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Hosea 13 marks a final shift in the book. After the introductory, narrative section in the opening three chapters, chapters 4–12 contain, in essence, the Lord’s case against Israel. In that middle section, he delivers a series of accusations and pronounces them to be guilty of covenant unfaithfulness. In chapter 13, he pronounces irreversible judgement upon his people, while issuing a plea to return to him in the closing chapter.

Chapter 13 opens with a final reminder of Israel’s guilt before the Lord (vv. 1–3), despite the Lord’s kindness to them (vv. 4–6). In vv. 7–8, the Lord promises them that he will fall on them like a devouring lion and vv. 9–16 show the inescapable nature of the judgement.

The central theme in this chapter is God’s care for his people. We see his care manifested in at least four ways in this chapter, corresponding to the four major sections noted above.

First, God’s care is seen in the fact that he confronts his people in their sin (vv. 1–3). Most of us shy away from confrontation. The very word has negative a connotation. The Bible makes the point, however, that confrontation, properly motivated, is good and loving. Indeed, the famed golden rule (Matthew 7:12) is given in the context of confrontation. There, Jesus teaches that we must confront sin unhypocritically (vv. 1–7), carefully (v. 6), and prayerfully (vv. 7–11). He then says, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (v. 12). Contextually, his point is that we should confront sin in others in the same way and with the same motives that we wish to be confronted.

Confrontation is good and necessary if we will grow in holiness. We cannot grow to be more like Christ unless we are willing to be confronted in sin. If we desire to progress in Christlikeness (and that is the desire of every Christian!), we must allow others to point out sin in our lives so we can correct it. Confrontation, therefore, is caring, because the heart of the confronter is holiness.

God cares enough to confront his people in their sin. He knows that Christlikeness is best for them and, caring enough to want what is best for them, he confronts them in their sin.

Second, God’s care is seen in the fact that he is unfailingly kind to his people (vv. 4–6). God saved and sustained Israel, even though they responded to his kindness with arrogance. He similarly saves and sustains us today. There is no more caring act—no greater act of kindness—than salvation granted and sustained. The gospel is the ultimate act of kindness.

Third, God’s care is seen in the fact that he himself was the instrument of Israel’s judgement (vv. 7–8). David once displayed an act of distrust in the Lord when he numbered his army, displaying faith in his forces rather than his God. He was soon convicted and confessed his sin. The Lord told David that he would punish him and told him to choose between one of three sources of punishment: famine, military defeat, or pestilence. David replied, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man” (2 Samuel 24:14). He knew that it was better to fall under God’s punishment than human punishment because God is far kinder than humans.

Though punishment is never pleasant, it is a source of comfort to know that we are punished by God for, as David said, “his mercy is great.” Facing a hungry lion, an angry leopard, or a bereaved bear was no fun prospect, but at least Israel knew that the Lord was the instrument of their judgement. When God punishes, there is hope of renewal because he is gracious and forgiving. His care is displayed even in his chastening.

Fourth, God’s care is seen in the fact that he will not allow his people to go unpunished (vv. 9–16). This may sound initially counterintuitive, but it is beyond dispute that God’s chastening is evidence of his care. When he chastens, he treats us as children. His chastening is evidence of his fatherly care for us (Hebrews 12:5–11), just as it was evidence of his care for Israel.

How sad that Israel responded to God’s care with arrogance rather than humility and with forgetfulness rather than reverence. How often we are guilty of the same!

As you meditate on Hosea 13 this morning, repent of your arrogance in the face of God’s care and ask for help to respond to him in humility and obedience as he reveals evidence of his care for you.