Today’s reading is Hosea 13:1-16.

One of our constant prayers we share in our house is that we would turn to the Lord not only in times of trouble, but not lose sight & never stop rejoicing in Him even when things are good. This prayer takes inspiration from the repeated pattern of Israel’s behavior throughout the Old Testament, when things were tough and they needed deliverance, from their enemies or their hunger or other physical needs, they would pray and ask God for help. But when things were good and they were comfortable, they’d turn to idolatry, immorality, and the whole gamut of human sin. This pattern of behavior certainly continues today with many people, but reading and praying on Hosea 13 reminds me of the certain doom that awaits those who fall into this trap. I’ll let you read some of the verses from this passage yourself drawing analogies of God’s judgement on His people who have turned to sin, like verse 8 and 16. Warning: they’re brutal. Not something anyone would look forward to.

The truth that God’s wrath will be opened full force against the sinful is no hidden fact. Romans 1:18 says, “for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” And Isaiah 13:9, on the fall of Babylon: “Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it.” Hosea 13:1-2 describes the sad state of those exalted, once set aside for God, in their complacency turning away from His grace and accepting these things instead. It is a trap we must all recognize awaits when not alert of temptation as 1 Peter 5:8 warns us.

But the joy in this reminder is that as mighty as the wrath of God is, even greater is His love and mercy for us. Going back Wednesday to Hosea 11, this same God who pours out such incredible devastation against His enemies also so deeply loves us and holds compassion for us, offering joy and eternity instead of damnation. That’s where our faith comes from: not for fear from His boundless reprisal, but from amazement at His love even greater than that. And when the love of God is so great compared to the fleeting comfort of idols and trivialities we can build up for ourselves, how can we possibly refuse?

Paul quotes Hosea 13:14 in 1 Corinthians 15:55 when he says this: “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” While death and misery surely await those opposed to God’s will, He has given us a golden ticket available every day of our life. It is through Jesus and His blood poured out for us that we have any hope of being spared the well-deserved wrath of God, that the sacrifice of the Lamb of God would take away our sins. As Romans 5:9 put it: “since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” I pray today for the vigilance against the temptations of the world that turn us away from the grace and glory of God; not only to have this awareness when I am tempted when weak, but to remember His deliverance from those dark times when all is well. I thank God for deliverance from the sting of death through His son Jesus Christ, and no matter what earthly destructions try to distract us from that fact, for the wisdom and discernment to recognize & pursue His truth always.