Hosea 11:1-11

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, 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.

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. 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. 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. Hosea 11:1-11

The more time that I spend listening to the Bible, the more I am convinced that we have done great damage to this incredible witness to God’s love by turning it into something it never was.  It is not a book, it is a library shelf. It was written over the course of a long period of time. People didn’t write the Bible and then experience God–they experienced God and then shared their experience in stories and words.

The more we understand the history and the context out of which the stories emerged, the more we can appreciate the stories.  Human nature has not changed much through the years. We see today’s world echoed in the stories of the past. The Holy Spirit guides this interaction of our lives and God’s word. To listen well to the stories, and to find ourselves in them, is how we discovered God working in our lives.

Hosea, like all of the prophets, was written during a period of great turbulence. The northern kingdom was in trouble. The Assyrians were powerful and would soon overrun the north. Trying to make sense of this, Hosea uses the covenant of marriage as a metaphor for our relationship with God. God is faithful, God’s people are fickle. God is trustworthy, God’s people are easily seduced by the gods who are not gods. The same God who brooded over the waters of creation is the God who tenderly cared for the people of Israel but none of that mattered.  They traded the God they could not see for the graven images, the golden calves, the sacred poles, the high places, that they could. And their lives fell apart.

The writer of Matthew’s gospel remembered these words from Hosea. He saw the connection. He saw how quickly people were reduced to bondage by chasing false gods. Trading in their freedom for slavery.  He saw Jesus as the embodiment of God’s will and God’s law. He saw God’s people as the bride of Christ. He saw Jesus, entering our lives, not to change God’s mind toward us, but to change our minds toward God. To see God as the source of our lives, and to see love as the path of our lives. As God intended all along.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, you love us more deeply then we can know or imagine. Catch us up in our faithlessness and disobedience that we might know the freedom of being who you have created us to be, and loving our neighbor as you have created us to love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.



One Response to “Hosea 11:1-11”

  1. kirk Says:

    A Men

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