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Hosea 11:111comment (0)

January 2, 2013

By Robert Olsen

Related Scripture: Hosea 11:1-11

Explore the Bible 
Assistant Professor of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile

Remembering Compassion

Hosea 11:1–11

Compassion Though Unrecognized (1–4)
Hosea begins chapter 11 with a picture of God as a loving father. God demonstrated His love for Israel by rescuing them from their slavery in Egypt, “out of Egypt I called My son.” The refrain “I am the God … who brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” occurs many times throughout the Old Testament as a way to help Israel remember the faithfulness and love of God. God had taken them from Egypt and turned them into a great nation. This is an obvious testament to God’s love for His people. However, the Israelites continually turned from God and instead sacrificed to the Baals and other foreign gods. The more God tried to turn the Israelites from their evil ways, the more they seemed to run from Him.

Interestingly, Matthew recognizes that this text from Hosea also applied as a prophecy to the Messiah, whom God called out of Egypt after Herod died. Many prophecies in the Old Testament have a twofold meaning — one for the time period in which the prophecy was given and one for the future.

Looking at God and the Israelites can make us think that these Jews are a lot different from us, but in reality we all sin and disobey God, and yet God continually calls us back to Him and desires that we turn from our sinful actions and turn to Him. We can all look back at our lives and see times where God acted compassionately on our behalf, even though we did not realize it at the time. It is uplifting for our faith when we meditate on God’s love for us as demonstrated throughout our lives, because it shows us God’s love for us and how He knows what is best for us even when we did not realize it.

Compassion Amid Judgment (5–7)
Because Israel had refused to repent, God would send Assyria to rule over them, which comes to fruition in 722 BC. The purpose for Israel’s demise is to bring about repentance; the destruction of Israel will end all of Israel’s boasting and independence. Because God is acting as a father, we can see similarities in how parents often discipline their children to bring about repentance and a change in behavior and attitude. God desires what is best for His people, and when His people choose poorly and determine to live in sin and act sinfully, God brings disciplinary judgment in order to convince His children to change their behavior.

Compassion Over Anger(8–9)
The behavior of the Israelites demands that they be punished, but God does not want to carry out their complete destruction because they are His children and He loves them. How can a holy God relent? It is a testimony to God’s love that He does not give the Israelites over to the full extent of His anger. God could have completely wiped the Israelites off of the face of the earth just as He did the cities of Admah and Zeboiim (see Deut. 29:23), yet He did not because He loved them.

For us, it is no different. We deserve death because we choose to sin against a holy and righteous God. The Bible teaches that the punishment for sin is death (Rom. 3:23), yet God sent Christ to die on our behalf because God loves us.

Compassion With Purpose (10–11)
God declares that His love for them is so strong that even though the Israelites will be sent into exile, He will preserve for Himself a remnant that He will bring back to Israel. Not only will there be a geographical restoration, but a spiritual one as well.

We can be thankful that God loves us so much that He does not want us to settle for anything but the best, which is of course, following Him. We serve a God who will go to great lengths to get our attention and show us the error of our ways so that we can have a relationship with Him. When we choose to obey God, we find true joy and happiness.

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