Hosea 11 Overcall

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Questions: When did God love us? What have we sacrificed to His rivals? To whose call do we listen? What has He sacrificed for us? Do we seek His character, power, or glory? How fierce is His anger? Will He destroy us completely? Why not?

“Read More” to pursue answers from the Prophet Hosea.

Lord, make me a Fountain of your Love.
Draw me into your Presence, and fill me with your Holy Spirit
That I might know you as my Father, and manifest the image of Christ
In this world, and the world to come. Amen.

Hosea 11:1-12

When Israel [was] a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

Today’s chapter starts out on a more positive note — though ominously in the past tense.

[As] they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.

There’s an intriguing tension between the two “calls.” Also, I find it fascinating that God talks about He did for the Israelites, in contrast to what the Israelites did for Baal:

I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.

It is funny (I should say tragic) how much we are willing to sacrifice for the petty gods we’ve setup for ourselves– career, pleasure, money — yet how little we honor the God who’s given us so much.

With such ingratitude, our punishment seems richly deserved:

He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return. And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour [them], because of their own counsels.

Interesting rationales. Their primary sins were:

* refusing to return (to God)
* (keeping) their own counsels (e.g., trusting themselves?)

Ouch. That hits a bit close to home. I’ve been wrestling this week with the whole issue of self-will, which resonates uncomfortably with God’s complaint against the Israelites.

And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt [him].

This is an awkward verse to translate. The sense I get is that the people are turning away from God in their hearts, though they continue to cry out to Him for help.

In fact, this aligns nicely with what our pastor has been teaching recently about how The Glory of God consists of both His goodness (character) and His greatness (power). The people still want God’s saving power, but they no longer desire to be taught His goodness, which is why He can’t/won’t be glorified (exalted).

No wonder God is ticked. But that doesn’t stop Him from caring:

How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? [how] shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah* [how] shall I set thee as Zeboim* mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.

I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I [am] God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.

And finally, after all these depressing chapters, a note of hope!

They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall
tremble from the west. They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, saith the LORD.

Yeah! Despite the harrowing, painful place they are currently in, God does have a glorious future for the people of Israel.

Alas, that doesn’t change their messed-up present:

Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints.

Though, at least here it is leavened with praise for Judah, who remains faithful to God. For the moment…

Prayer

God, I confess that I have too often listened to the call of the world towards self-indulgence and self-reliance. I have cried out to you for your Power, but refused the hard discipline necessary to receive your Goodness. Have mercy on me, O my Father, in accordance with your great love. Forgive my sins, my hard heart, and my stiff neck. May I walk with you, and rest wherever you place me. May I yet rule with you, and be faithful to your saints. I ask this in Jesus name, and by His blood, Amen.

About the Title:

Today’s title is a term from Bridge.

Author’s Note:

I had to redo part of this chapter’s devotional due to a crash in iBlog yesterday. Though probably due to some other beta software I was using, it reminded me just how old, crufty, and unsuppported iBlog has become. Thus, I at long last have begun to explore moving to a new blogging platform. Which means I will need to change URLs (and feeds), though I should at least be able to export all my content. I hope to move after I complete Hosea (3 more chapters). Stay tuned.

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