God Yearns for His People

KEY VERSE: “My people are bent to backsliding from me, though they called them to the Most High, none at all would exalt him.” —Hosea 11:7


IN THIS part of Hosea’s prophecy, the Lord is reminding Israel of his tender love for the nation from the time that he delivered them from Egyptian bondage. When Moses was sent to Pharaoh to demand the release of the Hebrew children, he was instructed by the Lord to say to him, “Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn.” (Exod. 4:22) Thus it was true that he called his son out of Egypt.

The Lord’s tender mercy toward Israel and loving watchcase over his backsliding people had been manifested in many ways, and particularly by the manner in which he had delivered them from Egyptian bondage. It was like removing a yoke from their jaws, the account states. It was a wonderful deliverance and an outstanding evidence of God’s love.

In this prophecy our attention is called to a remarkable manifestation of God’s mercy toward Israel, in that he indicates that the full fierceness of his anger would not be visited upon them. In Deuteronomy 29:22-28, we have an account of a warning which Moses gave to Israel concerning the punishment which would come upon the nation in the event of unfaithfulness in living up to the terms of the Law Covenant. This punishment included their being expelled from the Promised Land, and dispersed among all nations.

But the warning was even more drastic than this. Verse twenty-three states that the whole land would become as brimstone and salt, and burning, so that not even grass would grow therein. The comparison is made with what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim “which the Lord overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath.” In the next verse this attitude of the Lord toward Israel is described as “the heat of this great anger.”

The Lord asks, “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.” (Hos. 11:.8) Here the Lord is telling us that his love for Israel was so great that he could not find it in his heart to destroy them completely and to make the land such an utter desolation as had been indicated in Moses’ prophecy.

“Mine heart is turned within me,” the Lord tells us, “my repentings are kindled together.” When in chapter 13:14 of this same prophecy, the Lord tells us that he will plague death and destroy the grave, that is, sheol, the death condition, he adds, “Repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.” What a wonderful and loving God! His heart goes out to his people and he repents of his announced purpose to destroy them altogether; but he assures us that he will not repent of his plan to give life to Israel and to the whole world.

Concerning Israel the Lord says, “I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger,” as illustrated by the utter and lasting destruction of those ancient wicked cities, “for I am God and not man.” Here is a quality of the divine character which we will do well to keep in mind. It is not that he is a changeable God, and for that reason cannot be depended upon. Nevertheless in his omnipotence he is capable of changing his mind. Manmade laws may not permit of this, as for example, the laws of the Medes and the Persians. But God is superior to all his laws, and can change when all the attributes of his glorious character—wisdom, justice, love, and power—are fully satisfied.

In these verses of Hosea’s prophecy we have a beautiful summary of God’s forgiving grace toward Israel, and of the fact that he intended to “heal their backslidings.” “I will be as the dew unto Israel,” the Lord declares. What a beautiful illustration of the refreshing experiences which are yet to be theirs when they have turned to the Lord and begin to receive the blessings of Messiah’s kingdom.

With the lessons of the past well learned, having discovered by bitter experience the terrible results of drifting away from God and away from his love and care, the Israelites and all mankind will be determined to serve the true and living God faithfully. Even as in the case of Ephraim, they will say, “What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree” as a result of his love and the blessings which have come to me through the abundance of God’s mercies.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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