Hosea 11:1-11 His Nature, Our Need
On April 9th, 2010 Torry Ann Hansen did something that shocked many of us and created an international incident. On that date she put Artytom Savelyev, a 7 year-old boy she had adopted, on a flight to Russia by himself with the following note: “I no longer want to parent this child. He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues/behavior.”
Why would someone do this? I know no one can look inside another person’s heart to judge their motives except God, but this to me is shocking. I am sure in her mind she felt justified in doing what she did. Still, she he had made a choice to become a mother, a parent to this child, but for whatever reason, she then made the decision to not fulfill the commitment she had made. She chose to abandon him.
In today’s passage, God is speaking about his relationship with the people He has chosen, the nation that had begun with Abraham. In this passage, God is speaking about his love for His people and how in spite of his love, they had pulled away from Him. God had every reason to change His mind, to not fulfill the commitment God had made, but this is not the way God works. God does not abandon his adopted children.
This passage provides insight into the history out of which our faith comes. This passage has two very valuable lessons to teach us. The first lesson has to do with the nature of God. It teaches us God is not capricious in His choices nor can His commitment be frustrated by our flaws and failures.
Secondly, it is a lesson about the challenge we as human beings face from our own rebellious nature and how that nature brings us sorrow and suffering in spite of God’s deep love and desire to hold us near to His heart. Even the perfect parent, God, has children who can go down the wrong path. Even God, in his perfect love, has adopted children, who have severe issues and bad behavior.
There is a proverb which states, “No one can hurt you more than someone you love.” Any parent who has lived through the ordeal of a rebellious child can attest to the truth of this statement. Sometimes, no matter how much love is given, no matter how supportive, nurturing, guiding, discipline and care is provided, a child still can make one destructive choice after another and not seem to care how much they hurt their parents.
God had called his people out of slavery. He had delivered them from enemies who would have shown them no mercy. He had protected them. He had provided for them. He placed them near his heart. What did he get in return? They had moved away from him. They had turned to false Gods, sacrificed to idols and worshipped the powers and principalities which did not care about them and only viewed them with contempt and as instruments to try and hurt God.
What is our reaction when we are ignored, insulted, betrayed, or belittled? How do we respond to ingratitude, insincerity, or infidelity? If you have ever been hurt by an unfaithful friend, unfaithful spouse, or any unfaithful, uncaring relationship you know how it hurts. Even if it has not happened to you I am sure most of your have known someone who has had to deal with this. It is not right. It takes an extra-ordinary person just to get past the desire to strike out, to get back, and even more incredibly strong person to completely forgive and forget. God takes it further than that. God still loves his people. He still has the desire to bless. This is the nature of our Lord. This is what it means to enter His covenant. This is his promise to those whom He calls.
The writer of Hebrews tells us: Hebrews 6:13-18 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged (NIV). God does not lie and His nature does not change. He has made a commitment and he sticks to it.
This nature, God’s nature, His deep love for humanity is magnified even more in while he calls humanity to be his adopted sons, he was willing to send his own Son to be an atonement for our failures, for our sins. Again, I quote the Scripture: Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (NIV). However, God will not force his will, his nature on us. In this the image of God we possess is demonstrated. We have a choice.
Learning the limitation of our ability to make good choices is comes with patience, endurance, and commitment. The people to whom Hosea speaks had the witness of God preserving the covenant. They had the experiential evidence of verse 4. Still, they chose to rebel, they chose to do it their own way. They would not change direction (what the word repent means) but continued to pull away from God. Folks, if you pull away from God he will let you experience the consequences of your own choices. The consequence might not be immediate, but they will come. With each act of rebellion, with each choice made for the world, our lives become emptier and darker. We might try to avoid admitting this through denial, drugs, depravity, or all kinds of other self-deceptions but eventually the consequences will come.
Today, we have an even greater accountability. The people of Hosea’s day had to look forward for the ultimate revelation of God’s love in the promise of the Messiah. We have the advantage of knowing God incarnate has come. We have the advantage of being indwelt by the Holy Spirit, if we move away from God; we can expect an even greater judgment.
In verses 5 and 6 God reminds us the trouble we get ourselves into. He reminds us there are those out there who are bad and will take advantage, will enslave and abuse. Is this what they want?
The second thing this passage teaches us is that we bring much of our sorrow upon ourselves. We also have a sin nature, even if we have Jesus as our Savior. If we are not growing in our reliance on His instruction we will be growing in our own rebellion. Look at verse 7. God will not exalt us in our rebelliousness; God only exalts us in Jesus, in our faithfulness to Him. When we exalt Jesus in our lives (not just with our mouths) we will be exalted. This world exalts itself; this is what the people of Hosea’s day did. We need to learn and not repeat this mistake. Matthew 23:12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (NIV).
It amazes me how people can get themselves into trouble, how people can depend upon a casual, cultural idea of faith, and then expect God to get them out of it. It amazes me how people come to church because they want God to do something for them even though the rest of the time they live for themselves. I have folks walk in all the time expecting the church to give them money or help them in some manner not because they are part of the family of faith but because they believe this is what we are supposed to do. It is not. Folks the church is supposed to be a family of faith that takes care of one another. If you look at Scripture it clearly states that they will know we are Christian by our love for one another. The promise of God is to take care of his own when his own are faithful. However, we are not to be supportive of activities of those who have turned away from God. And what is really sad, is that people can become so self-centered, so self-righteous, so filled with pseudo-piety that they don’t even understand the warnings that God gives through his word. Israel didn’t and they paid a dear price. It was not God’s fault, but their own rebelliousness. Today, in a country in which religious freedom and opportunity allowed God’s people to escape the tyranny of the religious corruption of the Western culture, we have not learned.
People really can become like the young boy who was getting bad grades in school. One day he surprised the teacher with an announcement. He tapped her on the shoulder and said, “I don’t want to scare you, but my daddy says if I don’t start getting better grades (pause) somebody is going to get a spanking!”
God has make it clear: Hebrews 12:5-11 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (NIV)”
Once again, those who have been called of God have taken God’s love, his tender care, his spiritual guidance, his calling and commission for granted, have gotten themselves into trouble. We don’t need more churches. We don’t need more programs, or religious products. We need to turn to Jesus. We need to follow the path he has given. We need to learn from the errors we are warned about in the Scripture. We need repentance; we need to again become committed to being disciples. We need to awaken to the end we are heading toward. Time is moving toward a moment. Verses 8-11 tell us what God is going to do. He will rise up a remnant. He will bring the faithful to himself. Those who fear the Lord will come trembling to his promise. Those who fear the Lord will be settled in His peace. God’s nature is to love us, adopt us, and build us up. He will never leave us or forsake us, but he will not force us. Our nature is one of need for His love. When we are not seeking Him we will be moving toward suffering and sorrow. It is a task we need to be reminded of daily. What choice will you make today?