Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday afternoon's sermon on Hosea 13.
But when he offended in Baal, he died (Hosea 13:1b).
O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help (Hosea 13:9).
The opening verse in Hosea 13 is an obituary, a death notice for Ephraim. It begins in v. 1a with a description of Ephraim in her better, younger years when she spoke with fear and trembling before the LORD and was exalted. Then in v. 1b, Hosea notes that when Ephraim “offended in Baal” (offended the Lord by embracing Baal worship), “he died.” Israel experienced spiritual death and then later national death and destruction.
In Hosea 4:4, however, the LORD reminds Israel of how he brought them out of bondage from Egypt, declaring, “for there is no saviour beside me.”
Hosea 13:9a expresses the heart of this chapter, as it conveys the central theme of self-destruction: “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself.” That word of judgement, however, is followed by a word of hope: “but in me is thine help” (v. 9b).
That hope comes to full bloom in Hosea 13:14a: “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction.” The apostle Paul echoes this in 1 Corinthians 15:55 when he writes, “O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?” The obituary notice (v. 1) has become a resurrection notice (v. 14).
Hosea 13:14 ends with the statement: “repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.” What does that mean? One might initially think it means God will not see Israel’s repentance. But the Puritan exegete Matthew Poole points out that “repentance” does not refer here to man’s repentance but to God’s. The point is that the LORD will never “repent,” that is change his word or his mind or his promises toward the elect. Poole: “this grace toward the godly, toward believers among Israel and in the church, through all ages, is unchangeable.”
Hosea 13 ends with hope for the elect in Israel. The Lord does not repent of his love for the saints. As one preacher put it, He has never torn up the birth certificate of any of his spiritual children. Though we do that which is self-destructive, in him is our help (v. 9b). He will ransom us from the power of the grave. There is salvation in none other. All praise be to him alone.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle