Hosea is a book full of rebellion, redemption, destruction, and healing. Throughout the entire fourteen chapters we see parallels from Hosea’s marriage to the adulterer Gomer to the relationship between God and His chosen people. At the very beginning, we see God do something very strange. Instead of simply commanding Hosea to deliver a message to the people of Israel-more specifically the northern kingdom of Ephraim-he asks him to marry a harlot. Though I’m sure the command to marry an openly immoral person must have confused Hosea, he complied. In the years that followed, God used Hosea’s relationship with his wife Gomer to illustrate His redeeming love of Israel.
As I was reading through the book of Hosea, I was struck by the sheer persistence of God’s grace, even in light of all the open immorality and rebellion of Ephraim. Here are a people that time and time again, from the very beginning of their inception have constantly rebelled against God, constantly repenting, then descending into terrible immorality once again. Yet here is a God that, through all of their idolatry, sexual immorality, and complete disregard for His commands, still chose to save them from their mess and love them with the love of a Father.
“What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away.” – Hosea 6:4
We are Israel. When we first come to Christ we are so passionate and zealous, yet after a little while, we find other things to entertain us. We get comfortable in our cities and suburbs, and we forget all that God did to bring us and our people to here. We forget the loving God that lead us out of Egypt, splitting seas and destroying nations to bring His chosen people to a good land. Instead of finding our joy in Him, we turn to lesser things, forgetting how great and loving our Father is.
“Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up by their arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them.
I will not execute my burning anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not a man,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.” – Hosea 11:3-4,9
And yet, He doesn’t abandon us. These verses from chapter 11 left me dumbfounded at the ridiculous love of God. Here is a nation that spits in His face generation after generation, and still He cares for them like a father with a mischevious child. I’d say we’re a bit more than mischevious, though. I think this passage really allows us a glimpse into God’s spirit. He speaks as if reminiscing on all the things He has been through with this people, loving them and providing for them even when they were so wayward they couldn’t tell which way was straight. Without any recognition or thanks, He still feeds them, He still protects them, He still forgives them.
I love the line in verse 9 that says,” for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst.” Any man would have given up and disowned them by now. But God is not a man. He is the Holy One, Creator of Heaven and Earth, Craftsman of Hearts, and Redeemer to His fallen children. He is something greater than us. Thank Him for that, because if it wasn’t for that we would have been decimated with the first sin.
Through all of our rebellion, He still loves us. Like a Father, He cares for us. I’ll end with a beautiful verse from this moving book:
“Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us, but He will heal us;
He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.” – Hosea 6:1