As I look at Hosea chapter 3, I’m trying to get my head around this question: How does God respond when He has good reason to write people off? Listen to God’s words, “The Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or idol. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the LORD and to his blessings in the last days.” Hosea 3: 4-5
God was going to allow Israel to pass through a season when everything familiar to her would be removed. Israel would go “without king or prince”, meaning their civil government would disappear. They would go without “sacrifice or sacred stones”, meaning their rituals of worship would disappear. They would go without “ephod or idols,” meaning all their articles of worship would disappear. Everything that had become familiar to Israel (good and/or bad) would completely disappear.
History tells us God’s prediction became Israel’s reality. Hosea became the last in line of 3 prophets who, over the course of 300 years, had pleaded with the people to turn back to God. But Israel refused to respond, and so God allowed the Assyrian empire to come and wipe out everything that was familiar to them: civil government, Baal worship, Yahweh-God worship. There was nothing left! But it all happened for a redemptive purpose. According to verse 5 Israel would, at some point, return once again to seek after God. All of the disruption and peril would leave them “trembling” (literally “quake in awe”) before God, and longing to return once again to His blessing. Verse 5 paints a picture of people coming to their senses, and realizing no other goodness that can compare to God’s goodness. Israel deserved to be written off by God, and for a time it would feel as if that’s exactly what God had chosen to do, but God was removing everything in order to bring Israel back as willing (rather than reluctant) participants in the experience of His goodness. This is another important observation about God – He let’s the consequences of our choices spin us around back towards Him, and convince us that His way is best!
Think about it. When do we usually realize what is best in our life? I’ve noticed we don’t realize how good we have it when we’re getting more and more of all the things that we want for ourselves. I’ve noticed we realize how good we have it when everything is taken away. When everything we’ve been enjoying is taken away, we start thinking like sane people who can grasp what is really valuable, what is, and is not truly good. You see, God has this habit of being incredibly long-suffering in His willingness to butt-out, and let our decisions produce consequences that will wake us up, and spin us around back to the glory and the goodness of Him. The question is – How low do we have to go, and how long will it have to take, before we realize God’s goodness is far better than any other offer out there?