“The book of Hosea reveals that God’s primary instrument of love is often divine discipline.”
It is hard not to be captivated by the story in the book of Hosea. Hosea’s unlikely marriage and subsequent family trials are as gritty as they are shocking. But this drama takes up a relatively small portion of the book. Eight of the chapters are devoted to predictions of judgment and promises of restoration that Hosea’s story illustrates. As a whole, the book of Hosea shows us the connection between God’s love and His discipline.
Hosea’s shattered marriage mirrored Israel’s unfaithfulness to God’s covenant. The prophet’s response illustrated God’s pursuit of His disobedient people. This pursuit included both rejection and restoration. God did not dismiss Israel’s unfaithfulness. In His sovereignty, He brought pressure to move them to repentance. Indeed, the book of Hosea reveals that God’s primary instrument of love is often divine discipline.
The apostle Paul recognized that this discipline, even to the point of what looked like rejection, was God’s way of moving Israel from unbelief to faith. Peter and Paul both saw God’s acceptance of the Gentiles in Christ anticipated in the names given to Hosea’s children (Hos. 1:10; 2:23; Rom. 9:25–26; 1 Peter 2:10). Their inclusion in the promises of God was intended to provoke Israel to a kind of jealousy that would one day lead them to Christ (Rom. 11:11).
God uses the difficulties we face to train us in sanctification. When we endure hardship, we should accept difficulties as loving pressure from our heavenly Father intended for our good. It is a form of discipline (Heb. 12:7). We are undergoing training in holiness so that we may be transformed by God’s grace (Heb. 12:10). Understanding God’s intent motivates us to endure the process. It will also help to remember other areas in life where we have placed ourselves under discipline. An athlete, a musician, or an employee learning a new job must all submit themselves to training and endure difficulties. How much more willing should we be when the one who is training us is God?
To learn more, read Coming to Grips With God’s Discipline of the Believer by Erwin Lutzer (Moody Publishers).