When God, out of love, had chosen Israel, His people, like Gomer, were young, beautiful, and God cherished them like a tender parent.
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.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,Hosea 11:1-4
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.
But the more God called to His people, the harder they pushed Him away, so, like Gomer, He let them go to the ruin they were determined to experience. God’s judgment came through the natural consequences of their sin—corruption, decay, and death.
Then, there is an amazing turning point about two-thirds of the way through Hosea’s book:
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.
They shall go after the Lord,Hosea 11:8-11
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.
Aren’t those beautiful words? Aren’t the like a healing salve on a hurting soul? It helps, doesn’t it? No matter how far down the pit you and I go, God is still saying, “I love you freely, My heart is clenched within Me over you, My compassion grows warm, and My arm is still long enough to reach way down into the darkness you’ve found yourself in. I want more than anything to lift you up, and draw you close to Me.”
The compassion of God found its fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ, for Hosea’s story is as timely now as it ever was. In a way, Hosea is a shadow of Jesus, Who will look high and low for us, and never stop searching until He finds us. And He is willing to pay whatever it costs, do whatever it takes, to restore us, and join His life with ours.
Still restoration will not happen without true repentance. God’s unfailing love to His people included the severe chastisement of Assyria. But during their exile, Israel did turn to the Lord in true repentance.
As you and I turn to the last page of Hosea together, we can see the prayer in chapter 14 is so different than the one in chapter 6. Now Israel was like Gomer at the slave auction, stripped bare so that sin and degradation could no longer be hidden, bereft of every lover, alone.
It’s easy enough to confess somebody else’s sins, isn’t it? Well, they did thus and so, that was really awful, and oh Lord, I am so longing for Your healing from that.
And it’s easy enough to just make a blanket confession—Oh Lord, I haven’t been all I could be this week…
But to repent of our own, specific, sin, name it by name, is so difficult it’s actually impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit.
And Israel was ready, just as Gomer had been. “We will never again say ‘Our gods’ to what our own hands have made,” and they never did, once they returned from exile.
Fearfulness, pride, boastfulness, jealousy, envy, prayerlessness, discontent, outbursts of anger, gossip, slander, resentment, unforgiveness, smugness, anxiety and agitation, a critical spirit, forsaking our first love for the Lord Jesus Christ, rationalizing sin, yielding to temptation, grumbling, a complaining attitude, distrust of God’s working in our lives, lying, lust, lack of interest to glorify Jesus Christ, not desiring the best for another, withholding love from those who thwart us, or oppose us…
I had to stop. I tried to think of all the inner sins, all the ways we fall short of God’s beautiful shalom, God’s loveliness…and I had to give it up. It’s just too much.
The apostle John summed up the solution in one of his letters. He said, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” It’s so good, I went ahead and memorized it. I need this one several times a day, sometimes.
God cleanses all of it. What others do to you and me, and what we do to others. What we do to ourselves. That’s the measure of God’s love.
True love is of God, Whose love is infinite. Love is sovereign, love defies reasoning, it is apart from reason. Love is not according to logic, love is according to love. Love goes all the way, and then love goes one step further.
Image courtesy PxHere.com