Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
whoever is discerning, let him know them;
for the ways of the Lord are right,
and the upright walk in them. . . — Hosea 14:9
When I began to study Hosea, I knew that I would discover treasures of God’s love and mercy in this portion of his holy, inspired, inerrant, and all-sufficient word. But I had no idea the depths into which I was embarking.
We know that God is love. We know that, because of his great love God gave his one and only Son to save sinners and make them his children. If we study the ‘math’ of redemption long enough, at some point, it all adds up. We are sinners. Sinners cannot earn salvation. But, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). So Jesus came, lived a perfect life, paid for our sins by his death on the cross—the death we deserved—and all who believe in him by faith are forgiven their sins, clothed in his righteousness, and receive eternal life. This is the great and glorious truth of the gospel: the Great Exchange. When we grasp it, it makes sense, in a way. By God’s great love and mercy, sinners are saved.
But in Hosea we see the other side of the equation, and suddenly, our math is thrown all out of whack.
In Hosea we see the depth, depravity, and destructiveness of the sin in which we are living when God finds us. Yes, Paul tells us in Ephesians that “we were dead in the trespasses and sins in which we once walked, following the course of the world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph. 2:1-3). I can recite that all day long as justification for our inability to earn salvation and our need for God to intervene.
But in Hosea these trespasses and sins, these passions of our flesh, and the desires of the body and the mind are spelled out in horrifying technicolor. We see not only how destructive our sins are to ourselves and one another, but how absolutely offensive they are to our God. In Hosea we cannot escape the righteousness of God’s wrath against sinful mankind. The question becomes not, “Why I need God to save me,” but, “Why would he save me?”!
This, my friends, is the magnificence of Hosea. By showing us the inescapable and hopeless darkness of our plight, the glory of God’s grace in salvation shines all the brighter. And thus Paul, writing of the grace that was given him to preach “the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God,” in his next breath shares that the purpose of the gospel is “that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:8-11). God did not look at us in our sin and see “potential.” He didn’t see an atom of deserving. He didn’t see a “darling wretch.” He saw a rebel. An enemy. A Whore. We are therefore trophies of God’s glorious grace. Through our salvation his bewildering and compassionate wisdom is displayed to all the universe, and the angels and the demons stand amazed. Saving a wretch like me, and like you, is always and everywhere “to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:14).
Pray With Me
And so, now that we have explored the depth and offense of our sins, and the magnificence of the glorious grace by which God has saved everyone to whom he gives faith to believe in his Son, Jesus Christ, let us pray with the apostle Paul:
O God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, please give us the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of our hearts enlightened, that we may know what is the hope to which you have called us, what are the riches of your glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of your power toward us who believe, according to the working of your great might that you worked in Christ when you raised him from the dead and seated him at your right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. You put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all! — Ephesians 1:17-23, paraphrased