We have come to the part of Hosea where the Lord’s voice comes through, as opposed to the story of Hosea and is taking of a cheating wife to live out the example of Israel being unfaithful to God. As always, if these portions of scripture peak your interest, I encourage you to read the surrounding passages and see the larger context.
“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)
Verse 1, in this context, does not refer to the son of God being called out of Egypt, but the Hebrews being rescued from Egypt and the Pharaoh. The Lord, through the writer of Hosea, is bemoaning the fact that the Lord undertook to bring them out of Egypt and into the land that was promised to them. But even in the first part of the journey, the Hebrews showed that they could not quite get the hang living according to God’s statutes. But the Lord never gave up on them.
“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.” (Verses 3 – 4)
This makes me think of all the times we go through rough periods and patches in our lives. We sometimes may think it is our own strength, might, and endurance that gets us through. But in reality it could very well be likely that it is the Lord undertaking for us and helping us without our even knowing. Those who keep themselves aware and open to the Divine realize these things – or at least realize it some of the time. There are many, beloved reader, who have no idea that the Lord is looking out for them.
“They shall return to the land of Egypt, and Assyria shall be their king, because they have refused to return to me. The sword rages in their cities, it consumes their oracle-priests, and devours because of their schemes.
My people are bent on turning away from me.” (Verses 5 – 7a)
The Israelites ignored God at their own peril. Or at least that is the way the writer of Hosea interprets it. I am not fully committed to jump on that “band wagon.” The image of the Lord leaving the called people to their own peril does not sit well with me; it argues against a caring and compassionate Lord. Yet . . . yet, we live in a fallen and broken world. The Divine hand NOT coming between us and the perils in this world is very likely. NOT because the Lord does not care, but because human will is being given free reign, and not every human follows the Lord.
“To the Most High they call, but he does not raise them up at all.
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.” (Verses 7b – 9)
Last time I wrote I was very “fiery” in my rhetoric, exhorting and pleading that we might ask for restoration from the Lord. Today I do not have that fire “in my belly”; maybe tomorrow or later in the week. Today I am an observer and a ponderer.
“They shall go after the Lord, who roars like a lion; when he roars, his children shall come trembling from the west.
They shall come trembling like birds from Egypt, and like doves from the land of Assyria; and I will return them to their homes, says the Lord.” (Verses 10 -11)
What I see today, beloved reader, is the writer of Hosea trying to reach his readers and convince them to return to the Lord, and receive the blessing and rescue that is there. The Lord undertakes for the called people in unique and sometimes puzzling ways. But one that is sure and certain is that the ways of the world, the peril that might be in our every day, should make us seek out the Lord and draw on that strength. May you do so, beloved reader. Selah!