Summary: When we touch upon the love of GOD, we plunge ourselves into an ocean whose depths have never been fathomed. It is all-embracing, all-inviting, all-supporting, and all-supplying.
Opening illustration: For thousands of families in Kenya, seven cows are more valuable than a girl’s future. Those cows, a typical bridal dowry in Maasai culture, prove so tempting that most fathers in rural areas decide their daughter’s education will end and marriage begin by age 13. Traditionally this event is preceded by female genital circumcision, a mutilation that remains a mystery to the girls until the moment it is performed. For generations, this ceremony was a rite of passage for every Maasai girl, some as young as 10; soon afterward, they would marry and drop out of school.
But when Kakenya Ntaiya endured the painful ritual in 1993, she had a plan. She negotiated a deal with her father, threatening to run away unless he promised she could finish high school after the ceremony. "I really liked going to school," she said. "I knew that once I went through the circumcision, I was going to be married off. And my dream of becoming a teacher was going to end." Engaged at age 5, Ntaiya spent her childhood learning the skills she would need to be a good Maasai wife. But her mother encouraged her children to strive for a better life, and Ntaiya heeded her advice, postponing the coming-of-age ritual as long as she could. When her father finally insisted, she took her stand.
Ntaiya's bold move paid off. She excelled in high school and earned a college scholarship in the United States. Her community held a fundraiser to raise money for her airfare, and in exchange, she promised to return and help the village. Over the next decade, Ntaiya would earn her degree, a job at the United Nations and eventually a doctorate in education. But she never forgot the vow she made to village elders. In 2009, she opened the first primary school for girls in her village, the Kakenya Center for Excellence. Today, Ntaiya is helping more than 150 girls receive the education and opportunities that she had to sacrifice so much to attain. [National Geographic and CNN Heroes 2013]
If Kakenya Ntaiya could sacrifice so much to save and care for the Masai girls, how much more our loving God cares for His children. Let us turn to Hosea 11 and learn just that …
Introduction: The Old Testament book of Hosea is the story of God’s faithful love for His unfaithful people. In what seems strange to us, the Lord commanded Hosea to marry a woman who would break her marriage vows and bring grief to him (Hosea 1:2-3). After she deserted Hosea for other men, the Lord told him to take her back — a picture of “the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods” (3:1).
This passage contains the most poignant yet touching words in all of Hosea. It features a sharp contrast between God’s tender reminiscences of His early relationship with Israel and yet His sorrow at their rejection of Him for Baal despite all that He had done for them (vv. 1-4). When we touch upon the love of GOD, we plunge ourselves into an ocean whose depths have never been fathomed. It is all-embracing, all-inviting, all-supporting, and all-supplying. And it is this matchless love which underlies every divine warning, the spurning of which, as was true with Hosea's people, makes more terrible the fearful storms of judgment when they break.
How does God care for us?
1. Removes from BONDAGE (v. 1)
Hosea speaks the words of a broken-hearted God who experiences the feelings of a parent, "When Israel was a child I loved him." I remember reading this passage from Hosea in my younger years and finding it comforting. It is against this black background that these choice jewels of JEHOVAH's expressed affection shine. The people are reminded that the love of GOD made possible the deliverance of their fathers from Egyptian bondage.
- It was love that broke Pharaoh's grip.
- It was love that rolled back the waters of the Red Sea.
- It was love that fed them manna each day.
- It was love that kept their garments from becoming threadbare.
- It was love that cleared the passage through the Jordan River.
- It was love that prepared the land flowing with milk and honey and set the table for them in the wilderness.
God loved Israel NOT because they were better or more in numbers than the other nations but He exercised His free will by showing His favor to them even when they were not deserving. They were small in number and not impressive from any angle. Even when they were captives in Egypt He freed them through Moses who became their savior. The Israelites had lived as slaves in bondage in Egypt for a couple of hundred years and because God loved them so much that now He was calling them out. Through Matthew we also learn that it was a prophetic note for Christ being called out from Egypt after his parents fled there after His birth due to a threat to His life. As long as the Israelites lived in Egypt, they lived in bondage. God desires to take us out from captivity and bring us to total freedom in Christ. That is why He is calling us out as His children to take that step in faith out of captivity into freedom.