Why a book like Hosea? Why would God inspire this man to write out a series of
sermons about the justice and holiness of God? Why would anyone include this sort of book in the Bible? God would do a lot better if the Bible was about His love, and it focused on all the good things, right?
Actually, hard books like Hosea are the most loving in the Bible. We like fluffy love that makes everyone feel good about themselves, affirming whatever choices a person makes. But this is not really love. Sometimes love must be tough. Imagine if all I did for my three year old son was give him fluffy love. He would have never ben potty trained, he would eat nothing but chocolate, he would bully every other kid around, and he would never go to bed. Nothing is worse than a spoiled little kid who lives life as the king of the world. For Josiah to become all that He can be, I have to confront him with tough expectations and discipline.
When he was about two years old, Josiah would often play in the front yard. As he was playing in our front yard, occasionally Josiah would wander toward the street. Whenever he got too close, I would yell at him, warning him that he needs to come back to dad and stay away from the street. This was especially hard for him when he was chasing one of his balls. At that point, Josiah was confronted with a decision. Does he listen to the tough saying, or does he follow his own path. The first couple times we shouted, Josiah listened, primarily because he was afraid. But one day, Josiah decided to chase the ball. I ran that boy down and popped his butt. He cried, and I explained that he must listen and obey. A few days later, same song, different verse, he started to run into the street again, and found the same shout from dad, followed by the same spanking. He even looked at me and said, “Daddy, you are mean! You hit me!” I hated that.
Then one day, Josiah was playing in the yard again, and a ball went rolling into the street. I turned my head to see the ball rolling. Josiah ran to the edge of the street and stopped at the curb, watching the ball roll down the street. He did not even notice the car coming up the street, he watched the ball. But this time, he didn’t move, he stood still. As I ran by him, I praised him for his trust in me and obedience, and I went and got the ball and brought it back to him, returning him to the safety of the yard to play and enjoy life. But what if I had never warned him. The warnings, shouting, and spankings had been the most loving things I could do to my boy.
God loves His people in similar ways. He gives them a relationship with Himself, and teaches them how to trust Him and the dangers that await if they leave His yard. Yet, God’s people did not listen to the first warning, and ran off to other gods and alliances, that would eventually bring great harm. God shouts, disciplines, and even brings the harshest of responses. Yet, all of this is a demonstration of His love, His desire to help them experience all that He has to offer them, and to keep them from experiencing the oncoming car resulting from their choices.
Hosea ends with hope, the same hope my son has when he comes near to the edge of the street. He can either trust his daddy, obey him, and stay in the yard, where I can protect him and provide for him. Or he can run off into the street and either experience my loving wrath, or something much, much worse. Hosea ends where he started, with a plea to repent, trust Jesus, and return to God. This is exactly what he means when he says, “the ways of the Lord or aright, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.” Which are you?