I think Hosea's pain and humiliation was probably worse than many of the horrible things that happened to others. The betrayal by someone so close to you is extremely painful for a long time whether it be a spouse, a love interest, a best friend or a family member. Someone that you have loved, cared for and been willing to do almost anything for has turned their back on you and turned their attention to someone else. Most of us have felt this pain in some way and God is using it to testify to how he feels when His people turn to other gods. God had promised prosperity and peace if Israel would follow Him, and yet He finds them continually turning to Baal and Asherah. No wonder we read such harsh language in the prophets concerning the punishment and destruction of Israel and other countries. They were all adulterers! A strong term that was meant to wake them and us up!
Now, as I think of our own situation, I turn to God's message to Edom:
Obadiah 1:3. The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, 'Who can bring me down to the ground?'
It makes me think of the arrogance of the greatest country in the world, the United States. Our people typically think of our nation as indestructible as we move further and further away from our faith in God. I love my country, but how harsh would the Lord's message be for our nation today?
But I also want to look at these passages from a personal perspective. Maybe I don't worship idols of other gods, but much of God's disgust with His people was directed at their lack of trust in Him. He repeatedly denounces Israel's dependence on alliances with Egypt and other nations. Do I too often put my trust in my 401K, my own wisdom, or my abilities? Do I put God as the highest priority in my life or is my focus on work advancement, getting more material things, my own enjoyment or my status?
So, as we read through God's passionate and harsh messages for Israel and other countries, let's be mindful of our own treatment of His word and His desires for our lives. It's obvious how terrible His justice can be for those that turn away from Him. But intertwined with the harsh judgment is God's continued urge for His people to return to Him and be blessed. The greatest news for us is that this deserved punishment is taken away by our faith in Jesus Christ. As demonstrated by Hosea's reconciliation with his wife, God's unfailing love allows Him to accept us back regardless of how often we have been adulterous followers. Whenever we turn back to God, we see Him running to meet us with open arms. What amazing grace and mercy - God be praised!