The gospel is all over Hosea. “What?” you ask. “Jesus isn’t even named in Hosea.” I know, but in the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend.”
Hosea 12:2 says, “The LORD has an indictment against Judah.” God has an indictment against us — we sin…a lot. We have committed cosmic treason by totally forsaking God’s rules. We totally offended God by turning our backs on him and saying, “Yeah, thanks but no thanks, God.” So, God, not waiting for us to make the first move, sent his Son to fulfill the requirement that we could not (and did not want) to fill.
Because we couldn’t fill the requirement (i.e. perfection), we deserved to be killed. We deserved the electric chair or gas chamber or worse. That’s how bad we are. In 12:14, God says, “Ephraim has given bitter provocation; so his Lord will leave his bloodguilt on him and will repay him for his disgraceful deeds.” We have made God incredibly irritated with the way we’ve acted. This happened to Israel after Jacob sought his whole life, after starting the 12 tribes of Israel. This happened after Moses led the Israelites out of bondage from a crazy Egyptian dictator. And we have done the same, or dare I say, much worse. Still, while we were enemies, God sent his Son to show us true love, compassion, and grace. We didn’t get God’s repayment for our deeds. Instead of wrath, we got mercy. Christ came. God repaid to Jesus what we were due when he went to the cross. Jesus took our disgraceful deeds and exchanged them for his righteousness, so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). This doesn’t just make it a Christian. It radically transforms the rest of my life in how I respond to and interact with God.
Our response to God’s initiative and grace that he gave us through Jesus’ death is that we “by the help of God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God” (v. 6). God is sovereign and he will help us come to Jesus if indeed he has called us to come to Jesus. And after we trust Jesus and become Christians, we must wait for him to cause us to feel the heat of his word in our lives. You cannot manufacture any affection toward God, either before or after conversion. We might see the light of the sun, but because of our imperfect nature and propensity toward sin, we so often find ourselves in the shadows, shivering, not feeling its heat. We must wait on the Lord and believe that he who has predestined us, also called us, and justified us, and has already glorified us (Rom. 8:30). In the shadows, God calls us to wait, but while waiting, we are to long for him to rescue us. We must go to God, by his help, and in our going we must wait for him to show up. God showing up is what he does best. This is grace. This is who God is. This is the gospel.
As I let the weight of God’s wrath on Jesus sink into my heart, I can’t help but tremble. Every false word, lustful look, greedy thought, jealous action, selfish attitude, and prideful intention put Jesus on the cross. I have given bitter provocation to God. I deserved to be repaid for my disgraceful deeds.
Jesus died because God put him to death. “It was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief” (Isa. 53:10). Jesus died to make people right with God. “The righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous (Isa. 53:11). Jesus died to bring us to God. “He bore the sins of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors (Isa. 53:12).
That’s the gospel. And it’s in Hosea. Actually, it’s on every page and in every word of the Bible.