1: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” – Shifting from the predictions of doom, God, through Hosea, begins to explain His intense love for His people and what He has done for them even as they turned away.
2: “The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols.” – Israel, the errant child, loved and yet insistent in following the wrong path.
3: “Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them.” – God had always nurtured His people and yet they did not know Him.
7: “My people are bent on turning away from me. To the Most High they call, but he does not raise them up at all.” – The prophets were calling Israel to return to God, but the people did not respond and would not exalt His holiness – instead, they followed their own path.
8b: “My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.” – God debates with himself. First He outlines all the reasons His unfaithful child should be punished and then He speaks of His love for them.
9: “I will not execute my fierce anger: I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and no mortal, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.” – Punishment is a just action for Israel’s sinful ways and yet, God’s heart softens and total destruction is abated.
Points to Contemplate:
Reflect on the goodness of God in your life.
As a child of God, when have you felt His nurturing love in your life? At what times did you feel Him lift you into His arms and heal you of your pain or distress? What can you remember that provides evidence of Him leading you through the “desert” moments of your life? What sustenance has He provided? And what are the blessings He has cascaded down upon you?
Do you still turn away? After reflecting on God’s nurturing love for you, do those times that you turned from God come to mind? What has been your response to His love? Do you still worship other idols and gods? Do you insist on following your own path? Have you stubbornly held on to your sinful ways and have not allowed God’s holiness into your life? Is your heart still filled with worry and anxiety? Do you fret about the future and look for peace and understanding from anything that comes your way? Are you “bent on turning away (from God)?”
What should God do with you? Are you deserving of His punishment? Should He give up? Should He be angry? Frustrated? Will you ever learn? Much of what you have done saddens God and yet, He loves you. Even though you seemingly are bent towards turning from Him, He loves you. Even though your pathway to holiness seems rocky and errant, His heart softens for you. Do these thoughts reinforce the magnitude of God’s grace and love for you? Promises of the Gospel:
Israel has been a very difficult child to raise. He wandered and drifted. At every opportunity, he turned from God and began seeking fulfillment and purpose from any other source that came his way. All the evidence that gave proof of God’s nurturing love was forgotten or overlooked. God’s frustration after centuries of reaching into their lives was understandable. How much more could He do? As with any wayward child, punishment became an option to consider. The severity of the punishment was befitting of the crime and yet, God wavered. His love softened His heart and destruction was abated. God will never give up on us no matter how far we drift or how frequently we return to the ways of sin. His love has been permanently etched on our hearts and has become a beacon that is always available to show us the way home.