Reading Time: 6 Minutes
Other than the prophet Jeremiah, Hosea reveals the inner workings of God’s compassion toward his people more than any of the other Old Testament prophets.
The Darkness of Rebellion
Like fine jewelry displayed on a black piece of velvet, God’s love for his people is contrasted by darkness of their unfaithfulness.
— Pride and Refusal to Return
God’s call to his people is:
Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,
for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. (Hosea 14.1)
However, in their pride they believe that they knew better than God and choose their own best thinking over loyalty to him.
Israel’s pride testifies against him;
yet they do not return to the Lord their God,
or seek him, for all this. (Hosea 7.10)
— 911 Prayers without Obedience
They cry out to God for help, but refuse to follow his direction when it is given.
Israel cries to me,
“My God, we — Israel — know you!”
They made kings, but not through me;
they set up princes, but without my knowledge.
With their silver and gold they made idols
for their own destruction. (Hosea 8.2, 4)
Though I write for him the multitude of my instructions,
they are regarded as a strange thing. (Hosea 8.12)
Even though the people prayed and believed that they were in a relationship with God, their idols (substitutes for God) told the real story.
They were so bent on following their own self-will that they refused to follow God’s guidance.
— Prosperity and Idolatry Abounded
Under King Jeroboam II, the Northern Kingdom prospered and made great advances. At the same time, people gave their energy to substitutes for God.
Altars and pillars of devotion to the god of the land, Baal, abounded.
Israel is a luxuriant vine
that yields its fruit.
The more his fruit increased
the more altars he built;
as his country improved,
he improved his pillars. (Hosea 10.1)
These are three examples of the situation in mid-700 B.C. Israel. Readers of the Book of Hosea can find numerous examples of their apostasy.
What exactly is apostasy? When a person or a nation walks right up to the truth, stares the truth in the face, and walks away from it to do their own will, we have a picture of “apostasy.”
That is the most fundamental sin of the Northern Kingdom. The question for readers in 2021 is whether we are guilty, too.
The “Jewel” of God’s Love
Against the darkness of sin, God’s love shines throughout each generation like a brilliant and beautiful jewel.
— The True Nature of God
Baal was an “owner,” who required sacrifice and perverted rituals.
God is love and loves people, even people who are rebellious and selfish.
When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more I called them,
the more they went from me;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals,
and offering incense to idols. (Hosea 11.1-2)
The Exodus from Egypt was the most important piece of evidence of God’s love in Hosea’s day.
The cross of Jesus Christ that frees us from the bondage of sin is the greatest display of God’s love since the time of Christ.
Question: In what way are we like the people of the Northern Kingdom? Do we accept God’s love in Christ, but serve our addictions, substitutes for God, and self-centered desires?
— God’s Loving Guidance
Ephraim is God’s loving name to describe the Northern Kingdom (Israel). With very tender words, God described his care for his people.
Notice in the next verses the deep hurt of a parent whose love has been used but not returned.
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.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
with bands of love.
I was to them like those
who lift infants to their cheeks.
I bent down to them and fed them. (Hosea 11.3-4)
Let’s prayerfully meditate on what we are reading. How has God cared for us?
How many times has he healed us? How has God shown his love for us? How has he blessed our lives?
Have we returned his love or have we simply used him to get what we want?
— Tender Compassion
God’s amazing character is on display in his reaction to the Northern Kingdom (Ephraim).
He refused to make this nation like Admah and Zeboiim, two cities that were destroyed along with Sodom and Gomorrah.
God’s warm and tender compassion overcame his anger.
How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
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. (Hosea 11.8-9)
One of the most significant declarations in the Bible is when God says, “I am God and no mortal.”
The cross of Jesus Christ is the greatest demonstration of how God is unlike humans. A world of people who have turned their back on God is so loved by God that he provided us a way of salvation.
Praise God for his character. Praise him that he is in our midst as a loving, holy and gracious God.
The central message of Hosea is that God is love and he loves people. As a loving heavenly Father, he reaches out to humans with a deep desire to enter into a love relationship with him.
The relationship of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) to God overlooked friendship and love. They wanted a god that they could use and turned to Baal.
The message of Hosea calls people of all ages to enter into a love relationship with God. Let’s pursue him as our best friend and the One who loves us.
About This Blog
Tomorrow’s article will feature Paul’s response to letters from the church in Corinth. He will highlight the wisdom of the cross which is self-giving love in solving problems.
If you have a prayer request, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.