And she conceived again and bore a daughter. Then God said to him:
“ Call her name Lo-Ruhamah,
For I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel,
But I will utterly take them away.
Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah,
Will save them by the LORD their God,
And will not save them by bow,
Nor by sword or battle,
By horses or horsemen.” (Hosea 1:6,7 NKJV)
We are continuing on in the book of Hosea, and looking at couple of things in verses 6 and 7. After being blown away by the depth of verse 4 alone, I was literally bubbling over with excitement to look at what God had in store next, and I was not disappointed. As I read ahead about the next child bore to Hosea, Lo-Ruhamah (Meaning No-Mercy), the first thing that jumped out at me was Judah being shown mercy, and not Israel. Why was Judah benefitting from the mercy of God, and not Israel? That doesn’t seem fair, but I know that God is just, so there had to be an answer. Secondly, what does God mean when he says He “will save them by the LORD their God”? Again, a little research into the books of Kings and Chronicles would absolutely blow my mind.
First off, I wanted to know why Israel was being chastised, seemingly severely, by God via the Assyrians, and not Judah. I needed to understand that although the punishment recapped in 2 Kings 17 was indeed severe, the punishment was also completely called for and righteous. As it says in 2 Kings 17:7-8, “For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and they had feared other gods, and had walked in the statutes of the nations whom the LORD had cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.” The people had forsaken the Lord even after all He had done for them, and after all the prophets He had sent them, such as Isaiah and Elijah. And although God takes no pleasure in death (Ezekiel 18:19-32, Matthew 23:37), they had refused to walk with God at every turn, therefore they had to be judged. Israel had every opportunity to turn from their sins, and God wanted them to come to him desperately, but they refused.
(Side Note: Such is the case with people today. God gives every person every opportunity to turn from their sins, and give their life to Jesus, but he does not force anyone to come to Him. We all have our desire fulfilled in the end: Either to be with God, or to be separated from Him for all eternity.)
So, what about Judah? Just a quick run through the scriptures will tell us they had sinned against the Lord as well, yet they were spared this judgement from God while Israel was not. Something was brought to my attention while I was reading through David Guzik’s commentary on Hosea that I had not thought about previously. The thought that caused me to pause and think was the definition of mercy. Mercy by definition is not earned. Guzik says, ” It does not really matter if Judah was more worthy of mercy than Israel was, because by its very nature mercy is mercy. If one deserves leniency, then leniency is a matter of justice, not mercy. Mercy is only shown to the guilty. Therefore it is within the wise and loving heart of God to show mercy to whom He will show mercy (Romans 9:15). But no one is ever unfair for not showing mercy.” So, really who am I to cry unfair when God is all-knowing, all-wise, knows exactly the best course of action to have the most people brought to Him, and execute perfect judgement. Just writing that makes me feel pretty silly for even questioning God, but that is the great thing about God; He wants us to get to know Him more and more, invites questions of Him, and even rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
Yet, there is something to Judah being spared in this situation. During the time of the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, Israel was perpetually ruled by kings that did not walk with the LORD their God, while Judah was somewhat hit or miss with kings that walked with God and those who did not. Their current prophecy of Hosea is going to take place at a time in which Judah was being ruled by one of the kings that walked with God: Hezekiah. I firmly believe that one of the reasons Judah was delivered was because when Judah was being besieged by the Assyrians, Hezekiah humbled himself and sought the Lord for help (2 Kings 18,19). More simply put, Judah was delivered because Hezekiah prayed. While Israel had been carried away by their unfaithfulness, Judah tore their clothes, covered themselves with Ashes (Ancient tradition symbolic for mourning and humility), went to the Lord, and prayed. This coupled with the arrogant boasting of the Assyrians against the God of Israel, and the abundant mercy of God leads to Israel being miraculously spared the judgement of God.
Now, as we move on to verse 7 of Hosea 1, we look at how God did in fact miraculously deliver Judah from the Assyrians. Remember God said through Hosea, “Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, “Will save them by the LORD their God, And will not save them by bow, Nor by sword or battle, By horses or horsemen.” To get a some perspective of the situation, the Assyrians had already taken most of the nations around Judah, including all of the northern tribes, the Babylonians, as well as all the fortified cities of Judah when they decided to besiege Jerusalem. Hezekiah had been so afraid of the Assyrians that 2 Kings 18:16 tells us, “At that time Hezekiah stripped the gold from the doors of the temple of the LORD, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.” So, Jerusalem is being besieged by the mighty Assyrians who even taunt the Judeans at the wall, and mock God’s ability to deliver them. Then after Hezekiah turns to the Lord and prays, God promises to deliver them, and soon after God does this as shown in 2 Kings 19:35-37, “And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh. Now it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the temple of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. Then Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.” (NKJV). This is the most amazing thing to me. God had promised to show mercy to Judah, and to deliver them, but not by any human means, and did so years before this event actually happened. Yet, the events described come to pass more accurately than ever could have been imagined! The worthiness, reliability, and accuracy of the Word of God is just amazing.
The main thing that all of this reinforces in me is that The Word of God is to be trusted in, and leaned upon in every situation, and at all times no matter what the circumstances around us are telling us. I know the Word of God is true, but when I test, and look into, the Word of God it just reinforces my faith, and brings the Word to an even more tangible place in my heart. So, I encourage everyone to dive in to the Word of God, to be passionate about getting to know God, and see just how amazing our Lord is.
May God bless you, and cause you to grow in His Word and love.