The message of Hosea is a hard one for us to wrap our heads around. God is saying that because of their long and stubborn persistence in sin, he is resolved to punish them severely – though not finally. He will undertake a drastic pruning – but not so as to END Israel, but actually, so as to save them.
This is like cutting off a leg in order to save the body.
This is like putting a patient into a medically induced coma in order to bring a raging fever under control.
This is God saying that he will do the unthinkable in order to save the unsavable.
The full text of Hosea 13:8 reads as follows:
“I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs; I will tear open their breast, and there I will devour them like a lion, as a wild beast would rip them open.” (Hosea 13:8 ESV)
We like to talk about how God is our Shepherd – and rightly so – but here we learn that sometimes, God isn’t the Shepherd who protects us, he is the wild beast who attacks us.
He is both.
In a way that is hard for us to understand.
There is nothing in my personal make up that helps me to comprehend this aspect of God’s character – which is why so many different similes are used in Hosea to describe God.
God is big.
God is other.
And one thing we tend to forget about God is that he has a settled antagonism toward sin.
He hates sin.
So when we soak sin up and wear it continually like a garment – God tells us to take it off, to let it go and to deal with it immediately.
If we don’t – if we delay – he may come at us like a wild bear.
Not because he hates us – but because he hates sin and because he knows what we don’t: sin will kill us. It will destroy us. It will diminish us. It will spread from us and negatively affect every single person that we come into contact with.
It is that serious.
So God is that serious.
He is like a bear.
And sin is a deadly danger to his cubs.
So he attacks it like a momma bear would attack a rabid dog.
You don’t want to be holding on to the rabid dog when this event occurs.
So let it go.
Put it down.
Because God sees, God cares and God comes.
Praise the Lord!
Pastor Paul Carter
To listen to the most recent episodes of Pastor Paul’s Into The Word devotional podcast on the TGC Canada website see here. You can also find it on iTunes. To access the entire library of available episodes see here.
N.B. The author released an earlier version of this article as a devotional for Promise Keepers’ Canada.