Hosea presents Israel with two contrary realities. On the one side is God’s rejection of them as an apostate people as well as their certain doom, and on the other side is his covenant faithfulness. But Hosea does not try to reconcile these two because to reconcile them would be to subordinate one to the other. Either that or both concepts would be rendered tame and would lose their power. In Hosea absolute rejection and destruction are set alongside complete restoration and forgiveness with no transition or explanation. These are, like the particle function and the wave function that is light, simply two autonomous realities. Each side of Hosea’s paradox appropriately describes God’s response to Israel.
We may feel that we can reconcile the two by saying that God loves his children but must take them through a period of discipline for their own good. But this is not how Hosea presents the matter. God’s intent is not to “discipline” these children and so teach them a lesson; his intention is to kill them—and then, incomprehensibly, to restore them. Our term “discipline” connotes something of a spanking, but we should recall that what Israel really faced was prolonged siege, massive starvation, slaughter of the people, rape of the women as a means of further annihilating their culture, and taking away the few surviving captives naked and in chains for a march across the desert in which many more would perish. This was racial and cultural genocide; it was holocaust. It was nothing less than the death of the nation. So horrible and complete is this kind of conquest that Ezekiel could only conceive of its reversal as a resurrection, and not as a simple restoration, in his vision of the valley of dry bones (Ezek 37:1–14). And yet at the same time God says, “I will completely forgive them.”
Daune Garrett, The New American Commentary, Hosea & Joel.