God speaks through Hosea (one of the Minor Prophets) in the verses before this one, outlining the major flaw in Israel’s national thinking: the Israelites think they don’t need Him anymore. But here, God reminds them sharply that no matter how much power they’ve invested in other things, HE is still in control.
Israel During the Time of Hosea
Wealth and other gods have replaced God in importance in Israel at the time of Hosea’s writing, and no Israelite thinks to turn aside from this course, which is proving destructive and near-catastrophic to the social and political systems (not to mention the spiritual system!). Things are falling apart faster than the Israelites can put them back together; during this time, 4 kings of the Northern Kingdom were assassinated by their eventual successors, and Assyria (east of Israel) was beginning to dissect the land, leading to the total dissolution of the Northern Kingdom within a short time.
In other parts of the Book of Hosea, God explains why He is allowing this to happen. God is not disowning His people permanently; rather, this is akin to a divine spanking. Israel has been unfaithful and blasphemous, following false gods and forgetting the name of God. God, as the divine parent, realizes that this is a self-destructive course for His people. Thus, He must try to turn Israel’s thinking through prophets (like Hosea).
Much like today’s parents struggle to help their children when they become addicted to substances, God wanted Israel to become whole and healthy again and drop its addiction to other gods. But it had to have a wake-up call first, a true “divine intervention;” Israel had to see that it had sinned as a nation when it turned aside from God.
God will never force His way into our lives, but He will use even the Satan-caused tragedies in our lives to teach us how much we need Him, turning sorrow to a good end by showing us how much He wants us to rely on Him and how much He longs for us to return to Him. God speaks in this book as a brokenhearted parent, reminiscing about Israel before its addiction to other gods, childlike and faithful; He longs for that time to return, and knows that it can, but only when Israel’s mindset changes.
The Occasional Hard Lesson
Sometimes, God has to remind us just Who’s in charge, especially when we start thinking we control all of what happens in our lives. When we rely on power, money, social esteem, or even our own “good judgment” to determine our life’s course, we almost inevitably turn away from what God wills. Sometimes, we are as willful as the ancient nation of Israel, and we forget that God does not hesitate to use discipline against us, even if He uses Satan’s chaos as a disciplinary tool. Satan simply looks to turn our lives into chaotic messes; God uses those messes to teach us that we need Him. (I certainly saw this in my failed teaching career–Satan surely had me by the back of the neck, shaking me around, and God was right there, showing me that if I was to be free of that depression and pain, I had to trust God again. I did so, and the depression has been evaporating from my life ever since.)
Don’t think God won’t use whatever He has to use to get through to you. He wants to be reconciled with you, wants to be in your life, wants to be your Heavenly Father. And trust me, it is a much easier road when He is allowed to be that!