At the moment, I’m exploring the question – how does God correct people who need correcting? Observe what God says in Hosea 5: 8-15. I warn you that this passage is not easy reading, but it conveys an important part of God’s relentless love for His people.
“Sound the trumpet in Gibeah, the horn in Ramah. Raise the battle cry in Beth Aven; lead on, O Benjamin. Ephraim will be laid waste on the day of reckoning. Among the tribes of Israel I proclaim what is certain. Judah’s leaders are like those who move boundary stones. I will pour out my wrath on them like a flood of water. Ephraim is oppressed, trampled in judgment, intent on pursuing idols. I am like a moth to Ephraim, like rot to the people of Judah. “When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his sores, then Ephraim turned to Assyria, and sent to the great king for help. But he is not able to cure you, not able to heal your sores. For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a great lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces and go away; I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them. Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.”
The blast of a trumpet was the sounding of a warning in Hosea’s time, and God presents His warning of the consequences about to come. Israel was about to be “laid waste.” Why this extreme consequence? God laid out His reasons. First, it was because the leaders of Israel were “like those who move boundary stones.” Jewish law made it very clear that sneaking out at night and moving property boundary stones so as to gain more land was criminal. Well, Israel’s leaders had been shifting spiritual boundaries; making wrongs into rights, making lies into truth, and making false gods real gods. Second, all of the people were intent on “pursuing idols.” The Hebrew word for “idols” reveals God’s contempt for the worship icons of the god Baal because the word literally means “little dung balls.” I love that! Because of all this rebellion, God was going to correct His people. He was going be like a “moth” and like “rot” to the nation of Israel. In other words, God would subversively begin to eat away at everything that had made their sick choices work for them. There would be no more protection from consequences. In addition, God would become “like a lion” – one who actively contended against the destructive thinking and lifestyle of His people until as vs. 15 says they had “born their guilt” or better translated “experienced the full consequences that will lead them to come back and seek my face.” You see, God was saying, “I love you so much I will allow the full brunt of serious consequences to enter the picture and steer you into a life that will bless you rather than destroy you!”
So how does God lovingly correct people who need correcting? God simply disciplines His people when they need it! It’s easy to hear this, and picture God as this person who shouts at us, “Don’t cry kid or I’ll give you something to cry about!” That’s our picture of God because the word “discipline” for so many of us is so connected in our minds with vengeance and punishment, but that’s not the case with God. God brings us to the end of us so that we will finally come to the beginning of Him.