A Tale of Holy Love, Unfaithfulness, Justice, Mercy, and Grace
“Though he may flourish among his brothers, the east wind, the wind of the LORD, shall come, rising form the wilderness and his fountains shall dry up; his spring shall be parched; it shall strip his treasury of every precious thing.”
The evil and rebellious may flourish in the land. They may enjoy prosperity and abundance. But at the end of the day, God will have the final word. His judgment against them will not be thwarted. And this was true of wayward Israel.
On the outside Israel appeared to be doing well. Their crops were flourishing, the economy was booming, and all people were enjoying the season of prosperity. However, that didn’t mean that they were enjoying the blessing of the LORD. On the contrary, their idolatry, blatant sin, and rampant wickedness pushed God to the end of His patience. Yet in His great mercy He did not immediately destroy them which is why, for a time, they seemed to flourish in the land. Though their sin was great, they were still enjoying peace, prosperity, and success.
But this was not to last forever. God allowed their sin to continue unpunished for a time to give them a chance to repent. He sent numerous prophets and godly messengers to warn the people of His impending judgment should they not return. But Israel would not listen. They scoffed, they laughed, they ignored, and they simply refused to give up their sin. Eventually the LORD deemed enough to be enough. Though He loved His chosen people, His holiness could not allow their evil to go unpunished forever. So God’s judgment rained down upon Israel. They were swept into captivity and their homeland was destroyed. The season of plenty, prosperity, and success were over and Israel no longer flourished among his brothers.
Two lessons can be learned from Hosea 13:15. One is a warning and the other a word of hope.
The Word of Hope
Though evil may seem to prosper and flourish in the land it is not unseen by our God. He will have the last word and His judgment will reign supreme. But in the meantime, God’s loving patience and mercy have allowed sinful man to continue in their wicked ways in the hope that they may see the light and turn to Christ. Oh, praise the Lord that He has not yet punished the evil of this world, because if He had, we would have been forever lost! So when your heart cries out in anguish like the psalmist David, “Why, O LORD, do you let the wicked go unpunished?” remember that God’s impending judgment on all evil will not be thwarted but His mercy and grace is staying that judgment so that more may come to salvation.
Our country is in a similar place as Israel. Outwardly all seems to be well, the economy has picked up, material wealth is common place, we are prosperous and flourishing in the world, but spiritually this nation is dying. Our culture and society is walking so far away from God and His standards. Evil has become common place, hatred and malice is everywhere, and the fundamental definition of truth is changing. We are nearing the place where “every man does what is right in his own eyes.” Though our nation was founded and built upon God’s law and His ways and though our history is filled with many great men and women who fully lived for the Lord and walked rightly before Him, the spiritual future of this country is looking bleak. On a national level we have forgotten our Maker and are going against the LORD our Helper, just like Israel.
During the days of the Puritans, America was considered a new Israel—a new nation whom God would exceedingly bless and use for His purposes, a new promise land. In many ways God has blessed America and lifted her up in the modern world. But whether or not we are the new Israel, we are definitely following in the downfall and fate of Israel. Our spiritual, social, and cultural climate is looking awfully similar to that of Hosea’s day. So the warning to Israel in Hosea 13:15 is also a warning to us. Though we flourish among the nations in the world, God will not let our sin, treachery, and rampant wickedness go unpunished. He did not tolerate a nation that claimed to be God’s chosen ones but also practiced pagan rituals and sacrifices to golden statues. Likewise, the Holy One of Israel does not tolerate a 21st century nation claiming to be “one nation under God” while it toys with the abomination of homosexuality and the murder of innocent children who have yet to take their first breath. No, these things God hates and they cannot stand before His presence.
So let us heed the warning, let us do our part and not join the culture in rebellion against God, and let us be like Hosea who spread the message, though it was unpopular and not received well. Let us also take heart and be encouraged that God’s mercy and steadfast love is ever patient giving everyone a chance to repent and return. However, a day is coming when evil will be dealt with, for God’s judgment will not be thwarted.
“He destroys you, O Israel, for you are against me, against your helper. Where now is your king, to save you in all your cities? Where are all your rulers—those of whom you said, ‘Give me a king and princes’?”