More often than not, God speaks to me through the scripture reading which another quotes from the Bible. Last Saturday, many of us gathered at St. Mary’s Parish for Adoration and to worship and to praise God. Roy, the master of ceremonies, quoted from Hosea 10:11-12. That particular reading didn’t speak to me then, but I thought it would be good to reflect on it the following day.
Once again, that particular scripture didn’t speak to me, but I continued reading until something “spoke”. I began in Chapter 10 on verses 11 and 12, but by the time I reached Chapter 11, my pen was out and I had begun to underline one sentence after another. To my surprise, I kept on until Chapter 14!
Have you ever wondered how God feels? Read on.
When Israel was a child, then I loved him and called My son out of Egypt. The more [the prophets] called to them, the more they went from them; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to the graven images. Yet I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms or taking them up in My arms, but they did not know that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love, and I was to them as one who lifts up and eases the yoke over their cheeks, and I bent down to them and gently laid food before them.
They shall not [literally] return into [another bondage in] the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be their king because they refused to return to Me. And the sword shall rage against and fall upon their cities and shall consume the bars of their gates and shall make an end [of their defenses], because of their own counsels and devices.
My people are bent on backsliding from Me; though [the prophets] call them to Him Who is on high, none at all will exalt Him or lift himself up [to come to Him].
How can I give you up, O Ephraim! How can I surrender you and cast you off, O Israel! How can I make you as Admah or how can I treat you as Zeboiim [both destroyed with Sodom]!
My heart recoils within Me; My compassions are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not bring back Ephraim to nothing or again destroy him. For I am God and not man, the Holy One in the midst of you, and I will not come in wrath or enter into the city. Hosea 11:1-9 Amp
But I have been the Lord your God ever since you came out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me. I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of burning heat. When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me. Hosea 13:4-6 Amp
Notice anything? Although they are chapters apart, the two Scripture readings flow into each other. Notice anything else? God’s love for His people is immense and oh so extensive.
The individuals mentioned in the passage are the descendants of Abraham. Israel, originally named Jacob by his parents, was Abraham’s grandson. He was the second son born to Isaac. Isaac, the son miraculously born to Abraham and Sarah in their senior years; the very same son Abraham was willing to sacrifice when God put him to the test. Ephraim is Jacob’s grandson. He was the son of Joseph, the youngest of 12 brothers who was thrown into a dry well and then sold into slavery in Egypt.
Did you notice God’s relationship with them? He loved Israel in his youth and took him out of Egypt (slavery to sin); it was He who taught Israel’s grandson to walk (in faith)! From one generation to the next (5 generations), He was with them. He took them into His arms; He healed them; He led them and loved them; He lifted the yoke (bondages) from their mouths and He fed them. How much more intimate could He get? And yet, the more He called (through the prophets), the more they turned their backs on Him. They continued to turn to and worship other gods. Although they were taught to worship the “One on high”, no one exalted Him.
As you read, some may have become frustrated and exasperated by the lack of gratitude and callousness of God’s children. Unfortunately and sadly, not only does the story recount the lives of Abrahams’ descendants, but it tells our story as well. Did you turn your back on God during your adolescent and/or early adult years? Have your children and grandchildren done likewise? We quickly forget the blessings we have been given, often times assuming God’s obligation to send them our way, but instead, we focus on our trials and how God appears to have failed us.
Did He really fail us? How could He, if we’ve barely known Him all these years? We may know His name and know of Him through the teaching of others, and yet, can we say we know him… personally?
God clearly recognized something. He said, “When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.” Sound familiar? Notice how we turn and plead with God when we need something, but not long after, we forget what He had done and we go off our worldly way until the next time a desperate need arises?
God finally expresses His anger, but very quickly, He realizes… “My heart is turned over within Me, all My compassions are kindled. I will not execute My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again.” His gentleness… His mercy… His love rises far above His anger. He exclaims, “For I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath. They will walk after the Lord, He will roar like a lion; indeed He will roar and His sons will come trembling from the west. They will come trembling like birds from Egypt and like doves from the land of Assyria; and I will settle them in their houses, declares the Lord.” Hosea 11:8-11 Amp
Time after time, God’s mercy triumphs over His judgement and yet, sadly, He notices… “Ephraim surrounds Me with lies and the house of Israel with deceit; Judah is also unruly against God, even against the Holy One who is faithful.” Hosea 11:12 Amp
Our God is a God of second chances. Through generations, multitudes have turned their backs on Him, and yet He repeatedly gives us chance after chance. Have you wondered why?
“But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:8-9
Melissa – July 29, 2014