7 February 2013

Hosea 11:12 – 12:14

"But as for you, return to your God, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God." (v. 6)


Today's passage begins with a reminder that God is faithful and holy. Why is this important? It is because it reiterates why God wants right behaviour and righteousness to flow out of people's lives in the first place. We are instructed elsewhere in Scripture: "You shall be holy for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16) and that is so true. God wants us to live pure, holy and righteous lives, and to mirror God.

Hosea now breaks down what has been going on in the tribes and in the regions that God does not like. This begins with Ephraim feeding on the wind: this means taking a cavalier attitude to life and the curious phrase "pursues the east wind all day long" is about taking an interest in what is foolish and what is vanity. When people are said to be fickle or easily led we tend to say they are like the wind. I presume this phrase originally comes from the prophet Isaiah who likens people to grass and says they blow this way and that like the wind (Isaiah 40:6-8). If this attitude and behaviour wasn't bad enough, gossip and wickedness of the tongue are also mentioned, finishing off with violence. So you can see the charge against Ephraim is serious.

As for Jacob, the charge is no better! It starts with the claim he was causing problems before he was even born (verse 3). That is a cruel indictment if ever there was one! The prophet then describes how he wrestled with an angel and begged for favour (verse 4), giving the impression of desperation (see Genesis 32:24-32). But he came to his sense by finding and talking to God at Bethel (Genesis 35). Then comes the plea from the prophet to the people, "return to your God" and "wait continually for your God" (v. 6). Notice the pronoun "your" before God, indicating that God is on their side, therefore imploring the people to return to their senses and return to God.

To Ponder

  • Do you feel at times you are carried along with the prevailing mood of the crowd? What were the occasions?
  • Do you sometimes feel that God is not on your side? What was it like?
  • In what ways do you talk to God?

Bible notes author

The Revd Andrew Pottage

Andrew Pottage is a Methodist presbyter currently working in the North East Somerset and Bath Circuit. He is interested in mission, leadership and the future development of the ministry generally.