the fire. God will discipline His children because we are His children. This is what Hebrews 12:6ff reminds us: discipline from God proves we are His children.
His promise is to redeem His people. But there is discipline along the way. This is discipline to draw us to Him. We can still have hope . Look at verse 14. The ESV has this translation, “14 Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion is hidden from my eyes.” This does not offer the hope as clearly as other translations. The NIV and others translate as, “14 “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction? “I will have no compassion,” This is a stronger and clearer word of hope. And it fits the order of words of judgment followed immediately with words of hope. See Hosea 11:7 (doom) followed by verses 8-9, words of hope. God will destroy the last enemy which is death (I Cor. 15: 54ff)
This is our God. Loving, disciplining, tender, yet full of wrath, giving grace, yet demanding His truth be followed and believed. God is not all wrath or all Love. He is the perfect balance of truth in all its aspects. The more you know of God; the more you love Him. May that God, the God of the Bible, live within us and draw us nearer to Him and finally to His eternal presence.