But I am the Lord your God
from the land of Egypt;
you know no God but me,
and besides me there is no savior.
It was I who knew you in the wilderness,
in the land of drought;
but when they had grazed, they became full,
they were filled, and their heart was lifted up;
therefore they forgot me.
So I am to them like a lion;
like a leopard I will lurk beside the way.
I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs;
I will tear open their breast,
and there I will devour them like a lion,
as a wild beast would rip them open. Hosea 13:4-8 ESV
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. I John 1:5-10 ESV
Many of the world’s lions live on the continent of Africa. They live on grassy plains and in open woodlands. Most lions, except for young males, don’t live alone, but instead they live in groups called prides. Did you know that almost all of the hunting is done by female lions? Male lions patrol and guard their pride, but the hunting is done by the females. Lions often hunt at night, and they often work together to bring down their prey. Often a lion’s prey can outrun a lion, so several lions work together to creep up on their prey in a semicircle. This cuts off the other animal’s escape.
The prophet Hosea said several times that God is like a lion. In today’s reading he compared the people of Israel to a lion’s prey that came out of Egypt and out of the wilderness to the promised land, and grazed on the good blessings the Lord gave them, and became slow and fat. They forgot about God in the middle of all the blessings he had given them. So God spoke through Hosea to give them the scary message that he would hunt and attack and kill them like a lion or another ferocious animal attacks its prey.
The prophet Hosea sometimes spoke of God as a loving and forgiving father, and sometimes as an angry judge who would punish his people for their sins. It can be confusing to try to understand what God is like when there are different pictures like this. The best way to understand is that God is angry about sin and needs to punish it, but he also is a loving Father who wants to forgive and help his people. When God sent Jesus to die on the cross, we can see both of these ideas in one place. On the cross Jesus took all the anger and punishment for all the sins of the world, and because Jesus died for us God forgives us for our sins and loves us and calls us his children. The only people who will know God’s punishment are those who don’t want what Jesus did for them and think they can take care of themselves and their own sin. Hosea said that the heart of the people Israel was “lifted up.” They were proud and didn’t want God’s help or forgiveness. But anyone who trusts what Jesus did for them will know God’s love and mercy, now and forever.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to be our Savior and for making us your children. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.