God’s Case Against Israel
Open Your Bible
Hosea 4:1-19, Hosea 5:1-15, Romans 2:1-4, Revelation 3:19
We picked out the brown velvet curtains at Ikea not long after we got married, and hemmed them with the iron-on adhesive strip that came in the package. They hung in our first home and then in our second, even though they were about a foot too short with the higher ceilings and taller windows. I always meant to get around to changing them, or at least mending the falling-out hem, but come 2009, I decided I didn’t mind.
She was two years old that year, with wild, thin hair that stuck straight up and a smile so bright it could knock you out. Those too-short curtains were the perfect hiding place for her new favorite game: hide and seek.
I have a few precious minutes of video of the usual scene: our little girl hiding conspicuously behind the brown dining room curtains, her pink sneakers poking out at the bottom and her giggle audible from the other side of the room. Her papa would sneak up slowly and the giggles would get louder, and she would squeal with delight as he threw back the curtain. Hiding was fun, but the true joy was in being found.
Hosea 5 is a painful read. Israel was playing hide and seek with her God, but this was no game. The people’s very lives were at stake, yet they kept turning to idols, a choice that reaped only destruction and desolation.
God warned them through the prophet. His tone, gentle and wooing in the first chapters, became booming, insistent, and firm. The call from the Lord was clear: Return. In running, only disaster and sure destruction awaited.
Yet Israel was “determined to follow what is worthless” (v.11). The sin did not disqualify them from returning and repenting; it kept them from returning and repenting. God’s warning to Israel was His mercy to them; so was His discipline. God turned away so that they might turn back to Him (v.15).
The priests and the people of Israel hid in their idolatry and their sacrifices, hoping their rituals might hide their hearts. But there is no hiding from God. He sees all; and, even more, He knows all (v.3). But as we often do, Israel hid anyway, their tell-tale sneakers sticking out from under the curtains of their sin. We hide, believing we know better, believing we and our “little-g” gods can outsmart the one true God.
We hide, but He seeks us out. He seeks us out so that we will seek Him.
Israel’s attempts at deceiving God resulted in devastation, just as He said it would. But God prowled in guard of her heart, doing whatever it took to frustrate her desires for lesser loves, to thwart her attempts to run and hide (v.14).
Are you hiding today? I am. I feel the Holy Spirit calling my heart to return from places where I’ve gone to hide from my sin, to hide from my own brokenness. Hear our God speak words of hard, merciful truth to us, His children:
I know you, He says. You are not hidden from me.
You turn to false loves, but they cannot cure you. They cannot heal your wounds.
Seek me. Return and repent (vv.3,14–15, my paraphrase).
Dear friend, there is joy in having the darkest parts of our hearts uncovered by our merciful Father. Surrender to the truth that you are known. You’ve been found out, you’ve been found, and you are still loved.