Summary: God’s unfailing love for his people directs how he deals with them. even when angry he still loves them
GOD LOVES YOU!
This morning, you will be glad to hear, I am not going to attempt to preach through both chapters 11 and 12 of Hosea. Instead I want to concentrate on chapter 11 verses 1-11. Over the past two weeks we have heard how Ephraim has chased after other gods and the warning of the coming judgment of God on them for their idolatry and immorality. Chapter 11 verses 1-11 are the balance to those two chapters and to chapter 12. Chapter 12 once again paints the picture of a sinful, wayward and wandering people. If you removed chapter 11 you would have a continuous accusation of immorality and idolatry against the people of God. So turn with me now to Hosea 11 and let us hear this morning the amazing story of God’s grace towards this sinful, wayward and immoral people.
Verses 1-7 A wayward Son?
“Is everything normal?” is one of the first questions many parents ask at the moment of a child’s birth. From that moment on however they never want their child to be normal again. They want them to talk and walk before all their contemporaries do. There is such excitement when a child begins to walk. All the concentration, the taking of them by the hand and leading them on those first few faltering steps. The letting go as they take those steps and tumble forward. It is a picture of love, of care, of pride and of hope. Just such a picture is painted of the people of God here in Hosea 11.
Look at verse 1. God refers to Israel as His child. The literal translation is as His adopted son. God called them out of Egypt, out of the land of bondage and slavery. In Exodus 4.22 Israel is described as ‘God’s first born son’ to Pharaoh. Whilst they were in Egypt God loved them and provided a deliverer, a saviour, for them – Moses. God led them out of slavery and fed them on the journey to the Promised Land. He was a loving and attentive father towards His children. How did Israel respond to such love and blessing from God? Look at verse 2. The more God called them the further they turned away from Him. Their stubborn hearts and self-pride led them to worship Baal. The more God, out of love for them, called them to come home the more stubborn they became and persisted on their path of idolatry and immorality. Some of you know how painful an experience that can be with children who do not listen to advice and wander far from the path of God. You know the amazing thing is that when they were in slavery in Egypt they called out to the living God and did not worship the gods of the Egyptians. They remained faithful to God in Egypt but when they entered the land of Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey they became an adulterous people. Why? How come? Because they thought they had arrived and that there was nothing left for them to do. The same is true of many Christians who think that all that matters is that you make a commitment to Christ Jesus, that you are born-again. That is only the beginning, an important beginning, but only the beginning. You see if you are truly an adopted child of God you take on the family likeness and obey your Father. You live according to His ways.
In verses 3 and 4 we see the tenderness and relentless compassion of God toward His people Israel. Look at the picture painted here of a loving father who has helped his children grow and often without their knowledge. The father was there to help when the child took those first faltering steps. He was there to pick him up when he fell down. He was there to heal the hurts and mend what was broken. He did all this out of selfless love for the wellbeing of the child. The people had forgotten or taken for granted all that God had done for them. They failed to appreciate his tender mercy in lifting the yoke of slavery from off their necks and of his condescension in bending down to feed them. Let me read some verses to you from Psalm 121.3-8 and Isaiah 40.11. That is the tender compassion and love that God has towards these people and towards you this morning. In Isaiah 42.3 he says that a bruised reed he will not break and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out – that is the gentleness he shows towards you. Here he tells the people he lifts the yoke of slavery from off their necks and not only sets them free but he also provides sustenance and nourishment for them. When we come to the NT we see this love displayed in Christ Jesus and his death on the Cross. By Christ’s death and resurrection God lifted the yoke of sin from our lives. By sending the Holy Spirit he gave us the spiritual sustenance and nourishment we need to daily live for him.