8 July 2010Hosea 11:1-9
"How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender." (v.8)
One of the things that happened after January's earthquake in
Haiti was that many people's compassion reached out to the most
vulnerable members of society - children. There was a rush of
people wanting to adopt those whose parents had died and were in
great need. But some people acted in a way that was offensive to
Haitians and suffered the consequences. They tried to take children
out of the country illegally and were detained.
While children continue to be amongst the most vulnerable in the wake of the earthquake, there are signs that people in Haiti and external aid and relief agencies are working hard together to rebuild the lives of these most vulnerable people.
The image of a faithful husband who is constant in love with his unfaithful wife was very important to the prophet Hosea. He was a man who had been through that very situation. Yet here, the image changes dramatically. It is now is of a father who adopts a child and assumes duties that, most often are done by the mother.
Time and time again throughout the Old Testament, God has revealed, through the prophets, a very clear response to the people's unfaithfulness. Yet here, things seem to be different. God takes the initiative and adopts, nurtures, feeds and protects God's adopted child (the nation of Israel). The child turns out to be wayward and troublesome and, instead of showing anger, God says, "How can I give you up? ... How can I hand you over? ... My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender."
There is no limit to the tenderness and loving-kindness with which God will respond to the people's need. "Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?" (from Charles Wesley's 18th century hymn 'And Can it Be').
Do you know anyone who has adopted a child? Imagine some of the thoughts and feelings that desperately wanting to adopt a child create.
What do you think are the most important questions that an adopted person thinks about?
Read John Wesley's sermon The Spirit of Bondage and Adoption. What do you think are the differences between fear and adoption in this context?