Israel, return to the Lord your God,
for you have stumbled in your iniquity.
Take words of repentance with you
and return to the Lord.
Say to him: “Forgive all our iniquity
and accept what is good,
so that we may repay you
with praise from our lips.
Assyria will not save us,
we will not ride on horses,
and we will no longer proclaim, ‘Our gods!’
to the work of our hands.
For the fatherless receives compassion in you.”
I will heal their apostasy;
I will freely love them,
for my anger will have turned from him.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
he will blossom like the lily
and take root like the cedars of Lebanon.
His new branches will spread,
and his splendor will be like the olive tree,
his fragrance, like the forest of Lebanon.
The people will return and live beneath his shade.
They will grow grain
and blossom like the vine.
His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon.
Ephraim, why should I have anything more
to do with idols?
It is I who answer and watch over him.
I am like a flourishing pine tree;
your fruit comes from me.
Any good parent understands what the goal of discipline is. It’s not to beat a child down to the point that they never rise up again. It is to create consequences to help children understand the seriousness of their disobedience. The goal in the end, though, is the see the child change their ways and be better in the long-run from the experience.
In the same way, the book of Hosea closes with a call to repentance and a promise of restoration. That was the goal of this whole story. God’s desire was to see Israel leave behind their idols so that He can restore their land back to a prosperous place with a bountiful harvest. God’s heart is always to give good gifts to His children and not to punish them.
When we experience God’s discipline in our lives we need to remember that it is for our growth and to bring better things into our lives. The writer of Hebrews tells us that God disciplines us “for our benefit, so that we can share his holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Restoration and growth is God’s desire for us.
- How do you respond when you experience discipline for God?