Hosea 13:9

“O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.”

Like most of the prophets, Hosea’s job was to warn Israel against their idolatry. Many verses in Hosea reveal God’s heart about it. For example, consider these verses from Hosea 13:2,3, “And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves. Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney.” Fog, the dew, chaff before a tornado, and smoke are nothing. The fog soon vanishes, the dew evaporates, the chaff can never be found, and smoke is blown away. This was the result they endured for ignoring God.

From the time that Israel left Egypt, God warned them about idolatry. He told them to get rid of the idols of Egypt, which they had brought with them. This is told in Ezekiel 20: 6-8, “…in the day that I lifted up mine hand unto them, to bring them forth of the land of Egypt into a land that I had espied for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands: then said I unto them, Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.  But they rebelled against me, and would not hearken unto me: they did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt…” They did not obey, and Ezekiel, too, was sent to warn them.

Before God, Israel’s situation was dire. And, as Hosea said, they had destroyed themselves: it was of their own making. In spite of God’s frequent warnings, Israel continued rejecting Him. Hebrews 10:31 states, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.” This is where Israel stood before Him. They had ruined themselves. They knew what God expected of them and they turned their back on His ways. When He gave them the 10 commandments, as recorded in Exodus 20, They said, “All that the LORD has said will we do.” But they did not keep that promise. And by the time of Hosea, even long before that, they had destroyed themselves.

To this very day, the Ten Commandments are the standard of behavior which was given by God Himself. While they are actually so much more than that, we know that this is how we ought to behave ourselves. Yet many refuse to obey God’s commands, or acknowledge Him. Jesus said that the greatest commandment is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” (Matthew 22:37) But this command is disobeyed, along with all the others. And what is the result? Mankind is destroying itself. The daily news reveals that this is true. Murder, drug addiction, alcoholism, kidnapping, suicide, and multiple other problems, which are beyond mankind’s ability to repair, are evidence of this fact.

But, continuing in the verse above, God made an appeal to Israel concerning their situation. In the last half of the verse He said, “but in me is thine help.” How astounding! God was the One they had offended. His commandments were what they had broken. He was the one that was replaced when they took up their idolatry. Imagine, changing the living God for a chunk of metal or wood or stone. But His appeal was that they turn to Him: to look to Him for help.

In Amos 4:6-11, the LORD listed a number of trials that He had brought upon Israel. But He ended verses 6, 8, 9, 10, and 11 with, “…yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.” This shows His purpose in sending the trials. His intent was to get them to look to Him. He was seeking to have them turn to Him and away from their idolatry.

This is God’s character. He stands ready to help His people. All He wants is for them to look to Him. The same appeal that ends Hosea 13:9 holds to this day. God is appealing to mankind in the same way He did to Israel. “but in me is thine help.” 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Even to this day He wants people to turn to Him and His ways. And, since He made us, He does know what is best for us.

But, 2 Peter 3:10 brings a warning: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” God has a timetable and a plan for this world. By His plan, events will unfold and this world will come to an end. He will make a new heavens and a new earth. He won’t put off Hs plans forever. Opportunity to turn to Him is limited.

Echoing Hosea 13:9, Jesus said, as recorded in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” God is gracious and kind and good. He yearns for us all to turn to Him no matter what we have done, just as He did in the days of Hosea.

Just as I am—without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come. (Charlotte Elliott)

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