Oh, how can I give you up, Israel?
How can I let you go?
How can I destroy you like Admah
or demolish you like Zeboiim?
My heart is torn within me,
and my compassion overflows.
9 No, I will not unleash my fierce anger.
I will not completely destroy Israel,
for I am God and not a mere mortal.
I am the Holy One living among you,
and I will not come to destroy
The Ancient Greek philosophers believed that the Gods were impassable which in part meant that they couldn’t experience emotions.
Meanwhile in another part of the Mediterranean world there was a very different understanding of God.
The God of Israel says to His people about their behaviour, “My heart is torn within me,”
This God can’t look at what is happening in the world with detachment, indifference, or apathy. He cares too much. He gets emotional over what He sees.
Earlier in this chapter in Hosea the Lord had spoken about how we would judge His people for their sins but now He says something I find frankly astonishing. The Lord God Almighty, says that His love and justice are tearing His heart apart. He can’t ignore His people’s sin and yet He can’t stop loving them despite their sin. Our God is a personal God who sometimes experiences conflicting emotions as He participates in the ups and downs of life with us His people.
I think if you are a parent you can understand what the Lord is saying He is experiencing. We love our children but sometimes their behaviour breaks our heart and even angers us at other times we feel almost overwhelmed by the love we have for them. God experiences and expresses in the book of Hosea both affection for and anger about His people.
What I think we don’t understand very well is that God’s anger is actually an expression of love. Its not about Him losing His temper or have bad tempered outburst. Because God loves us, because He loves people, the impact of sin on people angers Him.
Here is how one theologian explains it:
God’s anger is an expression of His love and holiness when confronted with sin, with betrayal, with disobedience. Holiness necessarily expresses anger when it is confronted by what is unholy. Although the love a husband has for his wife does not necessarily include anger, you better believe if another man threatens his wife, the love the husband has for her naturally gets expressed through anger toward her assailant. A mother’s love for her children also doesn’t necessarily involve anger, but if the kids are in danger, the mama bear claws instinctively show themselves.
Here is a thought I want to you to ponder today. Your actions impact the heart of God.
You can bring delight and disappointment to God’s heart, provoke His anger, and stir His love. God cares deeply about who you are and what you do. He gets emotional about you. What emotions do you think you have been stirring in God’s heart over the last 48 hours?
(NB The Lord definitively resolves this tension between His anger at our sin and His love for us as sinners through the Cross where His love and anger meet and are perfectly satisfied)