Read Hosea 11
God’s Love for Israel
11 “When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
2 But the more they were called,
the more they went away from me.
They sacrificed to the Baals
and they burned incense to images.
3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
it was I who healed them.
4 I led them with cords of human kindness,
with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts
a little child to the cheek,
and I bent down to feed them.
5 “Will they not return to Egypt
and will not Assyria rule over them
because they refuse to repent?
6 A sword will flash in their cities;
it will devour their false prophets
and put an end to their plans.
7 My people are determined to turn from me.
Even though they call me God Most High,
I will by no means exalt them.
8 “How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah?
How can I make you like Zeboyim?
My heart is changed within me;
all my compassion is aroused.
9 I will not carry out my fierce anger,
nor will I devastate Ephraim again.
For I am God, and not a man—
the Holy One among you.
I will not come against their cities.
10 They will follow the Lord;
he will roar like a lion.
When he roars,
his children will come trembling from the west.
11 They will come from Egypt,
trembling like sparrows,
from Assyria, fluttering like doves.
I will settle them in their homes,”
declares the Lord.
12 Ephraim has surrounded me with lies,
Israel with deceit.
And Judah is unruly against God,
even against the faithful Holy One.
NOTE: As with much poetry, Hosea uses imagery and references filled with unspoken meaning. While Hosea’s original audience, the people of Israel, would have been familiar with these references, those of us in the twenty-first century may not share the same context, so links are provided in the Dig Deeper section for more information.
In Hosea 11, think of Israel as a rebellious teenager with the nickname “Ephraim.” God has given him life, taught him to walk, fed him, protected him, and provided for him, but Israel continues to run away, ignore warnings, demand privileges, and fall in with the wrong crowd. This is where we meet up with God in chapter 11. He is done! In verse 7, God declares “My people have made up their minds to turn away from me. Even if they call me the Most High God, I will certainly not honor them.”
But then, in verse 8, we can hear the tenderness in God’s cry, “People of Ephraim, how can I give you up?” Though hurt at His people’s rebellion, God refuses to leave them to destruction as the cities of Admah and Zeboyim, both destroyed with Sodom and Gomorrah. We see God’s compassion heal His hurt and His perseverance power the plan for Israel’s return to Him. Despite the rebellion, God’s love surpasses His anger and fuels his forgiveness of Israel.
Not only will God not destroy the nation of Israel, He will bring them, and us, back to Him through Jesus Christ. In verse 10, God predicts, “I will roar like a lion against my enemies. Then the Lord’s people will follow him. When he roars, his children will come home trembling with fear.” Jesus is referred to as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and this verse foretells of His coming like a lion, guarding the souls of His people, and of their remorseful return to Him. But this isn’t just about the people of Israel, this is about us, too.
We are the rebellious teenager. We run away from Him when we see things we desire. We ignore His warnings of dangers in this world. We demand privileges born out of our own entitlement. We follow people and things for instant gratification. We are like Israel, but God was not done with them and He is not done with us. Jesus came to give us abundant life (John 10:10), to protect us from the enemy and our poor choices (2 Thessalonians 3:3), and to restore our relationship with Him through the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:12).
- In what ways have you rebelled against this week?
- How does God’s provision of Jesus affect your rebellion?
- How can we reflect God’s love and compassion in our difficult relationships?
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