Steve Ellison | Theology Columnist
Jehovah, the God of the Bible, the covenant God of Israel, is a mysterious being whom we can know but not fully know, at least not here and now. That mysteriousness adds to His splendor. God is both transcendent and immanent. He is with us and yet beyond our comprehension. The divine, special revelation of God given in the Bible reveals Him but not completely. The Bible itself is mysterious and the ministry of the Holy Spirit is needed for us to truly understand its message. These truths are not troubling. Rather, they are beautiful and enthralling.
The man Hosea and the book called by his name provide one of these mysterious looks at God. The strange and difficult task given to Hosea illustrates God as the broken-hearted lover of our souls. This illustration leads us to ask how the sovereign creator and sustainer of the universe can be brought to a place of being broken hearted by one of His creatures. How can the one in whom there is no change be affected in such a way? I cannot answer those questions but I can appreciate the picture of God that is painted in the book of Hosea.
Hosea 11:7-9 is a particularly poignant passage, “So My people are bent on turning from Me. Though they call them to the One on high, None at all exalts Him. 8 How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned over within Me, All My compassions are kindled. 9 I will not execute My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again. For I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, And I will not come in wrath.” (NASU) The wordplay in this passage regarding “turning” is significant, beautiful and heartbreaking. God began by letting His people know that He was fully aware that they were dead-set on turning away from Him. God’s declaration that His people were asking Him for blessing yet none of them were exalting Him is eerily similar to us today. We present grocery list prayers to God but fail to acknowledge Him as Lord over all parts of life.
God compared His people with Admah and Zeboiim, which were cities of the plain completely destroyed along with Sodom and Gomorrah. God’s justice is holy, righteous and impartial and demands satisfaction in keeping with His holiness and yet His love for His people seeks another solution. God’s next statement is startling and lovely, “My heart is turned over within Me, All My compassions are kindled. I will not execute My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again.” How can God’s heart be turned over within Him?! The Hebrew word which we have translated “turned over” is exactly the same word used to describe the destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim in Genesis 19. How can my sin bring about such an emotion, such an effect on the heart of our Sovereign God? I cannot answer that but I can see a loving God who goes to the greatest lengths possible to keep from destroying Israel and me. In order to satisfy both His love and His holiness, God poured out His wrath on His Only Begotten Son. God’s heart turned over within Him is a picture that cannot be explained but surely adds to His majesty. God’s turned over heart produced the greatest display of amazing love that could ever be. Worship is the only proper response. ..……….email@example.com