Israel was doomed – not because God wanted to destroy her, but because she refused to let Him save her. The monarchy – in which such high hopes had been invested – could not take the place of God.
God sometimes gives us what we think we want, not as a blessing but as a punishment. And what He gives He can take away again (verse 11). From Jeroboam I onwards, Israel’s kings had done more harm than good – and each dynasty had been terminated abruptly by assassination or civil war. Meanwhile their sins, unrepented and therefore unforgiven, were accumulating for judgement (Romans 2:5). God’s chastening, though painful, was intended to bring them to repentance – when relief and joy would surely follow. But if they refused to repent, the outcome would be like that of an obstructed labour: inevitable death (verse 13).
Because God loves us, His ‘final solution’ to the problem of sin is not death, but redemption.
“I will deliver this people from the power of the grave;
I will redeem them from death.
Where, O death, are your plagues?
Where, O grave, is your destruction?” (verse 14)
The power of death will be broken by the death of God’s own Son as a ransom. (I Corinthians 15:56,57) Ultimately it is Death and Hades that will be destroyed for ever; God will show them no mercy (Revelation 20:14).
But we cannot experience salvation without repentance. God’s held out to Israel this tremendous gift – but she rejected it. Her future was therefore blighted: all her prosperity would wither away under the blast of Assyrian imperialism, her people would be massacred, and the weakest and most vulnerable would become the victims of sickening atrocities. This is the end result of rebellion against God.