Many view the God of the Old Testament as a different God that we see both in the New Testament and in our current culture. They have somehow separated the justice and wrath shown in the OT from the grace and mercy shown in the NT. It's important for us to understand that the justice and wrath shown in the OT still awaits those that reject God even today. It's also important to see that the mercy and grace that is poured out on us is the same mercy and grace that God showed before He showed His wrath.
This group of chapters along with the few preceeding show us both sides of it. Instead of being described as a heartless bringer of punishment, we see the pain that God feels as he punishes His children. Any good father that loves his children knows that pain. The fact that we don't want to hurt our children or be the cause of their tears, but knowing that through our firm correction, we can save them from even deeper and more severe pain down the road. That is the heart of God. In both the Old and New Testaments, He is the Father that loves His children and continuosly shows grace and mercy to them, but also punishes wrongdoing. If you are in a season of discipline from the Lord, rejoice! Just as the writer of Hebrews tells us in chapter 12, He only disciplines those that He loves. Learn from the discipline and follow the Lord.
GOD’S CASE AGAINST JACOB’S HEIRS
12 Ephraim chases the wind
and pursues the east wind.
He continually multiplies lies and violence.
He makes a covenant with Assyria,
and olive oil is carried to Egypt.
2 The Lord also has a dispute with Judah.
He is about to punish Jacob according to his conduct;
he will repay him based on his actions.
3 In the womb he grasped his brother’s heel,
and as an adult he wrestled with God.
4 Jacob struggled with the angel and prevailed;
he wept and sought his favor.
He found him at Bethel,
and there he spoke with him.,f
5 The Lord is the God of Armies;
the Lord is his name.
6 But you must return to your God.
Maintain love and justice,
and always put your hope in God.
7 A merchant loves to extort
with dishonest scales in his hands.
8 But Ephraim thinks,
“How rich I have become;
I made it all myself.
In all my earnings,
no one can find any iniquity in me
that I can be punished for!”
JUDGMENT ON APOSTATE ISRAEL
9 I have been the Lord your God
ever since the land of Egypt.
I will make you live in tents again,
as in the festival days.
10 I will speak through the prophets
and grant many visions;
I will give parables through the prophets.
11 Since Gilead is full of evil,
they will certainly come to nothing.
They sacrifice bulls in Gilgal;
even their altars will be like piles of rocks
on the furrows of a field.
FURTHER INDICTMENT OF JACOB’S HEIRS
12 Jacob fled to the territory of Aram.
Israel worked to earn a wife;
he tended flocks for a wife.
13 The Lord brought Israel from Egypt by a prophet,
and Israel was tended by a prophet.
14 Ephraim has provoked bitter anger,
so his Lord will leave his bloodguilt on him
and repay him for his contempt.
1 When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling;
he was exalted in Israel.
But he incurred guilt through Baal and died.
2 Now they continue to sin
and make themselves a cast image,
idols skillfully made from their silver,
all of them the work of craftsmen.
People say about them,
“Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves.”
3 Therefore, they will be like the morning mist,
like the early dew that vanishes,
like chaff blown from a threshing floor,
or like smoke from a window.
DEATH AND RESURRECTION
4 I have been the Lord your God
ever since the land of Egypt;
you know no God but me,
and no Savior exists besides me.
5 I knew you in the wilderness,
in the land of drought.
6 When they had pasture,
they became satisfied;
they were satisfied,
and their hearts became proud.
Therefore they forgot me.
7 So I will be like a lion to them;
I will lurk like a leopard on the path.
8 I will attack them
like a bear robbed of her cubs
and tear open the rib cage over their hearts.
I will devour them there like a lioness,
like a wild beast that would rip them open.
9 I will destroy you, Israel;
you have no help but me.,aw
10 Where now is your king,,ax
that he may save you in all your cities,
and the rulers,ay you demanded, saying,
“Give me a king and leaders”?
11 I give you a king in my anger
and take away a king in my wrath.
12 Ephraim’s guilt is preserved;
his sin is stored up.
13 Labor pains come on him.
He is not a wise son;
when the time comes,
he will not be born.,e
14 I will ransom them from the power of Sheol.
I will redeem them from death.
Death, where are your barbs?
Sheol, where is your sting?
Compassion is hidden from my eyes.
THE COMING JUDGMENT
15 Although he flourishes among his brothers,,i
an east wind will come,
a wind from the Lord rising up from the desert.
His water source will fail,
and his spring will run dry.
The wind will plunder the treasury
of every precious item.
16 Samaria will bear her guilt
because she has rebelled against her God.
They will fall by the sword;
their children will be dashed to pieces,
and their pregnant women ripped open.
A PLEA TO REPENT
1 Israel, return to the Lord your God,
for you have stumbled in your iniquity.
2 Take words of repentance with you
and return to the Lord.
Say to him: “Forgive all our iniquity
and accept what is good,
so that we may repay you
with praise from our lips.
3 Assyria will not save us,
we will not ride on horses,
and we will no longer proclaim, ‘Our gods!’
to the work of our hands.
For the fatherless receives compassion in you.”
A PROMISE OF RESTORATION
4 I will heal their apostasy;
I will freely love them,
for my anger will have turned from him.
5 I will be like the dew to Israel;
he will blossom like the lily
and take root like the cedars of Lebanon.
6 His new branches will spread,
and his splendor will be like the olive tree,
his fragrance, like the forest of Lebanon.
7 The people will return and live beneath his shade.
They will grow grain
and blossom like the vine.
His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon.
8 Ephraim, why should I have anything more
to do with idols?
It is I who answer and watch over him.
I am like a flourishing pine tree;
your fruit comes from me.
9 Let whoever is wise understand these things,
and whoever is insightful recognize them.
For the ways of the Lord are right,
and the righteous walk in them,
but the rebellious stumble in them.
Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), Ho 12:1–14:9.