Tuesday, 22 December 2020
“How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel?... My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.” Hosea 11:8 [NIV]
Prophet Hosea presents Chapter 11 as an oracle as if someone is flipping the pages of a photo album, a parent recalling the ways he cared for his child from early days. Being a parent is a privilege, an excitement, but a great challenge as well, as it involves nurturing, teaching, disciplining, caring and loving. As children grow older the concerns of parents are severe like: Did we teach them well enough? Are they safe? Will they make the right decisions? Can we protect them? So on and so forth... This is how like a father teaching his child to walk, the Lord patiently gave the people of Israel direction and cared for them tenderly when they experienced pain and agony.
God makes his appeal to them, reminding them of the time when Israel was a child. God loved him as a son and brought him up out of Egypt. But the more God called him, the more he rebelled. Although God had trained him from infancy, taught him how to walk and held him in his arms, Israel treated God with considerable scorn. But God says, “My heart cries within me!” We see the powerful expression of God’s feelings.
God can’t bear the thought of God’s children being destroyed like Admah and Zeboiim- cities that met their downfall along with Sodom and Gomorrah. Admah and Zebolim are sister cities of Sodom and Gomorah. God says, My heart won’t let me do it. My compassion won’t let me do it. These two words, “heart” and “compassion”, tell us something important and true about God the parent in Hosea’s oracle. “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy,” as it revealed in Psalm 145:8.
How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? - “God is infinitely just and infinitely merciful. At the last, God so determines, that both should have their share in the issue, and that Israel should be both justly punished and mercifully spared and relieved.”
My heart is turned - “As soon as I had spoken evil against thee, mercy prevailed, tenderness touched Me; the tenderness of the Father overcame the austerity of the Judge.”
My repenting kindled together - My strong compassions are kindled. i. e., with the heat and glow of love; as the disciples say, “Did not our hearts burn within us?” [Barnes Notes on the Bible]
God wants us to live and prosper, to be healthy and happy, to be just and kind. God wants us to show one another the kind of love He has shown us—the love demonstrated in tenderness, caring, nurturing— showing mercy instead of vengeance; rendering deliverance and care instead of leaving in the ditch. God wants us to grow into that which we were created to be—children made in God’s own image, the image of compassion and love. God as our parent longs to look upon our faces, and see His own image reflected therefrom acts of love and compassion.
Our Offering in this Season:
Thanks be to such a wonderful and considerate God who is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy who gave His everything. Amen