Text: Hosea 5:1-15, 2 Kings 17:19-20, Jeremiah 2:26-28
I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.
– Hosea 5:15
At first reading, Hosea 5 may make you tremble. After all, we can see ourselves in Israel—in their disobedience, idolatry, pride, and in their choosing man over God. God’s wrath is evident in the text.
God knows that Israel’s pride of earthly blessings and accomplishments has hardened their hearts towards seeking him. Interestingly, although God has blessed them with these things, Israel turns to other kings for guidance and protection. The people have decided that turning to sinful man is easier than repenting and returning to their Lord. (I don’t know about you, but this starting to sound like someone I know. Ahem.) Hosea writes, “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.” (5:4 NIV)
God decrees that He will be present in their secret and public judgements (5:12, 14), that Israel will stumble in its wickedness (5:5), and that He will forsake them (5:6). Reading these verses makes me cringe. They seem so harsh, so bare, so exposed.
But then we read the end. “Then I will return to my lair until they have borne their guilt and seek my face—in their misery they will earnestly seek me.” (Hosea 5:15 NIV)
The seeking was the point all along.
Imagine if Israel was someone you cared so deeply for that you could never let her go. You would do anything for her, but she continually turns away from you. God knows that Israel will turn to Him again, but they will do so in unhappiness, in need. As in so many times before, God’s people will only seek His face when they are at rock bottom. Like a wise parent with an unruly child, He has to let them turn away so that they can turn back (2 Kings 17:19-20 NLT).
Would He love to see them have it all and praise Him for it? Of course. To be blessed abundantly, beyond their wildest dreams, and still turn to Him with their needs and their worship? Absolutely. Does Israel ever stay with God when they’re on top of the world? (Jeremiah 2:27 NLT)
So God waits. He watches us with sadness, with righteous anger, with tender grief for all we must go through again. When we return to Him broken, with hands out, He holds us close. He starts over again, patiently teaching us about His love and our need to obey and be humbled.
Let’s turn to Him now, friends, wherever we may be. Let’s seek His face and open our hands and receive our Heavenly Father’s relentless love. He’s had His eye on you all along.