6 February 2013

Hosea 11:1-11

"When I was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son." (v. 1)


Today brings a new chapter and a new dawn. The start of this chapter brings us back to the very beginning, what motivates God and that is not anger, revenge or causing misery but love. This short and concise chapter seeks to bring some calibration to the proceedings. Hosea reminds his audience why all this judgement has occurred in the first place, liking Israel to a child and creating a picture of a family to bring things into perspective. The chapter is like a historical poem reminding the reader what brought events to this bleak and horrid point. It gives context but also confidence, and assures the people that actually God does care.

The words and phrases begin to change, with verbs like "loved", "called", "taught", and "healed" (vv. 1, 3); also, liking the nation to a child gives the impression of new life and new hope. God is longing for reconciliation: "How can I give you up, Ephraim?" and "How can I hand you over, Israel?"(v. 8). Then comes the crunch moment when God declares "my heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender" (v. 8) when it is clear God is going to offer forgiveness and that fresh start which is so badly needed in the present situation.

The rest of the passage is then concerned with what God is going to do stemming from this change of heart. The people will come back and follow God and God "will return them to their homes" (v. 11). What an amazing turnaround which has taken place, from the despair and desolation of the last chapter, to this new promise, this new horizon unfolding in this chapter. There is a chance now for the people; a new chapter in their nationhood.

To Ponder

  • Does despair always lead to hope?
  • When is the last time you had a change of heart brought about through a discovery of compassion?
  • What would a new chapter in your life look like? 

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.