September 11

Hosea 12; 2 Corinthians 1

Thought from Today's Old Testament Passage:

I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction? (Hosea 13:14)

This text is either one of the greatest notes of triumph over death in the Old Testament, or, by beginning with a rhetorical question which assumes a no answer, it surrenders the helpless to all the weapons of death. Which is true…?

The answer, of course, is that the same situation is found in Genesis 3:15. It too is surrounded with the curses on the woman, the serpent, the man, and the ground (Gen. 3:8-14; 16-19). Often God will interject this note of hope right in the midst of humanity's darkest moments and most deserved judgments.

Therefore, the taunt song to death and the grave is the most appropriate rendering of the last part of verse 14. It is the same paean that the apostle Paul will raise in 1 Corinthians 15:55. It only asks in mocking tones what the first part of verse 14 had clearly affirmed as a statement: God can and will ransom them from the power of the grave. He can deliver them even after death has done its worst. No wonder the prophet cries out with such triumphant glee and says (after a manner of speaking): "Come on, death, let's see your stuff now! Come on, grave, put up your fists and fight!"

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Hard Sayings of the Old Testament (Downer's Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), pp. 220-222. 

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