It’s a very original, unusual, unique statement. We would have expected something completely and totally different – even from the prophet himself. He has been expressing in the clearest, starkest, strongest, loudest terms possible his sense of the divine horror of sin. He has been sharing from the lips of God the most withering, the most scathing denunciations of the evil around man. With this as a backdrop we would expect that there would follow something like this – “I will utterly and completely destroy these wicked men. I will wipe them from the face of the earth and from the memory of all of creation.” But instead there comes this startling statement – “I will not execute the fierceness of My anger. . .For I am God, and not man. . .”
The reason why I say that this statement is so startling is because a sudden calm is as startling as a sudden storm. The wind has been rising – climbing step by step up the ladder of the Almighty’s indignation, when all of a sudden it dramatically drops. It doesn’t calm down. It doesn’t gradually subside. It doesn’t moderate over time. It drops immediately. It goes down in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.
My brother-in-law has spent time in India and he says that it goes from night to day without a dawn. That’s the kind of movement we find in this verse. In a second God’s frown turns into a smile. But perhaps the strangest thing that I find is in this verse is the reason that is given for His leniency – “For I am God, and not man. . .” Startling.
One would think that this would be a reason that would be given for a more drastic sentence. The normal, natural way of thinking about it would be that if the calloused conscience of your brother condemns you to death, then how much more so would an all-holy God. But Hosea says, “That’s not the way it is with God.” To Him the strongest is the gentlest, the purest is the most compassionate. That’s exactly the way the Lord is, because He is the One who most condemns sin, most feels its wickedness and most sees it’s evil effects.
You see, man overestimates your power of resistance. He has a far less sense of sin’s horror, but the eye of the Almighty sees how sin has shattered even your power of will – and so He extends pity. Who else would we run to then? Man had no place for the leper – he sent him to live in a graveyard. At first it would be tempting to run to another human, after all, “He is a man, he is human.” He knows how this frailty feels. He’ll remember that we’re both dust, but this is where I find my mistake. My hope is not found in the lowest, but the highest. My pardon comes from the One that I thought would be the most impossible – the Sinless. I had put my hope in the compassion of a heart that is itself impure. I hoped for great things from Simon Peter for after all, he have passed through the sea and he had experienced the wave. But when he came to Antioch he stayed away from me; he pretended that he didn’t know me. The waves of the Sea of Galilee had washed him so clean that he could no longer be a comfortable companion. But that’s when Jesus came to me! He came when my friends forsook me. He came when my comrades crept away. He came when no one would even give me pig slop, when my brother denied me music and dancing. He came with the robe and the ring, through the fire and the flood, the the storm and the stress, the mist and the mire, desert and death. He came to my cloud on the mount of transfiguration. Everybody else ran when they saw my cloud – Elijah, Moses, Peter, James and John, and I was left only seeing Jesus. That’s why from this point forward, on this mountain, I will not build a tabernacle to anybody but HIM!