As you read this passage from Hosea, ask God to speak to you and challenge you through his Word.
Read Hosea 11:1-11
 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.  But the more they were called, the more they went away 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. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.  “Will they not return to Egypt and will not Assyria rule over them because they refuse to repent?  A sword will flash in their cities; it will devour their false prophets and put an end to their plans.  My people are determined to turn from me. Even though they call me God Most High, I 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 Zeboyim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.  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.  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 from Egypt, trembling like sparrows, from Assyria, fluttering like doves. I will settle them in their homes,” declares the LORD. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectHow do you see God's love and compassion here?
This week we have been looking at the cost of following Jesus and at the searching God’s initiative to restore those who are far away to relationship with him. Hosea the prophet had been commanded by God to love and marry a faithless woman, Gomer. She left him for other men on numerous occasions but he remained faithful to her. He took her back when she returned, only to be spurned again. This was a prophetic demonstration of God’s love for his people despite their faithlessness and wandering away from relationship with him. In this passage Israel is compared with a prodigal son rather than a faithless wife, but God remains the constant loving presence. “How can I give you up?,” he asks. The Lord of mercy and compassion is seeking those who have strayed. The one who promises to “settle them again in their homes” welcomes with open arms those who will come to him. Once again, we see how God takes the initiative, goes the “second mile,” and finally gives his beloved Son, so that our relationship with him might be restored.
Imagine that you are in heaven. Hear God say to you, “I led [you] with cords of human kindness, with ties of love.”
Lord, it’s hard to imagine how much You love me and how much You’ve done for me. I praise You!
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