Would Jesus Forsake a Believer Who Worships Other Gods?

Question:  According to Hosea 5:6, 9-11, and 14 God withdraws, removes protection, pours out wrath, tears to pieces because He is ticked off at Israel’s spirit of prostitution.  Is it fair to say, even in light of the cross, that God still does all those things to believers who are operating out of a spirit of prostitution?

Answer:  Hosea is prophesying against idolatrous Israel.  His own marriage becomes a parable of how Israel has been unfaithful to Yahweh, her husband.  He (Yahweh and Hosea) must “wall in” (3:6) his wife (Israel and Gomer) until she can be faithful again.  She is caught up in a spirit of prostitution (4:12; 5:4).

The specific actions described in chapter 5 are consistent with God’s covenant agreement with Israel as found in Leviticus 26, a series of punishments for covenant unfaithfulness ranging from disease, crop failure, wild animal infestations, plague, sieges by other nations and eventually exile from the land.  Hosea’s prophecy reflects this last stage where God is ready to abandon the nation to exile from the land.  This is the final warning, so to speak.

Now we must understand that Israel stands in a covenant relationship with Yahweh and there is both a conditional and unconditional aspect to it.  When God made the covenant with Abraham it was in response to Abraham’s believing God’s promise that He would give Abraham a son and make him a great nation.  Abraham believed God and He credited that to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).  Abraham was saved by faith.  Then He instructed Abraham to cut several animals in half and arrange them on the ground so they could be walked between.  This was a common way for two parties to make an agreement, in essence saying, this is what will happen to you if you fail the agreement.  But Yahweh then put Abraham to sleep and in the form of a smoking firepot and flaming torch He alone walked between the pieces.  He alone held Himself responsible for fulfilling the promise of the covenant.

Nevertheless, successive generations must be in compliance with the covenant requirements (the laws God gives them) in order to gain the promises.  In various generations it may be that nearly the whole nation consists of unbelievers.  God always maintains a remnant of believers (Isaiah 1:9, this is part of God’s way of unconditionally maintaining the nation’s existence for Abraham’s sake), but when the majority are unbelievers there is a needed response of judgment.  Yet, one day, God will restore the nation as a whole to faith (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 37; Romans 11:25-32).  He will “circumcise” the hearts of His people to enable them to keep the covenant and thus receive the promise (Deuteronomy 30:6).

Consequently, when we see these judgments against the nation of Israel, we cannot make a one-to-one correlation with them and individual believers today.  No believer can ever be forsaken by the Lord (Hebrews 13:5; John 10:27-30; Romans 8, etc.).  A believer might develop a spirit of prostitution, but God will discipline us (Hebrews 12) to bring us back to a proper relationship with Him.  Believers will persevere in faith.

Randall Johnson

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