I Still Love You

Hosea 11:1-11

Have here a variation on prodigal son story from Luke 15:11ff. Is one of rare opportunities to really see into mind of God. Have already been given example of God’s persistent love using example of husband and wife – Hosea and Gomer. Hosea’s love of the kind that would not allow the one he loved to remain in self-destructive way of life. Nor did Hosea hold any of that over Gomer’s head – goal was restoration of healthy biblical relationship that modeled God’s relationship with his people.

Imagery changes here in chapter 11 from husband/wife to father/son. This some of most tender and touching language in all of Hosea, covering quite the range of emotions – fond reminiscing, sorrow, anger, compassion. Yet have clear reminder v.9: “I am God, and not man, The Holy One in your midst”. Believe what God says about relationship he has with his children, and remember he is God our Father.

God picks up thread from early in the Exodus narrative – “Israel is my son, my firstborn” (Ex. 4:22) then continues from God’s perspective of their relationship. Reminisces about his own actions, Israel’s response; in turn, God’s use of the rod of correction, then he relents… holding back from total destruction. In surprising move, God roars, and finally we consider his purpose of redemption in all this.

A. reminiscing v.1-4

God

loved (1a)

not because of any pre-condition met by Israel or any need on God’s part, rather because God chose to love his son for reasons known only to him

is an active (not sentimental) kind of love – is love that does what is best for the person, brings about good for and in them

called (1b)

yes, son was in Egypt when called; not where God intended him to stay, though – called out of slavery and idol-worship

consider from perspective of adoptive parents: love child, desire to do what is good for child, adopt and leave in orphanage… not!

adopting, giving all rights of sonship, includes bringing child into home for God as well as earthly parents – God loved while we were still sinners, did not expect us to stay in that place… has called us out of Egypt just like Israel

taught (3a)

did all necessary to start son off in right way – think toddler just beginning to walk, hold both their hands as you walk behind supporting and guiding along safe path… loving compassion in action

was what God did at first for Israel, does for us; then can move on – Isa. 30:21Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.”

God has defined path, taught and supported in early stumbling stages, continues to walk behind giving further instruction

healed (spiritual healing/deliverance) (3b)

God knows his people need more than vocational training, learning new or better skills; worked with one individual, identified biblical principle not being put to use – pencil, paper, “what do I do? how do I do that?”

must begin with spiritual healing – new life where none before; spiritual deliverance – freedom from bondage of sin; followed by regular restoration after lapses into sinfulness

drew (4a)

human fathers too often tend to drive, not draw – much more effective to lead someone in the desired way

used means and methods most suited to individual disposition and ability; good teacher recognizes and uses approach that accomodates learning styles: Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing Preference, and Kinesthetic… so does God

God’s methods of drawing us to him are outworking of his kindness and love – means he encourages, persuades, convinces his way is best

stooped and fed (4b)

reached down to level of individual and provided nourishment suitable to both need and ability/development – not solid food to choke baby, not milk to undernourish more mature

the son

drifted away (2a)

can hear pathos in sad account – “The more they were called, the more they went away”; can certainly put child’s name/face to that picture, head in opposite direction in spite of parent’s calls

what adds to sadness is God truly has child’s best in view, has both desire and power to make it happen; instead, child pursues what is seriously harmful

worshiped idols (2b)

hard to comprehend how God’s children, having received so much so freely from him, could give honor to useless idol

didn’t take long – a month after plagues ended and Red Sea crossing, voila, here’s a calf! goes to show incredible power of sin, the hold it has on fallen mankind

did not acknowledge God (3b)

gave credit to other than God for deliverance from slavery – either themselves or gods of their own making, even when they for certain knew better

B. the rod v.5-7

God’s consequences

harsh captivity – Egypt and Assyria (5a,b)

“shall he not return…” – since they won’t willingly return to God, he will return them to Egypt (aka captivity)

Assyria the primary aggressor, but… some would go to Egypt, from frying pan into fire and away from God’s protection

after Assyrian victory, large numbers of Israelites carried off and replaced with other POW’s (Samaritans) under major resettlement program

loss of life and livelihood (6a,b,c)

cities become indefensible, material resources plundered, many would die, the rest forced into harsh working conditions

their behavior

refused to repent (5c)

justified consequences for abandoning and rejecting what they knew to be true and right – God called, they ran the other way and would not voluntarily change direction

followed their own counsel (6d)

their own plans, rather than leading to better conditions would lead them into hardship and suffering – in essence God didn’t force them into captivity, they chose their own direction and that was result

bent on backsliding (7a)

minds were set on wrong idea and they would not be persuaded otherwise; pride at the root… “I know what is right/best more than God does”

hypocrites (7b)

at same time as turning away were calling on God – not much different from person in need, “I prayed to all the gods I could think of, I hope one will answer”

C. relenting v.8-9

love and compassion come to forefront (8)

change of heart, compassion aroused (not change of purpose) – mercy and judgment both active here, giving child hope that it might come to good end

pulls back from total destruction – Admah / Zeboiim destroyed along with Sodom and Gomorrah (9a)

are times when God has only judgment in view – has reached end of patience, can be merciful no longer, must act decisively

when it comes to God’s people, his purpose is their redemption – desires repentance and restoration to fellowship

don’t forget, he is still God and not man (9c)

does not act like a man, does not change expectations or purpose like man – at same time, reinforces idea that he takes no pleasure in death of wicked

D. the roar v.10-11

they will walk right (10a)

God makes it explicit what he expects, what he desires for them: right living, in light of truth/principles given in his word

they will come trembling (10c, 11a)

God’s desire is for humility – resists the proud, gives grace to humble: even when doing right thing, must approach him as God

they will dwell (11b)

God intends for his people to have a home, to be settled in place of his provision; he really does have their good in view

they hear the roar, not the “love” (10b)

sinful human nature being what it is, don’t always hear God’s voice when it is gentle; need the in-your-face roar to get attention

come to understand… eventually… that God is love, even when he roars!

E. God’s call => God’s purpose

has always had redemption in view – Eph. 1:4He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world”

called his son Israel out of Egypt (Ex. 4:22-23) to prepare way for greater firstborn Son

called Son out of Egypt to complete means of redemption – back to Israel, his ministry, the Cross

is in light of what Christ would accomplish that God could show mercy to backsliding rebellious people

Is expression of God’s love in all of this, especially at the Cross – 1 John 4:10In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

 

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