God’s Love for His People

MEMORY VERSE: “I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” —Jeremiah 31:3

HOSEA 11:1-9

THE memory verse is really the keynote of this lesson, and it expresses a fundamental fact concerning the character of Jehovah, who is our Heavenly Father. The great fact concerning Jehovah’s love has been given too little attention by his professed people, particularly during the present Gospel Age.

The love of God was prominent in the teachings of Jesus and his apostles, but soon after the apostles fell asleep in death, fear of God, in the sense of dread, slowly took the place of love in the theology of the creeds. People were taught to dread God by the false theology that all those not pleasing to him would be punished eternally in a burning hell of fire.

This was contrary to the true teachings of the Word of God. In our memory verse we find Jehovah saying that he had drawn his people with everlasting kindness. Those who are drawn to him through fear of eternal torture or other dire punishment do not have a true concept of what God should mean to them, or what is truly implied by serving him in spirit and in truth.

Through the Prophet Isaiah the Lord speaks of a class who draw near to him with their lips, but whose hearts are far from him, and their fear toward him is taught by the precepts of men. (Isa. 29:13) We are not able to judge the hearts of people, but we can know from this and other plain statements of the Bible that any effort to draw people to God through fear is not by his authority, but rather according to the precepts of men.

It was the love of God that delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt. But while the Hebrew people appreciated their being set free, they soon drifted away from their love of God and went over to the worship of Baal. But God was patient with them, and over a period embracing many generations continued to appeal to them for their love. But they did not respond. In verse 5 he assures them that while they would not be taken back into captivity in Egypt, the Assyrians would rule over them, and it was under this Assyrian rulership that this professed people of the Lord lost their identity as his people.

Leading up to this captivity, the prophecy shows that “the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels. And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.”—vss. 6,7

Despite the almost continuous backslidings of his people the Lord continued to love them, and promised that he would not destroy them everlastingly, although he did permit them severe experiences in Assyria, and most of them died there. God’s love reaches beyond to the time of the resurrection, and then, once more, he will give them an opportunity to return to him and be loyal to his law.

How tender is the Lord’s expression toward his backsliding people, as set forth in verses 8 and 9! We quote from the Revised Standard Version: “How can I give you up, O Ephraim! How can I hand you over, O Israel! How can I make you like Admah! How can I treat you like Zeboim! 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 not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come to destroy.”

The Apostle Paul understood the true attitude of God toward his people who had rejected Jesus. This was the final great sin of God’s typical people, and Paul knew that while they would be scattered among the nations, and otherwise punished, they would not be permanently banished from the love and mercy of God. We quote:

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”—Rom. 11:25,26,33


How does God draw people to himself?

Is it right to frighten people into serving God?

Dawn Bible Students Association
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