God and His People
By Rosco Brong
Hosea 11:1-9; 14:1-4
God's love for His chosen people, under either the old or the new testament, does not mean that they have a license to sin. On the contrary, "whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth" (Hebrews 12:6), and "judgment must begin at the louse of God" (I Peter 4:17).
Hosea and other faithful prophets of God warned His old testament people of the certainty of divine judgment for sin from the very same God whose love is manifested in everlasting1 salvation. A history of national deliverance in the past and promise of future restoration of the nation were in perfect harmony with the certainty of terrible though temporal judgment for sin. Even so, in individual Christian life, an experience of regeneration and promise of glorification are in perfect harmony with the certainty of present chastisement for sin. (I Corinthians 11:30-32.)
Outlining the portions of Hosea's prophecy included in this week's lesson, we have:1. Love Recorded, Hosea 11:1-4 a. Record of paternity, 1 b. Record of perversity, 2, 3 c. Record of pity, 4 2. Love Rejected, Hosea 11:5-7 a. Rejecters' place, 5 b. Rejecters' plans, 6 c. Rejecters' prejudice, 7 3.Love Regretting, Hoses 11:8, 9 a. Regret divine, 8 b. Regret determined, 9 4. Love Returning, Hosea 14:1-3 a. Return from sin, 1 b. Return with supplication, 2 c. Return with sincerity, 3 5. Love Restoring, Hosea 14:4 Notes on the Printed Text:
Love Recorded, Hosea 11:1-4.
Expressions of God's love for His people are a matter of record. As His children, we are exhorted that we should "not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." (I John 3:18.) Men's works sometimes contradict their words, but God's works are always in agreement with His word. On the record, His performance perfectly parallels His promises.
Record of Paternity, 1.
Human parents may disown their children, but God can never disclaim. His own. As He loved them from the beginning, He will love them to the end. There was no virtue or merit in Israel to attract the love of God (Deuteronomy 7:6-8; 9: 4-6); nor was there in us (Romans 5:8; Ephesians 1:5). The nation Israel is here personified to serve as a type of Christ (Matthew 2:15).
Record of Perversity, 2, 3.
Explaining the third person pronouns, we may read verse 2 as follows:
"As they (the faithful prophets of God) called them (the people of Israel), so they (the people) went from them (the prophets): they (the people) sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images."
That is, the more the prophets called the people to worship the true God, the more the people in their perversity turned to the worship of false gods. "Ephraim" was the largest tribe in Israel, and so in poetic or prophetic language sometimes stands for the nation. So perverse were the people that they failed to recognize their instruction, guidance, and healing as coming from God.
Record of Pity, 4.
"Man that is in honor, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish."(Psalm 49:20.) Despite their beastly contrariness, however, God drew the people of Israel "with cords of a man, with bands of love." And even considering them as beasts of burden, He gently lifted the yoke from their jaws and supplied them with food, showing pity and kindness which they did not deserve.
Love Rejected, Hosea 11:5-7.
Divine love appeared to be wasted on these rebels. Through long years and generations they rejected the love of their Creator and Redeemer to go after strange gods that could do nothing for them. But if we are tempted to speak harshly of ancient Israel, what shall we say of modern Christians, who enjoy a fuller and richer revelation of God's love in Jesus Christ, and who repay Him with indifference, neglect, and disobedience?
Rejecters' Place, 5.
If the rejecters of God's word would not return to Him, neither would He allow them to return to Egypt People may reject God's word, but they cannot escape His power. God always has a place for those who oppose Him as well as a place for those who love Him. Unbelievers may think they are choosing their own way and their own place, and in a sense they are, but in the end they will find themselves in the place appointed for them by the God Whom they disbelieved.
Rejecters' Plans, 6.
"Because of their own counsels," but in a way quite different from what they planned, sinners will receive the consequences of their own wickedness. They planned to defy God and escape judgment, but all their evil planning will result only in their own destruction.
Rejecters' Prejudice, 7.
Worldly people like to accuse God's faithful people of prejudice, but the term better applies to those who "are bent to backsliding." Lost sinners even more than backslidden Christians are prejudiced against God and His word. Though prophets call them "to the most High," such people will not exalt Him. In their blind prejudice, sinners prefer to exalt themselves, or even to exalt false gods, rather than obey Him Whose "kingdom ruleth over all." (Psalm 103:19.)
Love Regretting, Hosea 11:8, 9.
Under the influence of heathen philosophy, some Christian theologians have taught that God is unfeeling, "impassive," or lacking what we commonly call emotions. But such a God is not the God of the Bible. The Biblical God loves and hates, sorrows and rejoices. Call it the language of appearance if you will, but the scriptural appearance is more attractive than the theological theory, and is it not possible that God would rather have us think of Him as He has revealed Himself in His word than as men have imagined Him?
Regret Divine, 8. By means of rhetorical questions, God suggests that the thought of giving Ephraim or Israel over to such destruction as He had sent upon Admah and Zeboim (Deuteroomy 29:23) was almost unbearable to Him. The word "repentings" here is from a word meaning compassion or regret. How could we fail to discern in this language divine regret in the necessity of judgment?
Regret Determined, 9.
Whatever may be the mingled feelings of pity and anger in the divine nature, they are perfectly balanced and resolved; God is God, and not man; His anger is restrained by mercy, but His regret will not binder judgment.
Love Returning, Hosea 14:1-3.
"We love him, because he first loved us," (I John 4:19.) His infinite and eternal love finally generates in the hearts of His people an answering love that constrains us to return to Him, (II Corinthians 5:14.) Still better, if we learn to love Him as we ought, we shall not depart from Him. Here the prophet calls upon a nation that has departed to return.
Return from Sin, 1.
God and sin cannot abide together. To turn from God is to go into sin, and to return to God we must turn away from sin. "Thou hast fallen by thine iniquity." We owe nothing to sin but our own ruin; the way out of sin. and destruction is the way back to God.
Return with Supplication, 2.
"Take with you words." We had better be sure that we mean what we say, because we cannot deceive God. At best, it is a waste of time and effort to pray insincerely: why should God give us what He knows we do not really desire? However, it is dangerous to pray so: God may give us what we asked for and make us wish' we had not asked. Let us be careful about selfish or insincere praying.
Nevertheless we are commanded to pray. If we wish to be freed from iniquity, let us say so. If we wish God to receive us graciously, let us tell Him so. And if we are sure we shall remember to offer to Him the sacrifice of thanksgiving, why not promise Him "the calves of our lips"?
Return with Sincerity, 3.
Our return to God is not sincere if we still look to Ashur or other worldly helpers to save us; or if we still would rest upon horses or other worldly resources; or would still trust to the work of our own hands. It is in God, and only in God, that the "fatherless," the forsaken, destitute, and helpless soul, finds mercy. With this conviction, we can turn, to God in all the sincerity of our hearts.
Love Restoring, Hosea 14:4.
God Who teaches His people to pray promises to hear their prayers. He "Will heal their backsliding." He has always loved them, but when they return to Him and His anger is turned away from them, He "will love them freely."
"The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." - Jeremiah 31:3.
God's people personified under the name of Israel are objects of His everlasting love, a love that knew them as His own before they were ever created, a love that will never fail, in time or eternity. The same thing; is true of Gentile believers under the new testament It is because of this everlasting love that He draws them to Himself, both in their original experience of salvation and to returning from all their backslidtags. (John 6:44, 65.) ===============
[From Ashland Avenue Baptist paper, Friday, May 14, 1971, pp. 2-3. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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