A Tale of Holy Love, Unfaithfulness, Justice, Mercy, and Grace
When you’re between a rock and a hard place, you generally go looking for help. The question is where do you go to for help? Who do you turn to?
Israel was in a difficult situation as God poured out His judgment upon her. Her land was desolate, her people broken, and her future seemingly hopeless. But instead of turning to the LORD and seeking forgiveness for her transgression, Israel dug herself into a deeper hole by pursuing alliances and help from her powerful, ungodly next-door neighbor.
“When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his wound, then Ephraim went to Assyria, and sent to the great king. But he is not able to cure you or heal your wound.”
God was trying to break Israel and bring her to a place where she would humble herself and return to Him. By removing the blessings Israel had previously enjoyed, God was not only punishing His people for their blatant sin but also trying to bring them back to Himself. His judgment was not only righteous anger but also loving discipline. His ultimate intention was for Israel to recognize her guilt and repent.
Yet this was not what Israel did. After she saw the desperate place she was in, Israel sought out foreign help and alliances. Instead of turning to the God of their fathers, this stubborn people looked for human help among heathen nations. Instead of acknowledging their guilt and transgression of the holy covenant with God they ran off to see if Assyria could fix their God-size problem.
It’s interesting to note that Israel went to Assyria for help. At this point in history, Assyria was the rising world power. Centered in upper Mesopotamia and ruled from its capital in godless Nineveh, this secular nation was might in military strength. So while it may have seemed like a good place to look for an ally, Assyria was filled with idolatry and immorality. Also, this neighboring country had its sights set on conquering Israel, which it eventually did, not long after the writing of Hosea. Be careful who your friends are!
So Israel went running off to Assyria for help. This grieved God’s heart even more, since His beloved people not only thoroughly rejected Him but also built an alliance with a nation totally against all that He stood for. Therefore, God continued to rain His just judgment upon Israel and because they sided with the wrong team, they ended up casualties.
God wants to be our only ally. He doesn’t want us turning to other, outside sources for help. He wants us to look solely to Him for all that we have need of, because He is more than willing to supply all our need. And if God is on our side, nothing and no one can stand against us. Compared to Him, all other alliances are inapt and useless. They cannot stand against God’s sovereignty and omnipotence. Even if all the nations of the world rallied behind a common goal, they couldn’t stand a chance against God.
This is where Israel made her critical mistake. She tried to solve her God-size problems with human alliances but it only landed her in slavery and bondage. She went to the king of Assyria to see if he could bring prosperity and wealth back into her land, but he was useless. He couldn’t do it even if he wanted to. God brought it upon Israel and only God could fix it. But did Israel look to God for help? No. So she never again returned to her former state of prosperity.
But what about us? Are we like Israel and looking to human friends for help with our spiritual issues? In the midst of God’s discipline, are we trying to see if someone else could fix our problems? Are we so set in our sin that we refuse to turn to God for help and healing and instead run to the most powerful human ally we can think of?
Are we trying to solve our God-size problems by human means?
When God is trying to teach and discipline us it does not help to run from the classroom and seek sanctuary in the domain of the nearest ally. God’s plans and purposes cannot be thwarted by our measly human efforts. Therefore, let’s abandon our inapt alliances with human friends and stick with God—the ultimate Ally and sovereign Ruler of the world. Even through life’s good times and bad times, don’t switch sides and become a casualty, but stay true to the One who is unchangeable. For He will remain faithful and His purpose will be accomplished no matter what.
“But he [God] is unchangeable, and who can turn him back?
What he desires, that he does.”