Hear this, you priests! Pay attention, you Israelites! Listen, royal house! This judgment is against you: You have been a snare at Mizpah, a net spread out on Tabor. The rebels are knee-deep in slaughter. I will discipline all of them. I know all about Ephraim; Israel is not hidden from me. Ephraim, you have now turned to prostitution; Israel is corrupt. Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. A spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the Lord. Israel’s arrogance testifies against them; the Israelites, even Ephraim, stumble in their sin; Judah also stumbles with them. When they go with their flocks and herds to seek the Lord,
they will not find him; he has withdrawn himself from them. They are unfaithful to the Lord; they give birth to illegitimate children. When they celebrate their New Moon feasts, he will devour[a] their fields. Sound the trumpet in Gibeah, the horn in Ramah. Raise the battle cry in Beth Aven lead on, 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. - Hosea 5:1-14

Typically when I read something similar to Hosea 5, I have an inclination to classify God’s actions under “Old Testament God.” While I’ve heard countless times that God’s character is constant and never changing (James 1:17 is one of many examples), it’s very difficult to not delineate some form of variation from a God that shows His wrath and a God that is full of mercy. Often times I see “OT God” as vengeful and full of wrath and “NT God” as merciful and full of grace. However, not only is this delineation false, it causes a huge misunderstanding of the goodness of God’s character.

The entire passage of Hosea 5 discusses the curse and wrath the Israelites have brought upon themselves by being unfaithful to God. Hosea essentially is reciting a poetic call of wrath upon the Israelites from God. As I read through these verses, I find it difficult to understand how God, the one who sent Jesus - the one that loves all (John 3:16-17), can be so full of wrath. However, a huge piece of understand the OT is understanding the context in which it was written. While it is commonly much easier to see application and understanding based on NT passages (like Paul’s letters or the Gospels), so too is the OT immensely important for understanding God’s true character.

Earlier in the OT, in chapters 19 through 24 of Exodus, God makes a covenant (promise) on Mt. Sinai with Moses, often referred to as the Mosaic Covenant or the Old Covenant (common name in the NT). In Exodus 19, God makes clear the importance of the Israelites obedience, and the Israelites agree to be faithful to their promise. Later in the OT, in Deuteronomy 28, the details of the blessings and curses associated with this covenant are explained. It’s important to know that the Israelites were in full understanding and agreement with the entire covenant/promise they made with God.

So what can you take from this? I find it incredibly helpful to see God’s faithfulness (despite the difference in form it seems to sometimes take) throughout scripture. While we don’t live under the Mosaic Covenant (because of Jesus and His sacrifice) God is still faithful to His promises in our lives. As you reflect on today’s passage focus on promises God has made to you (either in scripture or things He may have spoken over you). As you pray, ask God to share with you a promise He has for you to live in today. Listen to see what He may have to give to you, and then step boldly into that today. He’s faithful, so listen and trust what He has is good.

- Logan Johnson