It is for your destruction, O Israel, that you are against Me, against your help. Hosea 13:9 NASB
Help – Hosea is a prophet of puns. His message is filled with word plays, allusions and odd constructions. In some cases, no scholar today can definitively determine the meaning of Hosea’s words. This verse is one of those very difficult occurrences. You would know that there are a lot of problems as soon as you see all the italicized words in translation. There aren’t really any verbs in this “sentence.” Translators add them to help make sense of the passage. In addition, there are problems with the word shihetka (destruction) and the preposition be (“against” in the above version). Nevertheless, we still get the gist of the verse. God is about to unleash the great irony of Israel’s history – destruction will come from the helper.
Dearman suggests that we should notice the comparison of this verse with verse 4. In verse 4, YHWH is called the moshia of Israel, the savior of the people. Here He is their ‘ezer. In both cases, His actions are designed to rescue and deliver (yasha). Once God found Israel in the wilderness and He cared for them. Now He finds them in physical prosperity but spiritual emptiness. He will care for them again, but the first occasion meant nourishing and flourishing; this time His care means destroying.
Before we apply this pattern to our lives, let’s look as far back as we can to see if the pattern isn’t true from the beginning. God found Adam outside the Garden. He put him in the Garden in order that Adam might enjoy all things delightful to God. Adam lacked for nothing because God was his shepherd. God even added a physical representation of His personal support and assistance, the ‘ezer kenegdo, Adam’s benefactor. Like grapes discovered in the wilderness, God delighted in Adam and the ‘ezer and commissioned them to be His priests in the world. But Adam and his ‘ezer overstepped the protective borders God put in place. They converted God’s truth into personal morality and disaster befell them. How would God restore them to His fellowship and communion? The only way possible – by forcing them from the Garden of blessed delight into a world now riddled with ‘atsav, and world where death and destruction can become the tools of restoration. Hosea is not so far from the Garden. He stands at the entrance and beckons Israel to look where it came from. He exhorts us to do the same.
In my experience, the irony of YHWH’s creative work is that He is both helper and destroyer. When we align ourselves with Him, He supplies our every need and blesses us with fulfilled purpose. When we oppose Him, He does not cease in His effort to bring us back into alignment since communion with Him is both beneficial to us and of enormous importance to Him. But when we oppose Him, He opposes us, bringing destruction into our lives in order that we will not be entirely seduced by the appeal of self-edification. In other words, He is for us and against us at the same time. Which way He faces depends on us.
Topical Index: ‘ezer, helper, destruction, shihetka, Hosea 13:9, Genesis 2:18
Obviously, there is a parallel between God’s actions toward Israel and the designed purpose of the ‘ezer kenegdo, the woman. She also faces toward and away from her beneficiary, the man. Paying attention to the way that God deals with His relationship with Israel provides considerable material for reflection on the way God designed the relationship between a wife and a husband. If you haven’t studied this parallelism, you have missed something critical about God’s design. You can start with my book, Guardian Angel.