“When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his sores, then Ephraim turned to Assyria, and sent to the great king for help. But he is not able to cure you, not able to heal your sores. For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a great lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces and go away; I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them. Then I will return to my lair until they have borne their guilt and seek my face–in their misery they will earnestly seek me.” Hosea 5:13-15
When Ephraim (Israel) and Judah saw the judgment of God being poured out on them, they turned to the Assyrians for help. In a way it is like in Revelation where the kings of this world join up to fight against God. Will man never learn? Back in Hosea, despite their attempts, Israel and Judah cannot heal themselves, man is not able to produce a cure for what ails them. God says He will carry them off with no one to rescue them. Then He will go back to His place, until they admit their guilt. And they will seek His face; in their misery they will earnestly seek Him. Prophecies often have a primary and secondary meaning. Here, the primary is in the present, in fact, Israel and Judah express repentance in Hosea 6, “Come let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces, but he will heal us; he has injured us, but he will bind up our wounds.” Unfortunately, this repentance is short lived and Israel is later taken into captivity by the Assyrians, the very people they had earlier sought help from against God. That is God’s justice. The secondary meaning in this prophecy may be futuristic. When God says He will go back to my place until they admit their guilt, some say this talks of the current state of Israel, as Romans tells us Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved. So the Jews failure to receive God’s grace because they tried to earn it through the Law led to God’s grace being extended to the Gentiles, which was God’s plan from the beginning. When the current nation of Israel repents and seeks God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, God will fulfill this prophecy. This may usher in the return of Christ. God does cause all things to work together for good, for those that are called according to his purpose.