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… (Hosea 11:1-11)
Have you ever experienced several days of unrelenting hot, humid weather? The summertime climate where I come from in Minnesota can be filled with dripping heat that seems never to end. But then finally a cooling rain moves in, bringing sweet relief. That’s what reading our text from Hosea feels like after having spent so long hearing of God’s disgust and despair over the sins of his people.
For here he says that his heart is changed and his compassion burns within him. He relents and promises not to carry out his fierce anger. We sense the great love that propels him, and the image shifts from husband/wife to father/son as he speaks of his love. He tells how he stooped down to feed them – probably referring to the manna and quails that the Israelites received for forty years as they wandered in the desert.
I especially like the images in verse 4 of “cords of human kindness” and “ties of love.” The Lord knows that we need his loving direction, as we saw with his walling in with thornbushes in chapter 2. And although cords and ties connote control and slavery, not so in the hand of a loving father. This image of gentle but firm discipline fits in well with the message of the writer to the Hebrews: ‘No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it’ (12:11).
Join me in celebrating the cooling rain of forgiveness and acceptance. Though the people of Israel and Judah would yet face the consequences of their sins, they would receive the love of a Father who would settle them into their homes.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are our advocate with the Father. You are the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and for the sins of the world. Thank you.