Throughout the centuries, death has been described in many ways. William Shakespeare imagined death as a tree on which only a few yellow leaves still hang—until they fall. Emily Dickinson personified death as a man in a carriage that comes for her. Alfred Lord Tennyson described death as a ship putting out to sea.
Yesterday we read about the violent attacks of the lion, the leopard, and the bear as God unleashed His wrath upon the people (13:7–11). In today’s passage, Hosea described Israel’s resulting death with three more metaphors. First, Israel is described as a baby in the middle of the birthing process (v. 13). When the contractions come, this foolish baby does not enter the birth canal. Like this child, Israel unwisely held onto their sin and refused to choose life.
In the second metaphor, Israel is described as a fertile land with wells of water and storehouses of food. Then, God sent a hot desert wind to dry everything up. The food was stolen, and the nation was left destitute. The third metaphor is the most graphic. The Moody Bible Commentary explains, “The east wind also represents the invasion of Assyria, which would plunder Israel’s treasury and violently murder its pregnant women and children (9:12). God’s people would fall to their enemies, dying by the sword.
But even this passage is not devoid of hope. Right in the middle, God paused to remind the people that He would ransom them. He could and would still redeem (v. 14). Even this slaughter would not be permanent since God’s love is everlasting and His dominion is even over death. The Apostle Paul quoted verse 14 in his Resurrection Chapter (1 Cor. 15:55), connecting this Old Testament prophesy to Christ’s resurrection. God will ultimately defeat both sin and death.
>> Today’s Bible passage may feel discouraging, but it holds a promise that no matter what darkness we face, God holds power over death. He gives us hope for today and for eternity.
This study of Hosea has been dark and heavy, yet it shows You to be a loving, merciful God. The Messiah has come, just as You promised, and He has defeated death and sin. We rejoice that You have the power to keep Your promises!