Hosea 11 – Love Like a Blowtorch

Hosea 11 Bible with Chocolove Dark Chocolate Coffee Crunch

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Today’s PassageHosea 11

Like me, you may not know much about agriculture firsthand. But there’s one area where I lack experiential knowledge that you may well have it in spades, and that’s being a parent and loving your child. Man! When I put it like that, it sounds super-sad.

But no matter how much I talk about spiritual reproduction, referring to my creative works as my children, it’s not the same as having a tiny human run around with a share of your DNA inside it. And if you know what that’s like, you’ve got a better idea than I of what it’s like when God says, “When Israel was a youth I loved him” (1). This chapter’s all about a father’s love for his wayward son. Jesus painted a much more broadly known picture in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), but here’s another picture of a kid who leaves his dad and a dad who still loves his kid.

This story, however, comes from the perspective of the dad. Whatever he does for his son goes unnoticed: “Yet it is I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in My arms; but they did not know that I healed them” (3). Again, that’s something I only know by proxy. I’ve watched friends and relatives literally walk their children through the process of learning to walk, making progress day by day, even seeing my parents teach my younger brother to walk. But I’ve never taken a child of my own from lying on his back to moving around upright. I see God’s love in a mirror dimly, and I can only speculate what it’s like to have all your services disregarded as a parent.

On top of that, Israel turns its back on its divine dad. Hosea tells us, “The more [the prophets] called them, the more they went from them; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to idols” (2). Israel likes his stepdad better than his real dad, because his stepdad is fun and lets him do anything he wants because his stepdad is an idol made out of gold that can’t actually do anything. “My people are bent on turning from Me” (7), God laments. They’ve fixed their course in the wrong direction and are determined to pursue it. If you’ve ever had a teenager, you can probably relate.

God’s got his punishment in store. He’s got his discipline. But at the end of the day, he’s saying, “How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel?” (8). His people can turn their backs on him all they want, but he refuses to return the favor. “All My compassions are kindled.” he declares; “I will not execute My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again” (8-9). His compassions are kindled. You usually think of anger as being kindled, burning hot like a furnace or fire, but God’s kindness is kindled. He’s got love like a blowtorch.

Make no mistake, the chapter does not end on a hopeful note. God’s chosen people are still rebels and liars. But though the chapter’s over, the book is not, and we have yet to see where Burning Dad and his children will end up when Hosea pens the last verse.

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