Rejected Love

Key Verse: “I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.”
—Hosea 11:4, New International Version

Selected Scripture:
Hosea 11:1-9

THIS IS A CONTINUATION of last week’s lesson on the unfaithfulness of Israel. The illustration used is that of a concerned parent for his child. “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” (Hos. 11:1) God tells of his love for the young nation of Israel and how he led them out of Egyptian bondage, which is the basic lesson of Hosea’s prophecy. Matthew cites this prophecy in his gospel, when telling of Herod’s murderous intent to destroy the Christ child, Jesus, causing Joseph to take him to Egypt for safety. Then God called them out of Egypt after Herod died.—Matt. 2:15

In Hosea’s prophecy, he tells how quickly Israel left the worship of Jehovah and sacrificed to Baal, saying, “The more I called Israel, the further they went from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images.”—Hos. 11:2, NIV

The theme text tells of the tender love employed by God to nurture and care for his nation, but to no avail. Hosea continues, “Will they not return to Egypt and will not Assyria rule over them because they refuse to repent? Swords will flash in their cities, will destroy the bars of their gates and put an end to their plans. My people are determined to turn from me. Even if they call to the Most High, he will by no means exalt them.” (vss. 5-7, NIV ) Because of their disobedience, slavery (as in Egypt) and captivity by the Assyrians of the ten-tribe kingdom awaited them.

As children disobedient to parents, they had to learn obedience. Hosea’s words are directed especially toward the ten-tribe kingdom and their sins, using the figure of Ephraim to represent them. This prophecy tells of the failure of this young nation to accept God’s assistance and the need for their correction. He would not, however, destroy them as he did Admah and Zeboiim, both cities of the plains destroyed with Sodom and Gommorah. God says, “My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim. For I am God, and not man.” (vss. 8,9, NIV ) Although Ephraim and Israel had to be punished, they would not be destroyed as by the hand of an avenging man.

It would appear, according to Hosea 11:12, that Judah is not being condemned, because the King James Version reads, “Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints.” This is a faulty translation. Other translators agree that the intention is to condemn Judah as in the NIV. It says, “Judah is unruly against God, even against the faithful Holy One.” This is confirmed when, in the King James Version, Hosea 12:2 says, “The Lord hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.” Thus, although the specific punishment of Israel is of bondage by the Assyrians, yet Judah also would suffer the same by being taken captive to Babylon.

The twelfth and thirteenth chapters of Hosea continue describing the failure of Ephraim and Israel to learn obedience. In the fourteenth chapter, God tells of their return and prayers for forgiveness of sins. They will finally recognize that “the ways of the Lord are right.”—Hos. 14:9

Dawn Bible Students Association
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