Hosea 11 // God’s Love for Israel
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me.
They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images.
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love;
I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.
Will they not return to Egypt and will not Assyria rule over them because they refuse to repent?
Swords will flash in their cities, will destroy the bars of their gates and put an end to their plans.
My people are determined to turn from me.
Even if they call to the Most High, he will by no means exalt them.
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 Zeboiim? [both are cities God destroyed along with Sodom and Gomorrah in Gen. 19:25)
My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.
I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim.
For I am God, and not man – the Holy One among you.
I will not come in wrath.
They will follow the Lord; he will roar like a lion.
When he roars, his children will come trembling from the west. They will come trembling like birds from Egypt, like doves from Assyria.
I will settle them in their homes,"
declares the Lord.
I often find myself resorting back to the idea (like Donald Miller expresses in Searching for God Knows What) that the God of the Old Testament was really angry and mean and then He sent His Son and He got a lot nicer. Passages like this, though, shatter that ignorant notion. There are so many passages in Hosea that go from describing the horrible details of Israel’s sin and arrogant abandonment of God and then the next verse is about how much He loves them and wishes they would just confess their need of Him and come back to Him.
That kind of forgiveness and love is so beyond me.