+27 (11) 867 3505 church@bbcmail.co.za

Our time in Hosea has helped us to see God’s anger at the religious whoredom of his people. He has expressed time and again his commitment to punish his people for their idolatry. Chapter 11 peels back the curtain a little to reveal God’s heart in punishing his people. Though the people were “bent on turning away” from him (v. 7) his “compassion” was “stirred” toward them (v. 8, CSB). It was necessary to punish his people for his glory and their good, but he took no delight in doing so.

Hosea 11 teaches us about the kind of love that God feels for and shows to his people. Though he sometimes finds it necessary to punish, his heart is for his people. This chapter reveals at least four characteristics of God’s love for his people—of his compassion stirred toward them, even in chastening. Much more can be sad about his love, but these four things are helpful to observe.

It may be helpful to note that God’s love in this chapter is pre-emptive. That is, there was nothing about the people that drew him to them. He chose to set his love on them. His free compassion moved him to lavish his love on them in these four ways. His free compassion for us moves him to lavish similar love on us.

First, God’s compassion stirred him to calling love. “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. Israel called to the Egyptians even as Israel was leaving them. They kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols” (vv. 1–2). He chose to love this people and invited them into relationship with them. There was nothing inherently attractive about this people but he chose them, of his own will, to fulfil his purposes.

In his love, God called us to himself. There was nothing in us that caused him to call us but he freely chose to set his love on us and call us to himself.

Second, God’s compassion stirred him to teaching love. “It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the hand, but they never knew that I healed them. I led them with human cords, with ropes of love. To them I was like one who eases the yoke from their jaws; I bent down to give them food” (vv. 3–4). In his love, God revealed his law to his people so that they could understand who he is and how to relate to him. The Israelites were not left to figure out on their own how to please God. He told them precisely what he expected of them.

The Scriptures are God’s gifts of love to us. In the Scriptures, we learn about the character of God, what he requires of us, and how we should live before him.

Fourth, God’s compassion stirred him to persevering love. “My people are bent on turning from me. Though they call to him on high, he will not exalt them at all. How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I surrender you, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? I have had a change of heart; my compassion is stirred! I will not vent the full fury of my anger; I will not turn back to destroy Ephraim. For I am God and not man, the Holy One among you; I will not come in rage” (vv. 7–9). Though he would punish them to correct them, God would not entirely give up on his people. He longed for renewed fellowship. He longed to again lavish his covenant love on his people.

We can be thankful that God’s love perseveres in our lives. Though he will punish our sin, he will not forsake his people entirely. He saved us for a purpose—to make us like Christ—and we can be sure that he will accomplish that purpose.

Fifth, God’s compassion stirs stirred to forgiving love. “They will follow the LORD; he will roar like a lion. When he roars, his children will come trembling from the west. They will be roused like birds from Egypt and like doves from the land of Assyria. Then I will settle them in their homes. This is the LORD’s declaration” (vv. 10–11). While these verses do not directly address the reality of forgiveness, they strongly suggest it. Since he would remove Israel from its land because of its sin, the restoration to the land suggests repentance and forgiveness. His forgiveness would result in his people finally following him.

God’s compassion stirs him to forgive our sins. He is committed to his people and will do what it takes to bring them to repentance. When we repent, he lavishes forgiveness on us.

As you meditate on Hosea 11 this morning, thank God for his compassion, which stirs him to practical acts of love toward us. Ask for grace to love him as you ought, since he so loves you.