This week our son made a willful choice to do something wrong—a choice he had already made a few times before. I wasn’t home, so my husband Peter called me to explain the situation and the resulting, more- severe sentence. “How is he?” I asked. “He accepted it,” Peter told me. “He knows it’s what he deserved.”
I knew that too, but my mother-heart also broke on his behalf. Meting out punishment is not a pleasant side of parenting, but it is an act of love. In Hosea 11:8–9, God calls Israel “my child” and “my son” (v. 1). He is pictured as a father who had tried everything to discipline His son—to no good effect. A severe consequence was deserved, but He lamented the necessity of delivering it. The reader can hear His anguished love in the series of rhetorical questions (v. 8). He asks, in essence, “How can I do this to you?”
God isn’t confused. He isn’t wishy-washy or wavering. Rather, Hosea uses these human terms to express the intensity of God’s love and the complex nature of His grace. He doesn’t discipline from a distance. While His righteousness demands a punishment for sin, His mercy allows Him to limit His wrath.
Verses 10–11 remind us of God’s future plan for His people—a future time when God will roar like a lion, calling His people to return from captivity. And they will come! Today’s passage displays the multi-faceted character of God. We resonate with His compassionate father-heart. We respond with appropriate awe to His holiness that demands obedience and delivers discipline. Yet we marvel at His mercy that holds back His hand of punishment. We give praise for His persistent and loving pursuit of His people. And we put our hope in His power to accomplish His redemptive plan.
>> List the different aspects of God’s character that you have seen in the book of Hosea. What have you learned about the character of God through this study?
We honor what we have learned of You: that You are just and righteous; You cannot be deceived by false worship; You love Your people tenderly and grieve the consequences of their sin. We worship You, the grieved Judge.